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Drag racing track operators and all the various organizations that rule the asphalt roost tend to get stuck in what I call the SOS fog. That, of course, stands for Same Ole Shit. It’s much easier to do the same thing over and over and not be thought of as the antichrist to the motorsports establishment. The problem is that participating in SOS leads to financial Armageddon. I was not immune to it. But when I did get this dreaded affliction I did find a way out. If I ran a high end motorsports consulting service (oh, wait a minute...I do) every client would be required to make two field trips. The first trip would be to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert. The second would be a day trip to the Phoenix Open PGA Golf Tournament.
First a look at the TSO experience. Forget about the music. You must go to see what surrounds the music. In short it is the most spectacular beat-down of your senses in the history of entertainment. It includes every trick known to mankind including massive pyro, spectacular lasers, stages that hover over the audience, and hot backup singers all mixed in with eye contact and audience touch points. Say what? I swear every band member took a course in Eye Contact 101. By the end of the show I doubt there was a single fan out of 13,000 that didn’t think that performance was just for them. The band often wandered into the audience to take a seat while they were playing. They would grab the occasional snack from an audience member, give hugs, high fives and fist bumps. They made the connection and made it fun.
So why can’t drag racing adopt these things? It can, but everyone is more concerned with track temps than fan interaction. Hence field trip #2. Welcome to the PGA Phoenix Open.
There is probably nothing more pure and set in tradition than a PGA golf tournament. They take pride in calling it a “gentleman’s game.” To this day players are forbidden to wear shorts. You actually call penalties on yourself and before a player makes a swing the crowd is told in no uncertain terms to be quiet. Then along came the Phoenix Open.
Someone got the idea that golf needed an up-close stadium-type atmosphere so they built a 15,000 seat stadium around the 165 yard, par 3 sixteenth hole. And then they had the audacity to tell fans to yell and boo as long as they like. The professional golfers caught on and the caddie races became legendary. That’s where each player’s caddie races with a full bag of clubs to see who can reach the green first. It fosters a huge betting contingent and dare I say “fun” atmosphere. Players do touchdown dances. Ben Hogan would have stroke.
Oh yeah -- guess what PGA tournament holds the single and multiple day attendance record every year? So isn’t it time for our industry to remove our collective heads out of our rectums and make a concerted effort to make our piece of entertainment fun again? There is a cure for SOS. And you can even wear shorts.
I have always been fascinated by the incredible horsepower and cubic inch numbers that are bantered around drag racing circles. Then I read about the motor that powers one of the largest cargo ships in the world. I give you the 14RT-flex 96C.
- It has a 25,480-liter displacement producing 109,000 horsepower.
- Each of the 14 pistons has a stroke length of 8.2 feet .
- The diameter of each cylinder is 38 inches.
- The cost to fill up the tank is about 10 million dollars.
- It takes 5 nautical miles for the ship to come to a dead stop.
- The ship is the CMA/CGM Marco Polo.
- It can haul 16,000 shipping containers.
Before 2014 is over IHRA and NHRA will combine companies under the new STHRA banner. That would Scott and Tom’s Hot Rod Association. Stay tuned.