It seems every year I get all revved up about the new drag racing season only to be disappointed. Last year I was ready for a string of nines right out of the box and had to wait till summer. This year Mother Nature isn't even letting us race on the West Coast. The February Battle was rained out-the first time in 10 years the event did not go off as scheduled.

The following weekend the same fate awaited the IDRC. The GR8ride.com West Coast Nationals made it half-way through its program before the clouds opened up. Since the race was at Pomona and the track has a hard time accommodating rain dates, the points for those who qualified were to be doubled at the next IDRC event. Two weeks after the IDRC event, the rescheduled Battle suffered a similar fate with Saturday's qualifiers huddling underneath umbrellas on Sunday. The elimination rounds of that race will be run on the Saturday of the next Palmdale Battle on May 6th and 7th. The runs in competition will be considered qualifying passes for Sunday. Regular qualifying sessions will be run for those not in competition on Saturday. The fans look to be the big winners, getting a double elimination weekend-weather permitting of course.

As this column goes together we are prepping for the IDRC Lone Star Nationals in Houston and I have never watched as much of "The Weather Channel" as I have in the last 12 hours. There doesn't seem to be a cloud in the sky over Texas... knock on wood.

After my "year of the nines" forecast in '99, a number of people have asked me to make some sort of prediction about the 2000 season. First, I'll go out on a limb and predict that the weather in California will improve. I think 2000 will be the year of suspension in front-drive drag racing. A quick class car generating 500-plus hp at the wheels is a common occurrence. However the e.t.s of these cars vary more than horsepower output dictates.

There are other variables, I know, things like tire compound, weight and driving ability. But I believe the driving ability and weight of Quick class cars are fairly comparable and I know of many racers using the same compound slick but running widely different e.t.s. There are a number of racers working on their own independent R&D efforts that are exploring virgin territory and challenging the laws of physics. Team Bergenholtz is the most notable of the group and based on their being the innovators of wheelie bars, a good deal of focus will be on them in 2000.

Our own staff is working on a "uniquely creative" suspension set-up as our Project Integra continues its transformation to full-race. Nuformz has a few crazy tricks in the suspension of its front-drive Focus. Then there is Moroso. Moroso is the first major parts manufacturer to make custom suspension parts for mass production. The company has built a very nice Civic Coupe using these suspension components we hope to see blasting the 1320 this summer.

How fast will they go? Eights may be a bit of a stretch, but I would like to see Stephan Papadakis put his tube-frame Honda in the 8s with the OE Honda tranny. The Nuformz Focus with its X-Trac gearbox should run 8s once the car is sorted out. Unibody cars in the 8s? I think 9.20s would be awesome. I see potential problems in the driveline. If the suspension is tweaked to hook-n-cook there will be a lot more stress put on the driveline; we could see a rash of parts failures in this department. Ask Sean Glazar and the crew at Extreme Motorsports what happens when traction is exponentially increased. Sean's Talon starting hurting transmission parts and Sean has spent his off-season looking for answers. If he has fabricated an output shaft out of a stronger material and it doesn't cause a "domino effect" failure of another component down the line, Sean could be the first Quick Class racer to turn a big number. The Extreme Talon is the quickest Quick Class racer at 9.57 seconds. Thinking about all this is what sets me up for the fall.

In previous columns I have talked about the emergence of the Outlaw class and I am not sure this will take place in 2000. If it does, it will be later in the year. We know of a number of cars going together but it is unlikely they will be ready when the green light flashes on the 2000 season. If the November '99 IDRC event was a preview, the Outlaw class will rock the import world; there were a number of great cars, well-known racers and a high degree of drama with Stephan Papadakis taking the win in the first-ever Outlaw race.

I am looking forward to some sizzling e.t.s and can promise Turbo will be going coast to coast to cover the action. See you in the staging lanes.