Return With us now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—for Better or Worse
PARDON MY RETREAT TO MEMORIES OF THE LONE RANGER, BUT IT’S FITTING. The photo here of Stevie “Fast” Jackson at the Lights Out 8 Drag Radial brawl harkens back to the heady days of ’60’s match-race madness.
All that’s missing is a cloud of Gold Dust rosin.
Unless you’ve been in a coma, you’re aware of how small-tire, no-prep (for a lack of a better term) “outlaw” racing has exploded in the Southeast and quickly spread across the country. Jim
Hughes at Tucson Dragway is deploying a unique approach for “no-prep” racing: He’s using the track’s shutdown area for the 1/8-mile competition. Hughes and crew are doing their part to entice wouldbe street racers to bring the action to a safe environment.
The level of excitement generated, especially by smalltire racing, is reminiscent of that frenzied period in drag racing when racers wheeling rides that had no home in sanctioned competition took to outlaw tracks, especially in the Southeast. If you didn’t witness these races, you’ve probably seen photos of fans literally lining the track and crowding the starting line.
This phenomenon has been a blessing to track operators by providing a show to lure paying customers to their facilities. It’s been quite a stretch since they’ve had such an opportunity, and frankly, it’s heartening to see the heightened level of enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this movement. The “outlaw” aspect has been overly hyped. Some racers thumb their noses at sanctioned racing and, in the extreme, spurn organized events completely; instead, turning to the street. You’re all aware of the “badass” street-racing syndrome. This situation has been exacerbated by the “reality” TV shows that glamorize it.
Drag racing has fought for legitimacy since its inception. Only within the last dozen years have local TV stations and newspapers quit labeling “street racing” incidents as “drag racing.”
For decades, sponsorship opportunities were crippled by misperceptions of the sport.
I’m hardly the first to draw attention to this situation, but all those who love drag racing must be mindful of the danger. Any of you out there who have suggestions, please drop me an email at Pward@ engagedmediainc.com.