Story continues below this advertisement
Where am I going with this? Simply put, is this the face that the sport of drag racing wants representing its best interest? It seems as though it is, due to the fact that one of the biggest draws at the 2016 US Nationals was Justin Shearer and the debut of his new “Crowmod” running in the J&A Services Pro Mod class.
The NHRA even produced television spots with Shearer prior to the US Nationals promoting that he was going to compete in the J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
Shearer’s performance at the event was not memorable when it came down to the numbers, however, from a publicity standpoint it could be argued it was a home run. Shearer by his own accounts could not walk in the pit area without being mobbed.
Is there a correlation between “Big Chief” being at the US Nationals and the increase in television ratings? It has a distinct possibility, thus proving the point of the “Outlaws” popularity.
In watching a recent video that focused on the exploits of Steve Earwood and Dave Densmore, who were the driving force of public relations and media interaction for the NHRA back in the 1970s and ’80s, both men openly stated that back in the day the public perceived that drag racing was an outlaw sport. Densmore and Earwood turned that around and made a positive of it in their work because they found the general public has an affinity for the outlaw connotation.
Back in the “Golden Era” of drag racing the racers had colorful nicknames and colorful personalities. Now there is this new crop of colorful people and colorful nicknames that already have a huge following of fans that might be outside the NHRA’s core demographic.
The professional categories are stale and in need of new blood and a new outlook. It needs something new, fresh. Finding a way to bring these street outlaws into the NHRA fold might be the way to help rejuvenate the sport. Who wouldn’t want to see Big Chief vs Murder Nova in a fuel funny car final round? Or seeing Daddy Dave in a Pro Stock?
I am not trying to be an employment agent for either Mr. Densmore or Mr. Earwood, but it seems to me that it might be time for NHRA President Peter Clifford to reach out to the Street Outlaws group to help make the sanctioning body relevant and vibrant again. At the same time, Mr. Clifford might want to reach out to the “Denswood” company to spear head the PR of this venture. As their vast experience and record of accomplishment are both proven to be highly successful.
Because it’s been proven that everything that is old, can be new again. Maybe it is time to make drag racing an outlaw sport once again.