Realism vs. Optimism

Happy New Ye… Oh, forget it.  It's not that I'm not feeling very happy about the new year. It's just that… Ok, I'm NOT feeling very happy about the new year. I'll suck it up and put on my happy face. There. Looks great, doesn't it?

Since the last time we got together I was reminded that I missed an association in my year-end re-run deal. Absolutely right! Not on purpose mind-you. The Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit. They are mainly a blown alcohol circuit (which has been looking good to a lot of folks lately!) Please check them out.They have a very nice, easy to navigate website and have a ton of cool cars onboard to make this group a hit after just one season of existence. Best of luck in ‘09 gang.

I'm still feeling blah. The sharpie smile I drew on my face is fading. Let me clarify my gloom. First the good things. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have two wonderful yet spirited boys (the Things) who are happy and healthy. Both of my parents are alive and I get to see them quite often, as do the boys. The Things’ Mom is doing just fine, thank you. I have great bandmates and race friends who put up with me even after a few adult beverages. I get to drive my "brother from another mother" Danny Pisano's Nitro Funny Car. I have a job. Things are looking pretty good on paper and deep down inside I'm happy. I'm just not feeling very optimistic about the coming racing season.

I've tried the ever popular "Think Positive!" deal and it hasn't added to my checkbook balance. Expenses are up. Income is down. I'm not the only racer out there feeling this. I'm having trouble stretching a dollar. Racing has fallen in my priorities. Sorry. I'm not one to sacrifice school activities or Cub Scouts for my kids so I can act like it's 1977 and I'm Dale Pulde. (Or your favorite match racer from the day) I see lots of delusional posts on the message boards these days asking, in subtle ways mind you, that we step up our race programs amid times of uncertainty. Even some of the racer groups are asking for more money from the car owners to vigorously promote their group. That’s a great idea. How many car owners’ businesses are doing well enough for them to participate? A bunch I hope. For myself and my group, it's time to hunker down and look at our program. If we can rub enough nickels together, we will need to decide which events or event do we want to run this year? After our troubles last year we decided to not go out again until we had billet heads (and more than one set, ok) and a different rear-end gear in the car. Well, that took some coin from the race fund that should have been replaced by now. Not happening.

The big show folks are actually more realistic to the economy than we are. Some things I've read have this, "We can do it! Let's clean out the barn and put on a Show!" feel to them. That's great. But even though I've been known to play drums at a Surf show in drag doesn't mean I'm playing Judy Garland to the masses this time around.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. It can move mountains. Hopefully it can move some previously non-nitro'ed fans to flock to the drag strip to fill the stands, and maybe our wallets, in these very trying economic times. I'm sorry, but I don't see it happening. In the west we have way too many things going on that compete for your entertainment dollar. Most of these happen in a climate controlled environment. That's a debate for another time and place. Getting new folks out to the drags and getting them to come back has been a major problem for the big show and it only makes it worse for us little guys and gals. Getting spectators to come out to an event is one thing. How about the racers being able to get themselves to the track? I know, I'm a downer. A kill-joy. A sour-ball. A non-believer. A spoil-sport. A bummer. A bad deal. A bad scene. A drag. And on and on.

Maybe, I'm realistic. And in these trying times we need to look at ourselves and put the testosterone away and get real with the nostalgia drag racing scene, its market, and where we actually fit in as racers. I think we're a footnote to a subtext. Like any other scene, there's peer pressure to conform. It's easy to get caught in the moment and think you really need to make that next race at all costs. Get real, times are different now.  It's fine if you need to park your car to take care of your family and business. The economy will rebound and drag racing will continue on.

Could this whole economic melt-down be someone's idea of a bad joke, reminding us nostalgia racers that what we do is really just an expensive hobby?

Time will tell. For me, maybe I'll see you all at the March Meet. Or not.