Telling the truth in a kind way

How do you call out a group without alienating them, especially when you know and respect a large number of them personally? How do you speak your mind about a subject that you’re passionate about and not make those people turn away from you? That is the dilemma that I am facing right now. So here goes nothing.

Drag racing, and especially nostalgia drag racing, is a lifestyle to me. I live it and breathe it with passion and conviction. So when the Nightfire Nationals at Boise came around I was disappointed at the turnout of the Top Fuel teams. Nine cars? Nine cars at a race that is one of the crown jewels of the season? That's a shame. 

Now, did those nine who showed up work their behinds off and put on a good show? Good side-by-side racing in both qualifying and eliminations? You bet. 

Was there a huge amount of carnage, which led to huge oil-downs and delays? No there was not, to all of you detractors.

Now I understand the entire economic conditions in which our country is trying to muddle through, and if a car owner and/or a driver is being responsible and putting food on the table and shoes on their kids’ feet, and if there is a lack of discretionary income to the point were they can’t run their car, than I can understand it. I stand and applaud your personal responsibility. Family comes first.  

But to those who are not in the group, I have one question: Where the hell were you?

The feeling I get is that some of the owners and drivers are parking their stuff due either to the new NHRA rules, or to the fact that it takes a small army to run dragsters under their current rule packages. But no matter what the reasons are, it is time for the group of Top Fuel car owners to either crap or get off the pot. 

In my opinion (and that is what this column is, my opinion), nostalgia drag racing is what is going to keep this sport of nitro racing afloat. Has anybody noticed the crowds at the big shows lately? They're pathetic, along with the car counts.

Nostalgia nitro racers, it is time for you guys to pick up the flag and start carrying the sport. Crowds at Bakersfield were great, it was nearly SRO at Boise (that means Standing Room Only, no seats available, for those of you in Fontana), and there was a huge gate at Bowling Green and Cordova.   

Nostalgia events are much more fan friendly and interactive than the Big Show has become. Can anybody tell me when they saw signs by Jack Harriss’ trailer or Jim Murphy’s trailer saying Jim or Jack would be signing at 12:00 and 2:00? No, you don’t. Nostalgia drivers almost always stop what they are doing to sign an autograph. They get it. 

However, there are some of us inside the sport who need to be reminded periodically who the end user of our product is: the people who sit in line for up to an hour to pay money to get into an event, who pay money to park, who pay money for driver souvenirs -- the fans. I feel one of many reason why people will continue to show up to nostalgia races is that access and interaction that is being lost at the Big Show races where drivers have started to hide in their haulers or motorhomes.