DOES ANYBODY REALLY LISTEN?

As a member of the media, I’ve asked that question a number of times. Now I know people read what we write and I, along with every other writer, likes to hear the compliments along with the critiques. Okay maybe not always the critiques, but yes, we know people read what we write. The concern comes in when we make a suggestion which we feel would benefit our sport and it seems to fall on deaf ears to the powers-that-be.

Speaking of the critiques a little first… I’m always in awe when people compliment me as to a certain story or an issue. It makes a person feel good. But I know there are instances where we make mistakes or sometimes “s**t the bed,” so to speak. It’s actually hearing about those times which makes us a better person, in this case a better writer, so I thank you for that as well as the compliments.

Anyway, I’m no expert in maybe just about anything. The term “jack of all trades, master of none” is me in a nutshell. Oh sure, there are a variety of things I do and in most cases I’m pretty good at those. But I don’t profess to know it all. Now, I’m sure most of you know that I’ve been in this drag racing game a long time, as have a lot of us. We certainly do this because we have a passion, not necessarily for the money, although that is what keeps the lights on in my house. But it’s that passion which keeps us with the thoughts of racing in our minds 24/7. When we see those who seeming don’t understand or share that passion, it certainly bothers us. And I’m not pointing any figures here, or insinuating any one person in particular.

Oftentimes we’ll write or make a suggestion as to where we think the future of our sport should go, and while we certainly are not privy to some of the inner workings, we do think our experience should count for something. But again, I question if anyone is listening.

Let me give you an example. Several years ago as a member of the original Sportsman Racers Advisory Council, which NHRA formed as a means to get input from racers, we lobbied to have a rule changed. It was a very simple common sense item which they had disallowed for years, but seemingly made no sense at all as to them not allowing it. As racers, we were all in favor of them rescinding the rule but our suggestions seemingly went nowhere, as if no one was listening. Sound familiar?

It finally took my esteemed associate Jon Asher speaking with then NHRA president Tom Compton who “listened” and had the rule reversed. In truth though, as much as I love that guy, Jon Asher is certainly the last person you’d want to ask “tuning advice” from and I think he’d admit it. But he is a very common sense-thinking person. When I explained the rule to Asher, he couldn’t understand the reasoning behind it and the two of us sat down with Compton to explain the ramifications of the ruling. To this day, I believe had it not been for that one person “listening,” we’d still have that rule in place.

Now as for those inner workings, I think we could all walk into any of your businesses if you own one or companies where you work and make hundreds of suggestions as to what is being done wrong. But those are not our businesses. The decisions made behind closed doors are usually made by men and women whose names are on the doors. Yes, we can make suggestions, but the fact as to whether or not they’re followed isn’t up to those of us on the outsides. Except… Maybe in the case of drag racing where we all have the passion to see it succeed and not flounder. I spoke last week about Drag Racing being dead, which it most certainly is not, nor is it in reality floundering, so let me just put that out of your mind. Somehow though we’d just like to see it “better.”

We all think we “know it all,” but the one thing I’ve always tried to live by is “keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.” My eyes are always open but sometimes it’s hard to keep your mouth shut when you see certain things. It’s times like that when it’s necessary to “open your mouth.” Hopefully, somebody is listening. -John DiBartolomeo