Drag racing has long been a fragmented sport. Take, for example, Drag Radial, Foot Brake, Pro Stock, Outlaw 10.5, Super Pro, Nostalgia Super Stock, and Pro Extreme. They all have their diehard fans and they all run similar formats, but try explaining the differences to the everyday fan. Throw in that they all run at different places under different rules. Pretty confusing for the first timer, don't you think?
That may be the biggest reason why PINKS has become such a hit for the casual motorsports fan. In a world where reality TV has become standard fare in nearly every home, it's grassroots drag racing that's simple to watch and understand. It's raw, it's edgy, and it draws viewers into becoming emotionally involved as they root for their favorite drivers and cars.
"To me, this is the world's largest game show," said Rich Christensen, who is the creator, producer, and face of PINKS on TV. "My job is to go out there and communicate, so if it's your first time to the track, you'll know exactly as much as someone who's been watching for 20 years. You might not know all the intricacies of how the car works, but you'll certainly know that the first to the finish line wins and the loser goes home."
Rich Christensen is the founder,...
Rich Christensen is the founder, host, face, and soul of PINKS. With his combination of attitude, showmanship, energy, and the ever-present TV camera, each event has become an alluring panorama of everyday racers struggling to beat the odds and win.
In the years that PINKS has been on cable TV, the show has progressed through different incarnations. PINKS Lose the Race-Lose your Ride, drew immediate interest and was an instant hit for the SPEED cable television network. Yet, even with a bona fide hit on their hands, the TV executives knew the basic formula needed tweaking. Various gambling laws severely limited at which tracks the show could be run, and casting became difficult, as individual racers quickly learned this was a great place to advance a personal agenda.
PINKS All Out debuted in September 2006 with the goal of expanding the field to 250 racers with a $10,000 grand prize. The new format was a hit as well. SPEED never intended to get into the event business, but the success of the program has led to their appearance at 28 tracks across the country. It also spawned a spin off, known as Arm Drop Live, which has an aggressive schedule with 33 events planned for just this year alone.
"Arm Drop is my opportunity to go around the country to smaller tracks that PINKS wouldn't go to," Christensen explains. "It means that racers don't have to travel so far to see me. I come to see them. We put on the exact same show as PINKS All Out, and I love the intimacy of it."
During the course of each PINKS All Out event, the show's technical advisors evaluate the field of grassroots drag racers as they run through two rounds of time trials. Thirty-two entries are then selected based upon the closeness of competition, consistency in performance, and, of course, their adherence to the rule of running "all out." Once selected, the 32 cars will run off down to a field of 16 finalists, which are then rigged with cameras and microphones before their final eliminations. Once the field is narrowed down to just two cars, a best two out of three round robin finale will determine the ultimate winner.
Christensen talks about the basic rules constantly while he's wired to a live mic at the starting line. For the 32 finalists, they are exceptionally simple:
* First to the finish line wins, the loser goes home.
* If you go too fast, you're thrown out.
* If you jump before the arm drops, you're done.
* If you take too long, you're disqualified.
* If you drop coolant on the track, you're banned for life.