Drag racing

Drag racing is a unique form of racing which hooks it’s racers to it like a drug addict is addicted to drugs. During the 1940s, in Southern California, drag racing had started to become a very popular thing to do. This was seen to be an increasing hobby post World War II. People did not come on streets to race for money or any other motive of such sort, rather to show off their mechanical skills and have a nice time. The races started off with between two cars over the same distance. The drivers used to spend hours and days and weeks working in their garages building cars to race. These races had no time limit, no experience limit and no cash prizes.  Even the winner was decided by ‘who ever touches the bump in the road wins’, proving that these races took place only for fun and passion of the drivers. These races, held in dry lake beds in Southern California, gathered a lot of people. People would show up with their girlfriends and families and enjoy the view of the race taking place. The drivers were so hooked only this activity and were so passionate about it that their need for speed would be seen to be only continuously increasing. Men were so attached to drag racing that just the smell of nitro and the smell of tires would be more than enough to charge them and make them energetic and excited for race. As thrilling as all of this sounds, drag racing, however, carried a very bad reputation at that time.

In 1951, The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), “dedicated to safety”, found by Wally Parks, began to properly organize drag racing. The drag racing organizers that existed in those times did not know how to properly organize these activities; they didn’t know how to insure their cars or the drivers, or anything about safety measures, even the use of helmets. Wally Parks’ vision to properly organize these races managed to attract a lot of investors and sponsors like Coke and Pepsi, aiding in people to build more and better cars for racing, considering not many people had the amount or resources to put their dreams in action. Wally Parks’ vision made this illegal activity a legal one. It got people off the streets from racing in an unsafe manner to people racing in properly organized races in a safe manner. Not only was this vision limited to California, but had expanded into the entire country.  By 1952, there were 6 drag race strips in Southern California and 9 in the rest of the country and by 1955; the number grew to 68 drag strips in 31 states. With passing years, this not-anymore illegal activity was turned into a living for youngsters. It became a professional job for them. However, the job was not all that easy. Drivers would sometimes have to do 3 different cities in 3 nights, completely exhausting them. Also, the money they made was not always enough for them to afford night stays in hotels. People who knew them or had heard of them would help them in whatever way they could like changing oil or tires for them. With the increasing fondness and liking for drag racing, people such as Jim Nelson, Dode Martin and Kent fuller, drag racing pioneers, and Keith Black and Ed Pink, engine builders, managed to turn their passion into full time professional work.

Every single racer who raced in the early era state with confidence and prides that they drag raced in the times when it was 10 times more fun than what it is now. Although illegal, the races used to be pure fun and amusing and entertained every single person present in at the scene. They were not driven by money or fame or anything of such sort, which people now are. In today’s date, there are only a few in number who drag race for pleasure, while others do it to earn money or fame or simply because they can’t find a job elsewhere. They don’t drag race out of choice, but because they have no other choice. The true essence of drag racing seems to have been lost nowadays, with very low chances of returning because of the busy lives and schedules people have these days and also because people now refuse to risk their lives in the name of ‘fun’.

References

“Drag Racing”, America on the Move. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, n.d. Web.

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