How to Get Kids Interested in the Drags...
Why Not Ask Them?
By Tom Morris
Well here it comes. There has been a lot of talk and ideas on how to keep the sport alive, bring in young faces and dollars, and fill the stands with the next generation of folks, most of whom know nothing about the sport or its roots. There have been some great ideas and theories as to why our beloved sport seems to be wallowing before going belly up. I know a lot of us are mostly interested in the nostalgia end of it or "the way it really was back then." Well alas we can't have it the old way.
But back to the young folks. Has anyone filled an auditorium with kids and spent a day talking to them, showing them videos, and asking them what they would like to see in drag racing? Might get some interesting answers. Ask the young men and women both: "If you were going to show up at a drag race what would you like to see?" What type of cars? Explain the classes and -- oh jeez, I can't believe I am saying this -- explain bracket racing, too. Direct questions to not just the guys but the girls, too. And don't just hit the high dollar area schools. Even the country kids have minds and ideas, and yes, inner city kids would love a chance at the sport.
And I don't just mean an hour visit by some top fuel team. Maybe a bimonthly weekend seminar open only to high school kids and junior high school kids. Mom and dad would have to look through the fence. Maybe do it on an off weekend near a race where you can get a cross-section of racers and cars and give the kids something to view and get interested in. I know that at that age I was more interested in the cars I could recognize by name brand as well as the diggers and roadsters.
We have a saying in the fight for the right to choose to wear a helmet. It is called Educate before you Legislate. Might fall true here before we regulate ourselves into oblivion with so many classes and rules and sanctioning bodies. Maybe we need to get these kids interested in what's going on. Might be they could surprise the hell out of all of us. With what they know and are learning with computers. Might be a modern Keith Black just waiting to have his eyes opened. Might even be a youngster with visions like Kent Fuller who needs to be opened up to the world. Ya don't know... and an hour a month is not gonna whet that appetite. They need to be shown more.
And the more you open them up to it, the more they will desire it. Give them a history lesson in videos and stills. While they are absorbing all of that, have a couple early cars and then maybe some mid '70s and on up to modern stuff. Show them a cross-section of many the classes, all the time explaining that if you start with your stocker and then you can progress to bigger and more fun things. Explain to them safety aspects and reasons for things being done.
Well anyway, ya got more than 2 cents worth.
"Painter Tom" Morris