Some thoughts while it’s still wintertime and before the engines are fired….
While we’re stuck indoors just patiently waiting for a chance to head out to your local drag racing emporium, now is a good time to go through all those photos you’ve shot during the previous year at events you’ve attended. Sometimes memories leave you wondering details, such as what car, race, etc., so be sure and note any information as soon as possible. I’ve learned through experience as I often have to scratch my head while sifting through photos I’ve taken back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
While sitting around this winter bench racing with buddies, consider something totally in a nostalgic vein that might put some fun and enjoyment back into your racing endeavors: consider starting a car club! Back in the earlier days of the sport, thousands of car clubs existed across the country; some consisted of only a few members, while many had several dozen with an honest-to-God headquarters meetin’ place with space to work on several cars. In those days, the club approach was a very successful and relatively inexpensive way to field a race car. Back in 1956, my cousin, Ed Miller, and I along with three buddies started the “Rovin’ Rebels” car club in Dallas and had a lot of fun with it until moves and out-of-state military schools unfortunately decimated our ranks.
For some reason, though, over the years people quit joining organizations, clubs, groups, etc. For example, my local Elks Lodge, with over 2300 members, by the mid-1980s had a membership of about 650. Car clubs similarly were affected by this phenomenon that has had the sociologists scratching their heads for several decades now. They do still exist, but their numbers are far and few between.
Today’s economy and the ever rising costs of cars, parts and equipment keep many of us on the sidelines as spectators (“Speed costs money…how fast do ya wanna go?”) instead of car owners. With that in mind, consider the idea of teaming up with some like-minded gearhead friends to…form a car club! An old-school approach such as this could once again prove the path towards being able to field a competitive vehicle via the “shared” method. Come up with a good name, set up your bylaws, regular meeting days and times, select or vote for officers, and then go out and have matching shirts with your new moniker emblazoned on the back. The fun really starts as you start pooling resources and labor and that build of the team’s new gasser, altered or digger starts to come to life. What a fun experience that will have you as a shining example of true nostalgia drag racers! I’m still trying to figure out why, for most, it all went away…..
Now, a safety warning to those who might be trying to heat their garage or work space, heed this: If your heater is of the unvented kind, it is imperative you provide some sort of ventilation in that space. Speaking from experience as, back in the ‘70s while building chassis in a small, two-car shop, my new unvented gas heater almost pulled me under one day as I was working on a problem with a hydraulic leak with my tubing bender. I was able to realize something bad was happening to me and I was able to get outside, where I nursed a king-size-from-hell headache for a while. After that I always cracked a door and a window and wore a jacket if it got a tad too cool.
When shopping for parts, be sure and check out your local speed shop. Nothing against those big catalog stores (and their so-called discount pricing), but, like the constant struggle between the mom-and-pop stores and retail giants like Walmart, it’s always nice to buy from the little guy who is trying his best to keep his prices down and his doors open and who is close by to help you if there is a problem with what he has sold you. It’s a win-win move for both of you.
Like the preceding paragraph, over the last couple of years we have seen a number of beautifully engineered and crafted dragster, altered and nostalgia funny car chassis being built in shops that are new to the national scene. During the winter, many of the big boys in the biz are very busy, so why don’t you check out a local builder for work you may need done. You might get it done a little quicker and save a few dollars in the process. Look at his workmanship and make sure the quality is on par with that of the big shops (and don’t forget to ask the guy who certifies what he builds). Thumbs up on everything and it’s another win-win deal for you both.
We can only hope that someday the powers-that-be will see fit to televise the many great nostalgia drag racing events we have across the country. Until that happens, we’re now in a holding pattern until the “Big Show” returns to the tube in February and on Fox Sports. Looks like we don’t have to set our DVRs to record at 3:00 a.m. anymore (and just get half of qualifying because the ball game went into extra innings). Let’s hope drag racing on the tube in 2016 is the show it should be and deserves to be. If you read my column last month you know my feelings about losing Mike Dunn in the broadcast booth. Several folks on social media have said that it was Fox that decided to drop Mike, but there are statements by the NHRA that indicated it was their own decision. Whisperings among those Facebook mavens claiming to have an inside tract are indicating that Tony Pedregon was hired as Dunn’s replacement to try and bring more multi-cultural viewers to the show. Whatever the reason for putting the very likable and most qualified drag racing broadcast person out to pasture after so many great years in the booth, it’s a shame and I believe that NHRA has shot itself in the foot…big time!
Finally, as we all know, “butts in the seats” have been declining at drag racing events over the years, with young folks preferring to stay in their cozy bedrooms at home, texting their friends and playing Grand Theft Auto on their PlayStations in front of their very own 42” flatscreen television. If not, it’s a skateboard ride to the mall to check out the girls. We’ve railed at you before and we’ll keep after you parents, grandparents or friends - make it a point to take those kids to a drag race this season! Make them leave that cellphone in their pocket unless they want to take photos or a video with it. Take ‘em into the pits to see the cars up close and get a whiff of nitro when one fires up. If they’re young enough, make sure he or she sees the Jr. Dragsters and all those determined boys and girls as they work on and drive the cars, vying for trophies. Who knows, you might be responsible for a future World Champion in our sport!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Connell R. Miller - Editor-in-Chief
Sign up for our email NEWSLETTER here