For those not aware, in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association), it's not as easy as it seems to set the record for fastest speed, or time to travel a 1/4 mile. By the way, the record is currently held at 4.428 seconds by Top Fuel driver, Tony Schumacher, whose feat was accomplished in 2006.
Now, while your first thoughts are to discuss the sheer physics in the accomplishment of traveling down the 1/4 mile drag strip in under 5 seconds, that is not what I'm referring to exactly. In fact, most nitro fuel teams at events today accomplish that task often enough.
The challenge however comes from a rule that says the record must be accomplished not just by running a record breaking time, but by also having within that same weekend, run another time that weekend within 1 percent of the record setting run. I will gladly ask the question as to why this record setting rule exists.
The only reason I can come up for in terms of having to provide a "back up" run is to protect from some sort of fluke. However, I simply don't see a reason as to why the NHRA and its participants are so scared of a fluke. Even when chances are that the fluke will be run by a big name competitor (i.e. John Force, Tony Schumacher) anyway.
And that's really the only reason.
Maybe the rule is simply there because it's been there for so long. I know of no other sport that has a rule such as this. Do Olympic athletes have to have a track run in the same weekend that is 1% of their record breaking run?
Now if the NHRA says that it wants it there because it's what makes their motorsport different, then fine. It is their sport, and they can make rules for no reason whatsoever if they wish. But, they need to give me a reason other than the "fluke."
What of the "fluke" run though? What makes it a fluke? Well, the NHRA has four qualifying rounds. Rounds 1&2 are usually done Friday night, when conditions are generally better than the rest of the event weekend. So, there's a great chance of record breaking runs in a Friday night. If the NHRA doesn't want those Friday night numbers to apply, then maybe they should not run Friday night qualifying. Or, maybe they should tell people that Friday night qualifying numbers don't count for records.
Ultimately though, the idea of doing away with this rule would be there really for the sake of the fans, whom don't have calculators with them at all times to calculate 1%. I would bet $10 that good percentage of NHRA fans don't even know about the 1% back up rule.
The NHRA has proven with that it is willing to change. There is no need to look further than the recent change in the points system. They are also continuously tweaking the bike class in order to keep them competitive. "Wow, it looks like your brand of bike is really starting to gain some serious speed. Here's some lead weight to keep you on the ground. What's that? It's not fair? It will slow you down? Not my problem."
It is obvious that they do this to keep the fans interested, so, one more way to keep the fans interested is to take out one more layer of unnecessary rule-bureaucracy, like the 1% back up rule.