TV Coverage & Hobbyists - 4/10/19

Two things this week with one being television coverage and the second… oh yeah… hobby racers.

I’m not really a spectator kind of guy but I did watch two races on TV this weekend to see just how the crowd looked. Last week, I posed the question of just what the second Las Vegas Four-Wide race might look like in terms of spectators. Last year’s Vegas Four-Wide was a sellout, but it was the first year for that type of racing. Oftentimes subsequent events of the same variety suffer from dwindling crowds and I was curious to see what this year’s Four-Wide looked like. I didn’t attend the event because I’m scheduled to go to Vegas next week for the K&N Spring Fling Million. Spending that much time away from home just isn’t in my budget, but I did schedule time to watch the NHRA/FOX broadcasts.

Happy to report from what I saw on TV, it looked pretty good. There were some holes in the stands but overall the crowd looked good and I’m happy to see that. Every sports avenue is suffering from dwindling crowds and I’m not sure it has much to do with anything other than the fact there is so many things for people to spend their dollars on. Of course, the good crowds in Vegas was opposed to the Bristol NASCAR race. I’ve never been to a Bristol NASCAR race but was always under the impression it was a packed house. One hundred thousand plus seats were always sold out… but not this year. It really looked bad on TV with the seats in the turns appearing to be blocked off with fans masquerading as aluminum seats. Glad Vegas was packed.

I’m really not a fan of Four-Wide racing and it appeared to my simple mind that it was very confusing while watching it on TV as to who “won” or “lost.” I can adapt to most anything and it might take more than just two races a year to get used to Four-Wide. But for right now, I’m glad the fans enjoyed it and we’re going back to two-wide.

Last week or so, Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Steve Johnson and Matt Smith got into a little tiff over hobbyist racers. I guess Smith made some comments stating that those who have other business concerns outside of racing are hobbyists to which Johnson took offense because he is very pro-NHRA, always wanting to do more to promote the sport. For that he is very outspoken and wants to see the sport of drag racing grow. His feeling is that Smith’s comments somewhat degrade what everyone is out there doing.

The truth is that the description of the word hobby is one which is a pursuit outside of one’s regular occupation; Merriam-Webster’s definition, not mine, but I have to agree. After all, they’re the “professional” wordsmiths, not me. So in that regard, Smith just might be right. However, that doesn’t mean each of those racers; both pros and sportsman; don’t approach racing in a very professional manner. Each of those racers take a very business-like approach to their racing. The fact that it is not their regular occupation should really have nothing to do with anything. Maybe the question might be: Just what is their regular occupation? Many of those racers who own other businesses also own “other businesses.” Does that make any of them hobbyists in their “other businesses?” I don’t think so.

I’m really not sure what Smith was alluding to with his comments or just what precipitated him taking a stand. But the facts the way I see it are that many racers; once again, pros and sportsman, to which I include the thousands of bracket, heads-up and other racers; take a careful approach to their “hobby” which mirrors any business. And I certainly don’t look down on any of them, nor would I treat them any differently when it comes time to race.

Just my $.02 and probably not worth much more. -John DiBartolomeo