Wandering off the subject (a little bit) an onto the street

For the past eight or so years now I have had the privilege and the honor of writing this monthly column seen here on DRO and read by at least seven or eight of you every month. Yes, Dave, that includes you.

The premise of my column is to be geared towards nostalgia drag racing and what goes on in its little slice of heaven. However, occasionally “The Dark Lord”, I mean the fine editor of this wonderful publication, Mr. Jeff Burk will graciously allow me the opportunity to venture off the reservation so to speak and reach out and see what else lies out there in our world of drag racing.

So, as I sit here in my office looking out the window at the twenty-two inches of snow we had in my back yard in Boise, Idaho -- which is melting at a dangerously rapid rate -- it strangely enough brought to mind where our sport is and how the sport is perceived, possibly.

Therefore, this month there is something on my mind. I will do my best to be as salient as possible on this subject matter and do what I can to start some sort of conversation.

Street Outlaws: Could they revive the NHRA?

The television show Street Outlaws, which depicts the antics of a group of street racers in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The group of racers/ businessmen and women which are led by a very charismatic gentleman, Justin Shearer, better known as Big Chief.

The foundation of the show is to see which (street) racecar is worthy enough to be on Oklahoma City’s self-described “Top Ten List” of fastest street cars. This is achieved by “street races” and call outs in a way of moving up the list to achieve the number-one spot.

Now, I can just about say that everybody who reads this column (all seven of you), have seen at least one or more episodes of this show. (Then there is Chachi, who lives for this program).

Is this the positive avenue that drag racing needs to win back some of the popularity it has lost over the past decade, or is glorifying the number one reason that Wally Parks formed the NHRA back in the 1950’s?

It has been documented that when the cast of the show showed up at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indy last month, the general population who attended the PRI Show and many of the venders with booths at the show flocked to get a glimpse of these Street Outlaws, like it was the second coming of the Messiah.

It was also interesting to see that some of the venders at PRI partnered with these “Street Outlaws” so the characters of the show could either debut their new cars or had their cars in the vendor’s booth to draw attention to the vendor’s product.

So, is the industry embracing this group of street outlaws, which showcase racing their “street” cars on the street? Yes, I know scene is staged; filming is done in a controlled environment on a closed street with fire/safety personnel in place. Once again, it is the premise of being “outlaw” street racing; racing on the streets and not being apprehended by the cops.

Furthermore, most of these cars are not really street cars, the cars are full blown racecars, and while some have steel bodies on them, they are more or less full tube chassis cars built for drag racing. Now some are built more safely than others, as was shown on a YouTube video as Tim McAmis reacted to Shawn Ellington (known as Murder Nova on the show) driver’s seat arrangement and construction in Ellington’s car. “Yeah, that thing is just f-----g death.”

In the interest of fair reporting, Ellington had a new Murder Nova built, using all steel body panels (well maybe) from the shop of Don Dial Racing in Oklahoma that has proven to be lighter and safer than the original Murder Nova.

Street Outlaws is a very popular show on cable television. With ratings showing that nearly 2.4 million people on average watch the program according to a Nielsen report, as opposed to the largest NHRA race ratings 1.386 million views that watched the US Nationals, according to a December 31, 2016, NHRA.com article.