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Given the current climate, I couldn’t help but smile a few weeks back when my pal Darr Hawthorne remarked offhandedly that NHRA, believe it or not, had strung together a couple of good years. I’m paraphrasing, but the Glendora Rangers had an improvement over the 2006 season by 14% over the previous year (I’m assuming attendance, money, and the rest of that good stuff) and then in 2008 got a 21% bump over the 2007 past. Boffo!!! Seriously, if you dig the drags, that qualifies as good news. Really good news.
Especially when you consider, as I said, the climate.
Ask anybody who had worked with me at NHRA from 1975 through 1998 and I would never be described as a tail-wagging smiling optimist. They thought I was only happy when it rained. That a hammer waited around every corner to clock the Hardy Boys.
There’s a material basis for that.
Political economy is a hobby of mine and anybody who knows me will tell you I’ve come up with some ugly visions in the last 20 years. Ask NHRA chums Phil Burgess, John Jodauga, Kevin McKenna or anyone of that era and they’ll tell you something along the lines of “Martin’s been predicting the end of the world for years.” What I had been saying was, that based on my knowledge of the profit system, all signs indicated that the future did not bode well and I won’t bore you with three more economic graphs as to why. What I said was basically that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the USA was headed for a savage, blood-soaked collision with either world war and/or economic collapse -- and these words spilled out in times of relative stability. I’ve had a decent track record in making calls like the above.
At NHRA a decade or so back, the big talk in the office was the unbeatable, unbreakable, absolutely guaranteed 401-Ks. I saw it a little differently. You’re going to let Wall Street handle your money for you? A bunch of heartless, high rolling creeps, whose universe extended to the end of their jacket sleeves playing with their deck and your money. Those assholes? I was the only one at NHRA who rejected that crap when first introduced. Well, what happened? Guess. Profit for them, LOSS for us, According to the Congressional Budget Office in mid-January, just over $2 trillion in U.S. retirement savings have been lost in the last 15 months. How do you like me now, bitch!!!
Just kidding. Just kidding. I don’t want to see any one of my friends hurt and I categorize just about anybody I worked with at NHRA with that “F” word. However, when you consider the fates of felonious plutocrats like Countrywise, Starbucks, AIG, Lehman Bros., Circuit City, Bear-Stearns, IndyMac Bank, Merrill-Lynch, God forbid Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, the whole friggin’ U.S. automotive industry, Home Depot, and overseas, the Royal Bank of Scotland (a 2008 loss of $42 billion dollars), and while we’re in England, Lloyds of London, and Barclay’s absorbing multi-billion dollars losses? And then there’s Sony suffering a 90% drop in 2008 profits and Microsoft and Macy’s with 7,500 layoffs projected. Folks, we got trouble right here in River City.
And unlike the 12 big recessions since WWII, the “fat boy’s” anarchistic behavior is going to affect US this time. “US” as in drag racing. I can remember in 1973, the first year I attended the NHRA U.S. Nationals, that gas lines in my humble North Hollywood abode extended 200-300 yards down the street from the station, but drag racing continued. It turned out that the world oil companies had ships lined up the same way from the oil producing areas of Northern Africa and the Middle East, damn near to Johannesburg. It was an oil-company produced “shortage” and profit grab that didn’t involve as many disasters as this depression has and will.