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This month I don't want to get into a "bitch-fest" about the most obvious targets on the planet, NHRA and the crew at the helm of that sinking ship, so let's keep it short and sweet.
I am in the midst of a really busy time. My business, Trailer Toad LLC, is getting orders faster then we can complete them, we have two race cars that are not being cooperative, and the best part is we have our two grandkids with us for about six weeks while my son and his wife get relocated from the Coast Guard base in Guam to their new station in Key West, FL. (I know, tough duty to have to go to Key West for three years, right?)
I have been doing as much bracket racing around here (Iowa) as I can, and I am noticing one thing that never changes: it's the same people that I have been racing against for 30 years! Sure, there are a couple new faces once in a while, but that’s mostly the children or grandkids of older racers that have been there for three decades.
When I owned a dragstrip and leased another, I was always trying to come up with an idea to get more "newbies" interested. The more time that passes and as daily driver cars become almost impossible to work on, I think we might have a problem with gathering new interest. What do you think?
I have always liked to compete. It started when I was about six years old and would go fishing with my friends at the local creek and rivers as everybody tried to get the biggest fish. Then it was baseball where you always tried to win. Then came golf, and I loved that sport because you had to rely on yourself, not teammates. I got involved in racing through my dad who raced stock cars, and that just fueled the desire to get out there and compete, plus it got me interested in the mechanics of how everything worked.
I have to admit I still like to watch dirt track races and sometimes I think I missed the boat by never building a stock car, but... I get over that feeling when they have to peel one car off the other and both cars are torn up battling for a $200 purse.
What can we do to get young people interested in drag racing? Are we so technical and experienced that a new driver gets tired of getting beat every time he or she shows up and so loses interest? Could be. Is the younger generation still as "competitive" in life as the older guys? I sure hope so, for the future of our country.
Maybe we could all talk to our kids and see if they have any friends that might want to come out and become official pit crew members for a race day. Hopefully, getting them involved and showing them not only what they can do to help but getting them interested will bring them back and stir up some interest.
It always seems to come down to money when you talk to someone about getting out to the track and running their car. So, just have them bring their street car. Look it over with them and show them what to check; start with the basics. Oil level, look for any new leaks, trans fluid level, tire pressure, etc. Then go to the staging lanes and show them where they need to go, where the burnout area is and maybe how to drive around it. Have them watch some racers stage their cars and explain how the lights on the tree are activated by the car's tires.
Keep it simple but MOST IMPORTANTLY tell them to have fun and that there is no need to be worried about being embarrassed by being there for the first time. (One of my first runs I started a burnout in reverse because the guys had me back up and I forgot to put it in second gear. Oops.)