When I graduated from high school (and no sly remarks about that being when diplomas were carved on stones) and after a brief college career (yes, I finished college in four months… couldn’t take it anymore) I took a job working at a car dealership.
They wanted to purchase what was at that time a very sophisticated machine to turn down brake drums and rotors (something I don’t think anyone does any more). Due to the expense of the machine, they needed assurance they would have the brake business to pay for it. The dealership enlisted the help of a local auto parts whose owner agreed to fund part of the cost with the understanding he’d be able to have his work done on it for a more-than-reasonable labor cost.
All went well for several years after which the dealership informed the auto parts store the cost had to be increased significantly to which a not-so-nice “discussion” ensued. That has always bothered me as I believe the dealership forgot what got them to the party. And it’s something that still bothers me today.
All too often I believe we have a tendency to forget where we came from. It happens every day. You’ve seen it even more so today than ever before. I’m not even going to get into the world we live in today, but from a drag racing perspective, it even happens there, where sometimes money becomes the deciding factor.
One more non-racing example. I grew up within five miles of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey, the home of the football Giants (that explains my loyalty to them), the Meadowlands horse racing track and an indoor arena. When the arena was built, it was named in honor of the then current governor of the state, who probably had something to do with its building; the Brendon Byrne Arena.
In 1996, Continental Airlines obviously ponied up some money and there went the Brendon Byrne name off the building and it became the Continental Airlines Arena which eventually became the IZOD Arena. Because I no longer live in that area, I don’t know what it’s become now, but that’s regardless.
In drag racing, we have one of the longest running NHRA national events, the U.S. Nationals held in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. Actually begun as simply the Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas, in 1955. It was eventually moved to its present location in 1961 and been held there ever since, possibly the most sacred and sought after win on any drag racer’s resume.
Now first of all, I understand the need for an influx of money into the sport. And some of you may not agree with this; maybe even most notably NHRA themselves, but it’s my belief we should hold some things special.
In 2001, the U.S. Nationals name became the MAC Tools U.S. Nationals. I have nothing against MAC Tools as they used to be a great advertiser and supporter with us. I still own quite a bit of their tool line and will always cherish the time we worked with them. The same now goes for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, and this year the Denso Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals. However, shouldn’t some things remain hallowed? And of course maybe it wasn’t NHRA who chose to “sell” the name.
I’m probably going to get some hate mail or at least cocky-eyed looks over this, but this is just my opinion and mine only.
When I began racing, I had a great mentor; a guy who believed in me and pushed me to do better. I know there were probably some questionable things he did over the years, but not to me. And I won’t forget him for it.
There’s a great story in this issue on MotorManiaTV. In it, the founder Mark Walter explains his reasoning regarding his producing live streaming of sportsman/bracket racing. “…if I ever get the opportunity to bring notoriety to the sportsman classes, I will do that,” is what he said.
And I have the same feeling. I grew up as a bracket racer and I won’t forget where I came from. Of course, things change, oftentimes having to change how we do certain things. Obviously I enjoy the NHRA-style racing but with the amounts of money at today’s bracket races, there are time when I do wish I could get back behind the wheel more than I do so now.
What I’m advocating though is not to forget where you came from. It’s a part of your DNA.