Saturday, November 18, 2017

Is our Sport Dying – Back to the Future (Final Chapter)

JDGREENWe can recover our sport, it is not dead, it has plenty of growth remaining, but how we get there may be as simple as returning to our past. As this series of blogs has indicated we are at a crossroads, the fork in the road can lead to doom and gloom (no place to race) or it can lead to excitement and growth. What we do know is it begins with us, but you know where else it begins, it begins in our history.

Since the creation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) the organization has worked its way into the leading racing organization. But let’s take a look at where it started. The original plan for NASCAR was three distinct divisions, Modified, Roadster, and Strictly Stock. Modifieds are today’s Whelen Modified Tour. Roadsters were abandoned because it was viewed as a Northeast or Midwest racing car. Strictly Stock was the class which raced with virtually no modifications from the factory. Eventually modifications for performance and safety were allowed. These modifications continue to this day thus the modern Gen-6 car.

Let’s go back a moment to the original intent of the “Strictly Stock” class. Their first race saw the disqualification of the driver taking the checkered flag, because he had altered the rear springs. What if we returned to a strictly stock class? Could it be done? Should it be done? What would it bring to racing? How about fewer classes but more factory rules? How about a return to the salvage yard for cars and parts?

Currently there are no beginner classes at any of the race tracks. The closest would probably be the Dirt Demons at Valley Speedway. Hobby Stocks is a more tightened version of the Stock Car, the Stock Car is more open version of the 80s Monte Carlo. Grand Nationals are limited late models. A Modifeds are a late model with open front tires and skinny tires at that. B modifieds are the old IMCA modifieds. Sprint cars classed themselves into a touring series and then divided the rest of the class with different engine packages.

Everyone is looking for the next IMCA modified class. Do you remember when the modified began, they had Gremlin, Pinto, Vega bodies. A personality of the cars we drove on the street. Racecars without fenders. Now look at them, parts from China, specialty parts, want to be Late Models. Our racing classes are so diverse, can we ever bring it back?

We are also battling the diversity of the generations. Think for a moment about your telephone? There are some that still do not have a cell phone. There are even more that have a cell phone but that is all it is a phone (my Dad and Mike Johnson). Then there are the phone owners who use it for a phone or text messages. If that is not enough then we have the smart phone folks – listen to music, look up information via a search site, sometimes use it as a phone, watch the weather, download a few apps, twitter, pinterest, social media, and on and on.

Media – the new generation is a now generation, information in the palm of their hand. We have to bridge the media gap, make apps available from local racing which will work on their smart phones. Make games available instantly which will work on their smart phones. Make results available which instantly work on their smart phones. Bridge this gap and you might become a multi millionaire.

Maybe we need to put cameras on cars in the local racing scene and make it available live via an app. Let them see their favorite driver working the wheel, making the pass, having the mud and dirt fly by. Let them see their favorite driver earn a win and the celebration that goes on within the racecar before climbing out to receive the trophy. The now generation wants it now, we need to conquer this for them.

The now generation also needs to get behind the wheel and share the feeling, the stories, the love with their race fans. Again we have come so far with media video and media audio we need to embrace this technology. It is there, what better way to share with your friends the excitement of racing than tell them to visit this website, this media, and watch it as it happens. Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski introduced us to this world last year at the Daytona 500, he also got fined for it later in the year, but this is the new generation, the now generation. We need to bring this home to the local racing community. Bring children to the track and let’s find out what they want and need to make racing the great experience we have come to know and love.

Finally in closing, let’s work on getting back to simple some how. Remember the Modified, Roadster, and Strictly Street Series. Let’s get the touring series to work together (easier said than done). Imagine a Roadster class the begins at the Chili Bowl leads to drivers competing in equal ruled Sprint Cars and then the best Sprint Car drivers could move on to Indianapolis or Cup. The same with the Strictly Street, begin with a set of rules that utilizes what the auto manufacturers have to offer (fuel injection, computers, etc.), put in the safety items and go racing, then drivers could move from that class to a modified class from the modified class to a late model class and from the late model to Indianapolis or Cup. Sounds so simple doesn’t it?

It is not that far fetched. It will take someone dynamic to make this happen, but it could happen. Remember Bill France started small and grew the NASCAR empire to what it is today. That person will have to be a leader, not afraid of no for an answer, not afraid to stick to the rules, and not afraid to embrace modern technology. So let’s keep our sport growing by accepting technology and embracing what worked in history to carry us to the future.

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