Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Year

New Years always brings some renewed hope.  Also a refreshed outlook is given to ideas and there’s a feeling of a clean slate – like starting a baseball season – everyone’s undefeated.  The same can be said for the upcoming racing and in particular, the Nostalgia drag racing year.  Although concerns like any other medium about whether the economy will finally start to rebound, have most minds muddled, there are some signs that we might be shifting into another gear.  Again, hope springs eternal.

In one respect, we are very lucky, as our sport is one of the only marketing entities of its kind that actually is still growing as we pack race meets with wall-to-wall fans.  Even during the worst of the Recession, people were flooding the tracks.  Yes, we had a little dip when the gas prices soared a couple years ago, but even so, the stands were still packed.  Loyalty is something the branding world talks about but our motorsports proves it towers over others, year-after-year.  The current state of Nostalgia drag racing dominates all business aspects.

The rules will again change and safety is the primary reasons although it could be argued that what fits one class in NHRA Pro Series’, shouldn’t be applied across the board to others (i.e. mandatory four-wheel carbon-fiber brakes).  If you ask me, the rules should have to do with keeping cost down along with speed.  The new brakes rule does neither.

But I’m not here to complain.  I want to simply say the season starts in March (The March Meet) when Spring arrives and here’s hoping this new beginning will bring a more prosperous and more fulfilling new year for everyone in our family of motorsports.  Have a happy and prosperous New Year in 2011.

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An anniversary of a birthday was yesterday and it got me thinking – yea, I know, dangerous but it’s the off-season for racing so …

One thing you learn as the years go by – you really never quit learning.  If you’re ever around older people for a length of time, you learn that experience and time equates to wisdom and knowledge.  Think you know it all?  Ha!  Many people come and go in your life and hopefully you’ll receive bits and pieces that you can take with you on your life’s journey.

My father has been in a wide variety of businesses, work and hobbies and I’ve learned a lot from him along the way.  He himself, especially early on, learned quite a bit from his older brother Vernon Hier, my uncle.  Vern, as he was called, would have been 84, yesterday.  He had an incredible life for someone who if you met him, was a fairly stoic, calm and easy-going person.  He was studious and early on, had already acquired the nak that many people had back in the early decades of the 20 century, the ability to do just about anything.  Like his father, my grandfather, who was gifted mechanically, these traits would come in handy for much of his working career.

He was drafted near the end of WWII and entered the 82nd Airborne (The All-Americans).  He was packed and ready to be one of the first people to land on mainland Japan in what was fast becoming a meat-grinder – but the two atomic bombs were dropped to end the war.

He was a mechanic for many years working on big rigs and I do mean big rigs.  He became a master mechanic, working on the biggest rigs in the world.  Then his wife Beryl, who was an angel, acquired cancer and they fought it for a few years but eventually my aunt succumbed.  It was a big blow to the family and hit Vern hard.  Obviously his Christian faith helped him through it.

Later in his career he was moving a tractor when, not of his own fault, a power line fell on the rig, electrocuting him and most-assuredly should have killed him.  It blew him up to the point where he spent many months in the burn wards and rehabilitation centers to learn to walk and become a “normal” person.

Somewhat retired at this point, he concentrated more on his gardening and would actually become a master gardener – yea, I didn’t know they had them either.  He also took up square-dancing.  Yes, square-dancing, even though the accident had blown out the cheeks of his ass and destroyed his elbow.

A few years later, while traveling the Sepulveda Pass, to one of his square dances he loved to do, he was rear-ended and the car blew up in a fiery crash.  He was burned significantly but somehow didn’t die although once again, he spent many painful weeks trying to get back to normal – whatever that meant at this stage.  He did recover to the point he could drive with aids.  He moved to Kingman Az. (I would have moved too as L.A. wasn’t getting it done), where along with gardening, took up graphic design using a computer.  Yes, the paratrooper and master mechanic was also a great gardener and graphic designer – Who da thunk.  He was passionate about these endeavors and did them the best he could and that passion was evidenced in the results.

During these later years, combined with the accidents and all those paratrooper jumps with Airborne, Vern developed Parkinson’s Disease, but he kept on until finally the body gave out – he died a little over a year ago.

I learned a lot, not so much from my uncle directly, but more from the way he lived his life: Believe in God, work hard at what you do with passion and do what you like, no matter the stereotype.  I will say, Vern was much more out-going and talkative in his latter years – With death around you at every turn, you can understand.

Moral of the story?  Work with passion about something you like and live a full life.  No excuses.  Have faith.  I’ve learned to watch and listen and remember, somebody else may be paying attention and watching you – just as I was watching my uncle.  You can never stop learning and gaining invaluable wisdom.

OK, where is that race season?  Pretty soon I’ll be writing about …

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State of Nostalgia Drag Racing

The state of drag racing is always in flux.  As one of the most popular of sports and an unmatched loyalty, this explosive sport doesn’t know if it wants to be big time or not.  There’s small associations trying to grow and the bigger associations trying to dominate and squash them.  Now most would say; if you concentrated on your own needs, you wouldn’t have to worry about others.  Such it is with the business world as well as racing.  Do you strive to do better and/or try to beat your competitors?

Nostalgia drag racing can best be described as an anomaly.  Nostalgia drag racing was started first by a fledgling ANRA and Frank Fedak.  Frank’s wants were never to worry about money or fans – just create a place for guys to race with cars designed to look like they did in the 60’s.  “Drag racing the way it used to be” was the slogan and on the surface, it was a very idealistic thought but quickly learned that to exist with any business, you need money and money comes from fans (& sponsors).  Frank didn’t last long as it has been passed on from owner to owner with the same intentions of being a place for the common racer but as with anything, if you’re not moving forward, you will struggle to survive and such is life with ANRA in the little leagues of motorsports (which is now just an indexed racing series with mostly door-slammers).

Goodguys came along a few years later and with their excellent organizational skills – being that they put on one of the best car shows in the country – the racing series took off.  Problem was, they weren’t really looking for a lot of drag racing as much as something to add to their picnic-in-the-park car shows.  The extra workload Wondering in the desert was not in the cards for Goodguys and they abruptly stopped.  Like the Israelite’s wondering in the desert for 40 years, Nostalgia drag racing was left with nowhere to go except a few races like the Bowsers putting on the March Meet and the NHRA continuing the California Hot Rod Reunion.  So not much happened until the following year when the NHRA started the Hot Rod Heritage Series and voila!  We had the largest racing organization in the world, helping to run what is now, one of the only sports that’s still growing!

The massive NHRA doesn’t seem too intent on growing the series, so we wallow in this purgatory, waiting for someone or something to grab the sport by the scruff and take it to new heights.  BTW, Goodguys did come back and now runs a few meets in the Midwest.

Offering the consumer a better bang for your buck and a great place for drag racers to race, these Nostalgia drag racing events give you everything you want – drag racing, car show and swap meet, plus a huge retail area with almost everything you can imagine.  These race events are record breaking, everytime another occurs.

Hurricane waiting to hit landSo the state of Nostalgia drag racing is as I stated: an anomaly – Wandering at sea, waiting to hit land like a hurricane. It’s a powder-keg of popularity, but no one to light the fuse.  I can’t believe the March Meet will be as big as the last one but every year, they continue to top themselves.  Business has missed out for the most part but I believe that’s going to change.  One of these years very soon, this most Americana of sports will boom.  Will it be 2011?

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