I recently attended the MPMC conference in Los Angeles and talked with many companies that manufacture components used in the racing industry. Along with learning about all of the new and innovative stuff they are producing, we talked about the economy and how it might affect the racing industry. What we came away with was a feeling that unlike other hobbies that people undertake when they're doing well financially and have the discretionary money needed to play, racing is more of a lifestyle.
We came up with that revelation by recalling that most racers include family and extended family in their pursuit of success. The wife, kids, brothers, sisters, uncles, and even grandparents and close friends all have some role or intensely follow the progress of the team. Whereas someone who builds his own hot rod or rock climbs or skydives, the racer gathers around him and includes the people in his life who matter.
All of these people make the team a success no matter where the car runs in the pack. When times get tough and there's less work to do, the racer will spend more time in the shop working on the car because that's what he does. Economically, the team might stretch the dollar further by looking for bargains or putting off buying new parts for a while, but the race goes on, unlike with other hobbies.
Bikers stay home more weekends, fishermen sell the boat or let it sit in the driveway, and hunters miss hunting season when the money just isn't there. Racers find a way to race. This is evidenced by the many parts sellers I've talked to who say the early year buying is moving right along despite the weakening economy. That says a lot about the dedication racers have and the commitment not only to race, but to continue to keep their individual racing families together.
This isn't the first time I've written about the uniqueness of the racing family tradition, but it takes on a whole new meaning in these tough times we are experiencing. I really think that the whole of the country could learn a few things from racers and that is to continue to do the things you love to do. Life isn't all about cowering down in tough times and doing nothing, it's about flying in the face of adversity and doing what you do, despite the negatives.
This country will survive, it always has, and racing will survive not only because of the strong resolve of the participants, but because it's more than a hobby, it's truly a lifestyle that includes all of the qualities and strengths this country was founded upon; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (racing). I sometimes wished more people were like the racers I know.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: Bob.Bolles@sorc.com , or mail can be sent to
Circle Track, Tech Editor,
9036 Brittany Way,
Tampa, FL 33619.
I recently read your 'Dissertation about rules restrictions' in the Nov. '08 issue. I agree with you that some promoters disallowed any change to their technical rule sets, even if those changes are supposed to improve racing performances at no cost. But, I consider that they do it for the best of the sport of stock-car racing.
To answer to your two questions . . . 'Why do they restrict changes that don't cost the racer and actually might make racing better? Someone please tell me why a racer can't make changes to his car that only involve cutting, welding, and time?' My answer is simple enough. To do these kind of changes, you need to have the right tools, equipment, and the right competences.