How we finally make it to the "big time"
Remember The AFL vs the NFL, or the NBA vs the ABA? Who remembers the AHRA and Larry Carrier? Remember when Indy cars only competed at Indy? Or when NASCAR was just called stock car racing?
In order for Drag Racing to "live long and prosper" we need consolidation. NHRA and IHRA need to combine their resources and spirits into a single entity for the good of the sport.
How many boxing associations are there and titles within each one?
For our sport to grow to true national acceptance there needs to be only one title, one organization, and clear and concise categories and rules.
The NHRA has the money and the majority of public air time. The IHRA has a grassroots following and the heart of the racer in mind (at least compared to NHRA).
These two organizations currently posess the talent and resources necessary to project drag racing into mainstream America. It hasn't happened because of money and ego's, but that must change if we are to become a bonafide institution.
Drag Racers need this institution status because over the next few decades, the internal combustion engine, and its associated industries will increasingly be aligned with polluting the earth, contributing to global warming, and being a threat to our long term well being.
Sad but true, when Ralph (unsafe at any speed)Nader almost looks like a viable candidate for President we are certainly living in uncertain times. The health of our sport depends on the automotive industry which is increasingly under fire from a political and environmental perspective.
NASCAR has a single solid base of support. The average citizen doesn't know the difference between a short track and a super speedway, but they do know if a car turns left its stock car racing, and stock car racing means NASCAR.
We need that same level of identification with our sport. Even more than NASCAR because drag racing was born on city streets by "bad boys" who you didn't want your daughter to date. We need public acceptance in the way Tom McEwen and Don Prudhomme put Hot Wheels into our children's toyboxes. It needs to be warm, fuzzy, politically correct, and exciting. We need one sanctioning body.
Let there be two series. Just like baseball with two leagues, or football, or any other major sport that has divisions, but there can be only one chanpionship chase. IHRA and NHRA can co-exist, but drag racing needs more than they can provide separately. We need the strength and solidarity of one major championship series where participants can earn qualifying points to compete. We need branding and name recognition.
My mother knows who Don Garlits is but she has never heard of John Force. The only reason she knows who Don Garlits is, or Don Prudhomme, is because they were champions. Today, we don't know who are champions are, even if they have achieved more victories, like John Force, than other competitors.
Combining the marketing power and advertising potential of IHRA and NHRA under one roof would be the first step toward achieving the goal of drag racing becoming the number one automotive sport in the world.
I ask everone involved with drag racing to promote this co-opetition concept to their track managers, division directors, fellow racers and spectators. Together we can make a difference and together we can succeed in making drag racing the safest, most accepted, form of automobile racing in the world.