ARE DRAG RACERS REALLY CRAZY?

Maybe it’s not all about the money. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve made some comments in the past with regards to winning money, how doing so makes it all that much better. But maybe I’m wrong. (Did I really type that?) Okay, so what? LOL

We spend an awful lot of money on our “hobby.” We all know that, maybe too much at times. And I’ve been as guilty as anyone. I’ll often look at the purse of a race and I’ve advised others to do the same. But is that really the right thing to do?

Over the weekend, I happened to turn on the TV and did a little bit; okay, maybe a lot; of channel surfing. What I ended up sticking with was the United States Golf Association Women’s Amateur championship. It really was exciting to see the final holes going back and forth between eventual winner Gabriela Ruffels and Albane Valenzuela. The intensity each exhibited was riveting to watch. And all they were racin ummm… golfing for was a trophy. Yeah, a pretty impressive trophy, but a trophy nonetheless. Okay so maybe more than just a trophy as the win enabled them entry into other non-amateur events but if they prefer to remain an amateur in any of those, there is no money awarded. Some might ask, “what’s the sense if there is no money awarded?” And for each of them who choose to remain an amateur, I can’t answer that question, but there is the notoriety which for either one of those two girls will someday when they decide to go pro, mean millions in endorsements I would think. But they’ll always have the notoriety. Isn’t that what the Wally is supposed to represent?

It’s my contention there are too many Wallys floating around. It seems like that trophy which was meant to signify the winning of a special event or championship has now been given out for just about anything in our sport. Best Appearing, Best Engineered, class win, sponsor of the year, good looking woman racer… you get the idea. Although some of those are not always the full-size Wallys which are handed out for wins at national events. I think that’s what the intention was when in 1969, the first ones were designed and handed out. But it’s my contention the original purpose has multiplied over the years to where winning anything gets you a Wally. And for those not knowing, you can purchase extra Wallys for your crew, friends, or even your second cousin on your ex-mother-in-law’s side. Maybe even if you didn’t win the race. Not sure on that one but again, you get the idea.

To get back to golf for a minute… yeah, I’d like to get back to golf after I get done typing this, but I can bet that’s not going to happen, anyway… I don’t see the same type of trophy being handed out for winning each week’s event. To me it always appears different and special. I like the idea of the Ice Cream Scoop trophy handed out at the Norwalk national event as is the Cowboy hat given at the one of the Texas national events, in addition to the wine glass trophies given only to the pros in Sonoma. Things like that are what makes it special.

Yeah, the money is nice, but it gets spent pretty quickly. The trophy lasts. Does that mean we should just race for trophies? No. God no. The money sure helps and as some of the events will advertise, often it might even be “life-changing money.” I’m just wondering if we should be worried about the money. Maybe I’m being a little hypocritical here. But maybe I should be asking myself the same question.

Okay so for probably 95-percent of racers, it is a hobby. Which means that most then have some other form of financial achievement; a job, retirement savings, a trust fund, whatever. That’s great. Does that mean we shouldn’t expect any money when we win? Nah… I don’t think so.

But what I do know is that as soon as money is paid out for a win or whatever, the next time out, we expect more of the same. Look at what’s happening on the bracket racing trail. We used to race for $5,000 which was a big prize. Then some promoter decided to pay $10K, then $20K and so on. It’s like “who can top the other,” instead of making a race win something really special.

I don’t know. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Maybe I should just stop typing and go play golf. Okay. Gone.

No wait. What’s your take on all of this babble? Or maybe it’s like this 1963 Popular Science cover noted journalist Jim Samuels posted which asks, “Are Drag Racers Really Crazy?” Maybe we are. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO