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State of the Hobby

State of the Hobby


In short, hot rodding in the U.S. is in the toilet! I watch our hobby very closely for all the signs of health and disease, and right now we got cancer. Which I have come to know too well in years recent. For me, the treatments hold a lot of sicko days. Same would appear on the horizon for American hot rodding.

Unfortunately, as America goes with the hot rod sport, so goes the world.

Now, here is the problem in a nutshell. The American drag racing scene is over the hill. Yes, it still makes lots of noise. It still shakes the diaphragm. But it is now down to whittling toothpicks. We are getting a shorter race, which we wanted way back at the very beginning (when we thought an eighth-mile would better suit the facilities available to clubs nationwide.) Now, electronics are in the offing.

I often discussed this with Wally Parks. It is to the point of performances and safety concerns that it would be better if the driver simply left the dragster cockpit. He/she could sit in the pushtruck and use a joystick and accelerator pedal. You get all the same BS you get now but the driver is safe, and would not even need a firesuit! Just connect the joystick black box to the car controls, and go for it. Of course, too many spectators would stay home, because the truth is that many racing fans come to watch the blood and gore, not the driving talent.

So, we have a declining future for drag racing.

What about street rodding? Not so very gloomy yet, but it is approaching in direct proportion to the age of the street rodder. Think not? Take a good hard look at the hobby, and street rodding is a hobby, not a sport.

The costs involved continue to skyrocket. Yes, trick doo-dads are not necessary to the hobby, but they are a barometer. The more trick, the fewer players. The more trick, the higher the perceived and actual costs. The higher the costs, the older the players will be (it has to do with disposable income.) The higher the costs the fewer entry level players. In the end, less enthusiasm. I offer the Model T and Early Ford V8 hobbies as examples.

Take the rat rod movement as another example. The players were not trying to create unsafe toys. They were making a statement. “All you guys pouring huge dollars into one-up-manship rod building, how about backing off and putting the fun first, not the perceived glory!” Did anyone get the messages? Mostly, the entire hobby just stepped aside briefly and wondered at the weird-o’s who would dare challenge the sancticy of “How we usta make ‘em!”

No, we didn’t usta make em like that. And we didn’t even live that misapplied lifestyle. We made do with what we had available. We were hot rodders first and foremost, and tendsetters after all the dust had cleared. You know, in the last twenty years, I have never had a single person come up to me and ask “how we usta build hot rods. “ Or how we dressed, or what movies and music caught our fancy. I may not be a perfect person to ask these questions of, but by damn, I was there and I did that and it was very little like the ratters have misconstrued things. So, the entire spectrum of hot rodding is in the crapper, and it has to do (as always) with the dollar bill.