Now that the 2017 racing season is a bit past the halfway mark, I’ll sit back and throw out a few thoughts……
It appears this year has been a good one for anything related to the world of nostalgia racing. There have been some great events, many of which you’ve read about and seen the photographs from in the pages of Nostalgia Drag World. A number of old front engine dragsters and early funny cars have been found, bought, and either restored or presently in the restoration process. Two that come to mind are NDW contributors “Riceman” Roger Lee and Eddie Buck’s dragsters, both that came from the jig at Roy Fjastad’s Speed Products Engineering shop. Another great car that has now joined the cackle world is the “Hawaiian” recreation belonging to South Carolina’s Frank Heinig that – with Roland Leong’s blessing – came about through a collaboration with John Dearmore and Corey Conyers.
The number of more old-school appearing nitro fuel altereds and nostalgia funny cars (several with “big show” drivers at events) seem to have increased this year, as the ranks of the Pro cars in the Big Show seem to be diminishing. Articles have been written lately about the possible demise of Pro Stock in the next year or two and possibly substituting them with the exciting (but crash-prone) Pro Mods. Many also are predicting the end of Pro Stock Motorcycle in favor of bringing in the waay hairy nitro-burning, one-thousand horsepower Harleys. A couple of informal surveys taken over the last year or two, though, if sent to the powers-that-be in Glendora, would cause a few heart palpitations when they realize many TV watchers would prefer to see those nitro-snortin’ fuel altereds instead of the carbon fiber-bodied “doesn’t look anything like what is in MY driveway!”
A recent editorial was even suggesting creating ONE pro fuel class, with only one type of car – some sort of a hybrid that would combine a short(er) wheelbase Top Fuel dragster with a body that would give tribute to the Funny Car class. Sure, we might once again see a 32-car field, but… Nah, all traces back to what drag racing has been about for one class for over 65 years and the other for 51 years would be wiped out by a strange looking machine that would harken back to one of those courageous but failed experiments from decades gone past.
With parts costs going up, car counts going down, and at many events fewer butts in the stands, the Pro categories are particularly in trouble and drag racing in general is becoming less healthy. While watching the recent Fox 1 telecast of the Chicago race, a nice segment was shown of the sportsman classes. It’s not very often we get to see televised coverage of the classes that came into being with the advent of organized drag racing and are still the main reason that pits fill up at small and large drag strips all over the country throughout the year. THAT is what needs to have more coverage on the tube! Even though most of those cars still have mega-bucks tied up in them, the exposure of an old Dodge station wagon, VW bug, youngsters in their Jr. Dragsters, a wheelstanding ’55 Chevy gasser, ‘60s Ford sedan, a home-built chassis with a fiberglass roadster body or a 6 or 4-cylinder dragster making nice passes as they try for a trophy and some cash, could generate some new fans that might develop a jones to go fast on the weekend instead of playing video games at home.
While I am bringing in some mentions of Big Show racing to our pages that primarily deal with the world of Nostalgia, the future of drag racing as a viable sport is in trouble and has been for a while. A prominent writer and ex-racer in the southwest predicts another generation and it will be something we’ll be waxing nostalgic about as we gather on our park benches on the weekend, watching as that new housing development goes up in what used to be the pit area at your local speed emporium. With a general lack of new blood coming into our sport, the rising costs not only for the racers but for track owners and operators as well, and the slim-to-none profits many promoters have been experiencing with shows the last few years, it’s going to be some tough sledding for us, Bubba!
One solution I have mentioned many times in my editorials over the years is to take your kids, your cousins, nephews or nieces, a neighbor or colleague from work and his kids, to a drag race and expose them to the sport. If your kids are spending too much time in front of the television during the summer when school’s out, buckle him in the car and drive out to your local strip and see if they need some volunteer or possibly even paid help. If you are a racer, talk to a few of your local businesses and see if you can bring your car to an event one of them might be holding, where you can spread the word to some newbies by espousing the gospel of quick acceleration, hand out hero cards and maybe sell some t-shirts. I know this is old-school, but, if you and your kids have some friends that share your interest in wanting to race..start a car club, chip in dues and build and race a car.
As a youngster, I saw my first drag race 65 years ago and I have been a driver, car owner, spectator and event photographer ever since then. My hope is that my grandson, Jackson, might be able to say the same thing to a fellow senior citizen buddy as he attends a drag racing event several decades in the future. I don’t like to play the role of naysayer, but without some real work and a lot of changes, I just can’t say I’m real optimistic…..
Agree? Disagree? Please send your thoughts or any comments to us here at Nostalgia Drag World or post them on our Facebook page. If you haven’t already, please “Like” us!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - by Connell R. Miller, Editor-in-Chief