Up On The Soapbox – This Week’s Two Cents

It’s practice tree season with what appears to be at least a dozen or so Practice Tree Races across the country set to take place or have done so already. Some of which are paying out some rather hefty purses, add in the slot car drag races which take place and it’s like racing never stops. I guess those events also take into account the partying atmosphere and the getting together of friends of like interests. Where else can you consume adult beverages and still get “behind the wheel.”

Interesting read in this month’s issue of the Performance Racing Industry Magazine. There’s one story on the drag racing course for 2019. A couple of good interviews from builders and racers in our sport except for it starting out in the first paragraph by crediting Ron Leek with “originating the bracket racing craze.”

There’s little doubt that Leek should be credited with the advent of high dollar bracket racing, but it wasn’t he who “originating the bracket racing craze.” That “craze” began somewhere out west with an enterprising track promoter seeing the light. It’s a little unclear as to who really originated the trend but names like Pappy Hart, Steve Gibbs and others come to mind. Those are the ones who should be credited with helping to save our sport at least on the local level. Without bracket racing, I’m not sure what we’d have on a weekly basis.

In the same issue is an interview with Glen Cromwell, president of the NHRA. Good read and he says all the right things, I just hope he can follow through with some of his ideas.

One thing which stood out to me in his interview was his mentioning of his past experience in other forms of entertainment and I quote his remarks from the interview, “But I’ve always stood up and said the experience gave me the ability to see that we’re in the entertainment business. We are in racing, yes, but we’re really in the entertainment business. It’s corporate America, it’s ticket sales, it’s fans, it’s putting on a show that people want to come back year in and year out and see and buy a $45 ticket. If you get all wrapped up on the racing side of things and lose vision on that, it can be a challenging time.”

That was pretty enlightening in that it has been my contention that powers-that-be should ask the question of themselves, “Are we in the entertainment business, or are we in the race sanctioning business?” I’m not so sure one can be successful attempting to satisfy both entities. There’s little doubt that when it comes to the national event scene, it’s all about entertainment and I think… this might sound funny coming from me as a sportsman racer himself… but just maybe we should eliminate sportsman racing from some national events. Oh, I know what you’re probably thinking… “Don’t give ‘them’ any ideas.” But I believe those ideas have already been discussed. It just might be no one knows how to implement them. Me included for that matter.

It was probably back in the ‘90s when I can remember the national event held in Columbus being flooded out and we had to run the pros on one weekend and the sportsman on another. It’s happened a couple of other times as well since then. It was then when I thought, “Maybe ‘they’ could be on to something?”

Run just a two- or three-day race, with pros only or add in some filler class like alcohol. Some might say, “They need the sportsman cars as filler.” To which I don’t think so. After all, I’m not sure we need to be racing from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. That just wears out the staff. Two or three days and put on a great show for the fans. Or maybe turn the sportsman side of things over to each individual Division, allowing them to run that side of the “show,” with the understanding that the entertainment portion comes first. I guess we somewhat have that now, but when the “big show” comes into town, I think it’s still run by the higher ups in control.

There was a release sent out this week regarding the mountain motor Pro Stock team, Team Aruba’s running with the NHRA Pro Stockers at some events. We had it posted on our website - https://dragracingedge.com/featured-news/team-aruba-readies-for-2019-tour-including-four-nhra-national-events/ - but I’m not sure that’s just a wish list thing or not because there hasn’t really been any “official” talk of that happening. That release was simply what we were given and we posted. As far as what we were told; and once again nothing “official;” they would run as exhibition at four events this year where the NHRA Pro Stockers weren’t running.

Gotta get off the soapbox for now but if you get the chance and get the PRI magazine, read the whole interview and let me know what you think.