A PEEK AT THE PAST

Boy, did the year 2020 ever change things or what?

I realize this being 2045, some of you reading this may not have even been born, but allow me a minute to bring you up to speed as to what happened that year (of course, it would really take much more than a minute but…).

Twenty-twenty began with a lot of enthusiasm, although at that point some five years past what was illustrated in the 1989 classic film, Back The Future II, set in 2015, a lot of the things in that film never materialized in actual 2015. Although if you haven’t seen that classic, some are in use today; drones for gathering news info, the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series in 2016, video chat systems, etc.

But no, by the time March of 2020 rolled around, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of things to be shut down, movie theaters, gyms, mom & pop stores, and of course drag racing. In March, while many of drag racing’s drivers were at the NHRA Gatornationals, President Donald Trump announced that a pandemic was strangling the world and it was necessary to shut down all unnecessary events. Sports took a big hit as did the economy of the country.

By the end of the year, mask wearing to attempt to not spread the disease became in vogue with seemingly the only companies making money were those producing the masks or hand sanitizers. That futile effort failed somewhat as the disease spread anyway but people still wore masks and it wasn’t until late in 2021 when the American public fully realized the stupidity and said “I’ve had enough,” maybe finally becoming tired of the shutdowns and loss of freedoms. Not only did it break the economy of the country, it divided people and families more so than any kind of political beliefs might. Wearing/not wearing the mask became a bone of contention in many aspects of life back then.

By 2020, bracket racing events paying big money for the time were beginning to explode. In ’20 alone, there were two events paying an actual one million dollars to the winner. This year, 2045, there are four, with eight other bracket races paying $500,000 to the winner of each. Ironically, the NHRA championships in 2019 payed “only” $500,000 or less to the professional series champs. In ’20, due to the pandemic, purses at the NHRA national events for the pros were cut considerably and it’s still uncertain now 25 years later what the series champs received in the way of money from their championships.

Twenty-twenty was also the year Coke dropped out as the NHRA series sponsor and the RV superstore Camping World stepped in to take its place. As for NHRA sportsman, by the end of 2020, many had become disinterested in racing national or divisional events but didn’t have too many other places to race their class-specific cars. By ’21, several race promoters stepped up and ran events where NHRA class cars could race for much of the same purse paid out at the high-dollar bracket events. Eventually that put a hurting on the NHRA races much the same as high-dollar bracket races put a hurting on the Saturday-Sunday races at local small tracks.

As for NHRA Drag Racing, by now you know that led by several national event hosting track owners, a takeover of sorts began in 2024 which has morphed the series into what it is today, a number of circus type events that highlight the two professional nitro classes only. The sportsman program changed dramatically in ’25, with each of the seven NHRA divisions holding their own events with almost no involvement from the NHRA headquarters, headquarters which long overdue moved to Indianapolis in ’26. It certainly is a far cry from the way the organization began almost 100 years ago.

Okay, so enough of this.

Suffice it to say, as we all sit here pondering what this past year 2020 has looked like, I think we can all agree that no one could ever have imagined what it has become with probably the main culprit being the pandemic. It has changed so much in our everyday lives that it may be hard to believe it will ever get back to what to us was normal.

With last week being the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s pretty much a tradition to give thanks for what we have. While it may be hard this year to dwell on the good, there still is good to be had. Just think about it, it’s not that hard. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO