This one may be full of more twists and turns than Junior Johnson's nocturnal excursions outrunning the "Revenuers".
My passion, as stated in the past, is a thing called racing. It's done with machines called cars, trucks, boats, planes and even lawnmowers. I love being around people, who love being around people who love it as much as I do. Sights, sounds, smells, etc. are all part and parcel. Last weekend, at Bakersfield, was much of what I just described. In fact, to the very moment I type this, one week ago, I posted an opinion, "Sometimes a problem contains its own solution". Although, it was met with some criticisms, enlightenment, etc. via private messages and e-mail. To that end, I questioned what I had posted and had thought about deleting. I attributed the possibility to an overwhelming sense of guilt, for my opinion... and for the reaction from one of my personal icons. Luckily, the travails of mastering my new (day old) phone hindered the process. I gave up and left it, because a couple people shared it by the time I figured it out how that high priced piece of plastic worked. One should never feel guilty for hanging/clinging to an opinion. One of my early morning exchanges, regarding the post, touched on an "Us vs Them" mentality that was prevailing in some areas of our world, as it relates to events and loyalty. This discussion transpired during a well-rounded breakfast at Milt's, with the lovely and talented Pete Jensen as our booth mate. As we discussed the topics of the moment, I concluded and concurred, no point in deleting it now. Read on.
I am questionably lucky, to have been clued in a little more than the average bear. I am grateful for the trust instilled in me, by well-placed sources... on both sides. I won't mention names in most cases, I'll keep it to myself if told to and I kind of get tired of talking, real quick (ask my wife). Maybe, that is in my favor, if it is a secret to be kept. The business side of our hobby is like any other business... practices are pretty generic. Loyalties, indiscretions, philosophical differences and a host of other points of view are incorporated into the general scheme. Here, is where the "Us vs Them" starts to rear its ugly head. Within a period of a few weeks, two events took place. First was the Inaugural Nitro Revival, much anticipated, by everyone including yours truly. An alternative to the Reunion and THE "right way" to do this type of event. Along with many others, I was in total support of the event. I volunteered all my skills, gratis, in any way needed. I felt honored to be taken up on my offer to be a part. Steve Gibbs, his team and those who attended, came away from a fine event when the dust had settled. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend due to my business commitments. It wasn't without effort, but I had to realize my limitations. Friends who were there filled me in, and I was definitely envious. The rumor is there is another already being planned. Sadly, shortly after, Ron Johnson, one of the principles lost his battle with cancer. Raise a glass, Cheers to Ron.
The "Reunion" had lost much of its luster with a confusing chain of events last year. NHRA promised it would be more like those of the past. The skeptical were none too willing to accept at face value, it had to be proven. The attendance at this year's Reunion was down considerably and well noted. Although it was nice to not be elbow to elbow in the Grove. You could actually walk without bumping into others and it seemed the golf cart warriors were kept to a minimum as well. The weather was decent and the dust was down thanks to an early rain, BIG plus!
What comes next is in no way forgiving the powers that be. My sole reason for even being here this year, was to take my kid to Legoland. It happened, this was the only weekend we could book a room in the Legoland hotel (promise made to said kid). I have met a ton of people over the time I have went to the Reunion. Most of those, it's the only place I ever get to see them. When I had to miss the Revival, I committed to the Reunion, so I could see friends I missed when I had to cancel. We did Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Famoso and Sunday through Tuesday was spent at Kid Mecca in Carlsbad. I really had low expectations for some aspects. I was surprised at the number of people I knew who did show. After last year, many said they would never return and cursed the event. It was surprising to see many of them changed their minds. I was one of them and to a person, when the discussion turned to the event, many echoed each other saying it was about the friends. After, each summation of why the particular person chose to attend, it was in most cases followed by," If it falls on its face, so be it. At least we get to see our friends one more time."
We have had a tradition the last few years, at the 1000' mark, the municipality of Buckersfield establishes itself. We put a pop-up in the top of the stands and welcome all. It's an interesting mix of friend and foe, internationally populated and a few of our more well-known members of the hobby/sport make an appearance. Lives are caught up on, tall tales told and new friends are made. When one could catch a few bars for a signal on the smart phones, there was usually a mention made of the deluge of posts on Facebook by those not attending. This is where the " Us vs Them" thing breaks down into a division and for some...a lame show of character. The shrinking of this hobby, due to finances, aging, death and indifference, is gaining in its scope. Those are enough reasons to put the bullshit aspect of this behind us. Throwing support behind the cause of your choice is an admirable trait. It shows loyalty still exists and can unite into a sizable, productive and beneficial group...sometimes. But, when those who share the passion for the hobby/sport, yet eschew the politics of it, downing them for it is unfair and calls for a good old-fashioned punch in the nose for some. First of all, the larger number of people, the spectators who shell out the dough to see us play, have no idea what's beneath the surface. Attempting to chase them away or discourage their attendance is pointless. Secondly, the rift caused amongst participants is the last thing we need. As in most cases, half the people (or more) who fight things are ill-informed and only rely on what they are told. I have heard a number of people commenting on what is going on with" So and so told me they heard...”Dammit”, if you are going to fight something, equip yourself with facts, not hearsay. These events are to honor the memories of the era when drag racing was great. The ironic part, in its birthplace, there are only a couple of drag strips left. Both of the events, the topic of this tome, were started by the same revered soul. Honoring him is foremost, without him I doubt the initiative to follow through on these events would exist. His efforts are why we get to do this. Sure, "they" pretty much screwed him and that is unforgivable. People will go where they want or can go, despite their loyalty, when events are few. Anyone who was there did and will eternally sing his praises, recognizing what he wrought. The prevailing opinion had the Reunion as just another event, since his departure. From his absence to the reduced number of vintage dragsters to the miniscule auction offerings, It just wasn't the same and it was almost as if people were searching for some kind of name to give it.
A lack of unity only leads to the death of this. How many times have you went to a wedding and didn't like one or the other of the couple, but went for the celebration? Cherry picking which injustice suits your point of view is fine, but it cannot be imposed on those who feel differently.
I don't agree with what they did to Steve and neither does anyone else. Some of that unfortunately is the expected behavior of drones who do as told, with no true knowledge of what this undeniable piece of Americana consists of. There were some of us, who with the passing of time, decided to go and see if they would keep their promises. Did they? That is up to a broader swath of the public who went, to ascertain. The aura wasn't there like years past. My previous recount of friends was there, for the most part, the magic of nitro did its job. But now, it's just another event, I will more than likely attend again, with the Hippo. My friends are what make it now and maybe as long as they go, I suppose I will. You can never have too many friends. I hope this behind the back and somewhat public rift didn't cost many people this valuable commodity. One should ask themselves if it is worth it to hang so tightly to one thing that forsakes a bigger thing in the grand scheme.
When it is all over, do you look back in regret?
Especially if it tears down friendships and our playgrounds, as well?
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck