From The Editor: Working Together, A High Tide Can Lift All Boats

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There are approximately 326 million people in the United States. If there are 25,000 drag racers — and that number is likely high, but takes into account former racers or those who moonlight as drag racers every once in a while — then we comprise .0076 percent of the entire population. Even at that inflated number, relative to other hobbies and extracurricular activities that Americans partake in, we slide right into “niche” status.

I believe that a small community can accomplish far more by working together rather than against itself.

From the inside, our sport seems significant in scope — and in truth it is, as arguably the largest motorsport on earth from a participation standpoint — but when you consider the above numbers, we really are a small community, and I believe that a small community can accomplish far more by working together rather than against itself.

With the rise of unconventional new forms of racing, like no prep, and with large swaths of racers and fans distancing themselves from supporting or even following the NHRA, the degree of vitriol amongst us is, to put it simply, unnecessary. The bitter rivalries that fuel intrigue and excitement within the sport are supposed to occur on the racetrack, but instead, they’re taking place on social media, on forums, and in live feed chat rooms, between promoters, competitors, fans, and so on. Rather than realizing that a high tide lifts all boats — and there’s plenty of evidence that it does and has in drag racing — we’re kicking dirt on no prep, on radial tire racing, on the NHRA, on nostalgia racing (just kidding, everyone loves nostalgia drag racing).

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In a couple of weeks, a group of largely unknown (on a national stage) past street racers and current no prep competitors who made their living on dimly-lit backroads and drag strips in the middle of the night are going to roll out from under the tower in Houston at the NHRA SpringNationals, bringing with them a conglomeration of followers who may have never been to an NHRA race before, to watch them on a stage they likely never imagined themselves reaching in their driving careers. The partnership of the white-collar organization from Glendora and the rough-and-tumble world of grudge and no prep racing is a winner from every perceivable angle for both parties, and yet the news of this unique exhibition was met with — unsurprisingly — more negativity than positivity. And that, my friends, accomplishes nothing; unless our goal is to drive that .0076 percent number down.

The partnership of the white-collar organization from Glendora and the rough-and-tumble world of grudge and no prep racing is a winner from every perceivable angle.

As I discussed here in a prior column, our sport is one of incredible opportunity; there’s room for everyone of all walks, interests, and backgrounds, and fortunately, there are still enough fans to go around to support the vast number of different venues that comprise the world of drag racing. Rivalries are a welcome thing — James “Birdman” Finney’s social media fisticuffs with Donald Long and bracket racers has provided endless entertainment value, although potentially at the expense of no prep racing — but only to a point; a point when the bitterness and the negativity compartmentalizes our sport into opposing factions of fans; factions whose daily mission is to influence how and where others spend their entertainment dollar.

Remember, high tide.

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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