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Friday, June 01, 2007

 

A for profit sanctioning body? I don't like this.

I found on Drag Racing Online that the NHRA has been bought out by an investment group. This bothers me a lot more than the recent news about Chrysler being bought out by an investment group - after all, auto makers are in the business to make money, and my gut feeling about the Chrysler buyout is that their new owners want to make money by making cars and not by parting Chrysler out like a totaled Mustang. But an investment group buying a sanctioning body seems just a bit weird.

A sanctioning body is often something by car guys for car guys. Many of these start as car clubs to give their members a place to race and show off, and to draw up rules to keep their events safe. Sometimes money may also come into the equation - NASCAR sort of got started when promoters realized they could fill a horse track with spectators to cheer for their favorite bootleggers - but normally it's about racing.

This seems like a bad idea on several levels. First, there's not much profit in things like Friday night grudge racing - the money is in the pro races. Will this new NHRA pass by the enthusiasts who show up with whatever beat up old G-body they could drag in, in favor of the John Forces of the world?

Second, buying the NHRA includes their dragstrips and the land under them. Are the HD Partners right now looking at Atlanta Dragway and envisioning rows of of cookie cutter vinyl sided, detached and subdivided, mass production homes?

There used to be a drag strip right in my home town of Covington, long ago enough that I don't remember it. Maybe my Dart does. The pavement is still there, but where there used to be fans watching Hemis pound the pavement, now lines of trailers watch commuters head home after a long day's work. I'd hate to see Atlanta Dragway suffer the same fate. Maybe I ought to get a couple pictures of my Dart - or better yet, actual old race cars - staged where the drag strip in Covington used to be, lining up with their drivers staring at an unseen Christmas tree. Too many dragstrips and other race tracks have disappeared, often without even the asphault left behind to mark where they once were. Often they've been victims of everything from rich developer investors to annoying neighbors who move in next to a race track and then decide they don't like to hear the roar of the engines after all. Should have thought before you moved.

And they wonder why too many kids have taken their nitrous-fed wars to the street.

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