Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page


Missed Opportunities


recently attended a one-day outdoor car show here in Atlanta, presented by Year One, the classic car restoration parts distributor based just a little north of the city. Entrants included the usual street-going muscle cars, hot rods, custom trucks, and lowriders; there was a portable dyno on hand for those who wanted to confirm or be humbled by their car’s horsepower rating; a blocked off square of barriers awaited a late-afternoon burnout contest while a local band belted out long-forgotten pop hits, and a good time was had by all. To be honest, though, I was struck most by what wasn’t there—a significant drag racing presence—or more specifically, any ORSCA presence.

I mean, Year One serves as the title sponsor of the Outlaw Racing Street Car Association, so wouldn’t it have made sense to have had at least one ORSCA racecar on the grounds to promote the series’ season opener a few weeks later just a few miles up the road at Atlanta Dragway? Ideally, Jack Barfield’s beautifully prepped, Year One-backed ’69 Camaro would’ve been on hand, but barring its availability surely there was some Atlanta-area racer who could have and would have shown up to fly the ORSCA colors.

Ostensibly, ORSCA exists to promote exciting eighth-mile  racing in stock-appearing American iron, so why would it not participate in one of its primary sponsor’s high-profile events in front of what obviously was a muscle car-friendly crowd? Racers are always being told that special-event appearances are one of the best ways to give value back to their sponsor. That sentiment surely would extend to sanctioning bodies, too, wouldn’t it?

Now, I don’t think anyone at ORSCA, or Year One for that matter, deliberately chose not to cross promote at the car show; I suspect it simply was a matter of no one thinking of it—but man, talk about a missed opportunity.

I thought pretty much the same thing in February while attending the big, annual Monster Truck “race” at Atlanta’s cavernous Georgia Dome. More than 70,000(!) fans packed the dome that night to watch Gravedigger do battle with Maximum Destruction et al in a sold-out show promoted by the same corporate masters of the International Hot Rod Association. That time, IHRA did get a brief (very brief) mention in the announcer’s opening remarks, but again I thought of the missed opportunity at not showing any drag racing footage to the assembled masses on the huge video screens.

Say what you will about the average intelligence of Monster Truck fans (Hey, I are one!), but why not at least offer a taste of IHRA drag racing to a crowd that obviously loves to watch wild automotive action? I just don’t get why the powers that be at Live Nation choose not to cross promote their own products.

Of course I realize IHRA doesn’t have a national event local to the Atlanta area to promote, but tell me track owner/promoter Steve Earwood wouldn’t want to extend the invitation to visit Rockingham Dragway this spring—or fall, for that matter—to so many pre-qualified motorsports enthusiasts. And I happen to know at least some of those fans are willing to travel hundreds of miles if they like what they see because my neighbor has relatives who made the trek from middle Tennessee just to cheer on the Monster Mutt (go figure).

Unfortunately, it seems that drag racing—at any level—doesn’t make much of an effort beyond the same old, same old when it comes to getting the word out. It looks like that may be changing a little at the national level, thankfully, with “reality” shows discovering the straightline set, but overall, marketing efforts remain predictable and entirely sporadic.

I’ve written in this space before about how a person wouldn’t know a big event was going on within easy driving distance of Atlanta if he or she wasn’t already at least somewhat plugged into the sport. Far too often, I think drag racing promoters rely far too much on reaching only prior drag racing fans, through word-of-mouth both online and in person, as well as through drag racing-specific Web sites and publications. Other than a few radio commercials at Southern Nationals time, I never hear mention of another drag racing event on Atlanta’s airwaves. And forget about local TV.

That’s not the case with the circle track set, though. Just a couple of days ago I saw multiple showings of a television commercial for a local dirt track’s big spring fling and they weren’t being broadcast during a motorsports event. It was still a sports show, but the track obviously was reaching out to a wider audience.

I just feel that’s what drag racing needs to do more of, reaching out to those who haven’t already discovered its inherent drama, competition, and spectacle—even if it is only to fans of other motorsports. Why not cross promote with that dirt oval down the way; pass out their flyers at the gate and have them pass out yours? Maybe mount a joint TV/radio campaign that promotes both tracks as exciting local entertainment options? Purchase a downtown billboard for the summer, or if the local oval track operator is willing, purchase signage at his venue?

There are definitely opportunities out there, some more difficult to see or take than others, but drag racing promoters just can’t afford to continue missing the obvious ones.

Race safe,








P.S. Kudos to fellow Canucks Glen Kerunsky for winning the IHRA Pro Mod race at San Antonio, and Rob Atchison for finishing runner-up in Alcohol Funny Car. Go Canada! 


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