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It did so primarily through the monopoly it enjoyed on television as well as through judicious use of National DRAGSTER, its own house organ. However, it also effectively employed the considerable resources of its publicity and PR departments as well as subtle intimidation tactics which targeted those in the trades who depend upon NHRA accreditation for their livelihoods.
Then came The Internet and a new world order.
Among the entities that have thrived in cyberspace is Agent 1320, a subversive operative of DragRacingOnline.com and an apparent source of legitimate concern at NHRA World Headquarters.
For the unenlightened, Agent 1320 is the guy who spins the tales and dishes the dirt that somehow doesn't make DRAGSTER's Bits from the Pits. Its inside info from a different perspective and it apparently has as many readers in Glendora, Calif., as anywhere else in the straight-line world.
According to sources within the NHRA (the High Sheriffs hate it when you say that), identifying Agent 1320 has become a cause celebre. If thats the case, its no wonder our sport is in big trouble. Agent 1320 isnt the issue. Hes just the messenger and the NHRA seems hell bent on shooting him down.
The root of the problem is that some NHRA officials equate criticism with condemnation. These are individuals who sincerely believe that the media should not cover any negative aspect of the sport. If its not according to NHRA, its just not anything.
I know they believe this because, well, because they say so. For instance, I had an NHRA official stop me in a walkway behind a racing operations tower this season and tell me he had been reading my stuff on the worldwide web. Before I could respond, he asked Dont you make a living in this sport?
Amazed, I said nothing. The implication, however, was very clear: if you cant say anything good, get out! What I should have said was, Yes I do make a living in drag racing, but I dont have to. Indeed, Ive had jobs in the private sector but I am cursed with a love for drag racing. Fact is, if I didnt love it I long ago would have bailed out and saved myself a lot of grief.
Im telling you right now that, for the most part, those who criticize NHRA do so without malice.
Reality is that often there are more points of view than just the ones developed in Glendora. Just because NHRA says its so doesnt necessarily mean its so. It just means they believe its so. Often, a healthy discussion which examines opposing views produces a mutually beneficial resolution.
Another reality is that everyone in the NHRA doesnt blindly adhere to the corporate line. These are people who often leak the information that so infuriates the Sheriffs. Why do they do so? Because, like Agent 1320, theyre interested in improving the sport and dont believe that every action taken corporately by NHRA is so directed.
Who is Agent 1320, seriously? Who really cares? I can tell you that he isnt just one person. It shouldnt be that hard to figure out, though.
Just take a look at the cast of characters who regularly contribute to this enterprise. Burk. Martin. Raffa. Dave Wallace. Talk about your NHRA Most Wanted List. DragRacingOnline.com apparently is a magnet for free-spirited drag racing reprobates.
Fortunately, Im here to provide some balance.
The truth is, everyone at DragRacingOnline.com is first a drag racing fan and, second, a journalist. Because we might look beyond the obvious and ask pertinent questions doesnt make us anti-NHRA or anti-IHRA or anti-drag racing. It simply makes us pro-active.
Dave Densmore, a paid columnist for DRO, also works for John Force.
Photo by Jeff Burk
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