IPGParts.com Tuesday Ten: Javier Ortega. With one of the biggest Sport Compact Drag Racing events of the year this upcoming weekend at Englishtown Raceway Park in New Jersey who better to get some insight from than the man himself, Javier Ortega. Link ) #2 – One of arguably the largest sport compact events in the world is this upcoming weekend. What kind of preparation does it take for you to organize an event of this magnitude? What are some of the enjoyable things about organizing the event? The tedious things? “I work on these events year around so I feel that I am constantly preparing for them. For the Fall Nationals specifically the 1st stage is to promote the event, but to promote it I need all the items that I am going to highlight. In this case, The Airwerks by Borg Warner Turbo 2012 SFWD Class Shootout Presented by Vibrant Performance, Eat Sleep Race and Full-Race, the K-Tuned All Motor FWD Shootout and the PRO RWD Class. Everything starts with the concept, then the flier and then is full blown promotion mode. As the event gets closer I meet with the facility, about staffing, track prep, security, gates, police etc. The enjoyable part of the event is really watching it all come together in front of your eyes and seeing people excited, happy and enjoying the event. The tedious parts sometimes are when you set expectations from the staff and or facility and things don't come together the way you expected them to. But hey, there is no manual on what to do at all times in life and no matter how hard we work....there is always that one variable that no one has control over in the outdoor business so......this is not a business for the faint of heart.” #3 – You were an instrumental part of the NHRA Sport Compact Series working with them for many years. After all is said and done with how the ordeal went down do you think there was anything that could have been done to save the series? Do you think there is a chance of the series ever returning? “I think the series may have been a bit ahead of its time and at that specific time there were definitely way too many series sharing a the market. Once the economic down turn of the country started being felt and companies started trimming their sponsorship budgets it became tough for the series to continue doing business in the way that the series was designed to. Hence the business deal with NOPI which in time became a victim of the economic down turns also. As far as the series ever returning, that is a question for the NHRA. As for myself, I will say my dream has always been to have a national series running a select number of quality events around the country but unfortunately I never been lucky enough to land the funding necessary to do it. Hopefully one day I could fund my own national series.” #4 -- What irks you about the way Sport Compact Drag Racing is going at this point in time? What is the topic that drives you nuts to hear about / talk about? “What bothers me the most is the negativity and immaturity that continues to plague our sport. It seems to be contagious and to spread like a bad disease. The shame of it is that the individuals spreading it don't realize that they are dictating the outlook of our sport and community and their by just making us all look like unprofessional and immature individuals. The rules of society did not change with the insertion of the internet we still need to respect each other the same way. If you have an issue with a particular company or individual discuss it in a civilized manner in private until it becomes otherwise.” #5 -- How many events are you directly involved in putting on each year? What do you feel is the key to growing that number of events going into the future? Is growing the number of events an important part of growing Sport Compact Drag Racing in general? “My company produces over 20 events a year. I am not necessarily looking to increase that number; however my goal is to expand in to different markets providing I feel confident that I have the appropriate infrastructure to run quality events that meet my standards. In order to grow Sport Compact Drag Racing the focus needs to be placed on quality rather than quantity. We are just coming off of a recession and to me the sport continues to experience growth not only in the Northeast but around the country. What will continue to grow the sport are competitors having consistent rules and classes that continue to keep the sport somewhat "affordable”. It is great to see that although spread out all over the country the definition of a SFWD or All Motor cars appears to be somewhat unanimous all over. Yes everyone may not agree with all the rules but without rules we may only have 2 or 3 big guys playing in their own play ground and that, to me, is not fun.” #6 – Dealing with event organization day in and day out gives you insights that no one else can really imagine. What do you feel is the key ingredient for Sport Compact Drag Racing to bring in the huge amount of spectators that your events are known to attract? “In my opinion we are all capable of achieving the same goals. What separates us from one another is who is willing to work harder to achieve their goals. Most of the people who know me well (not many) tell me that I am too tough on myself and always set very high goals, but who ever got any where by setting low goals -- nobody!” #7 – Do you see any room in the current class structure for slightly slower spec class? For instance a mid 10 second to 11 second class that can be run heads up. But be quite strict on what parts can be used. Example: spec tire, spec turbo, spec engine size, etc whether it be a naturally aspirated or turbocharged class leaving some basics such as gearing and chassis setup open to the competitors? Would that idea attract more direct manufacturer support if they know every car in the class has to specifically run one of their products? “For the last three years we have been running a very successful class, the Xenocron 11.50 index. This year we added the Spec Clutch 10.50 Index. Both of these classes have experienced tremendous growth, have full fields at all our events, provide great side by side racing and serve as stepping stone for the heads up classes while providing a cost effective entry class to participants. We continuously look at how to improve our program with the support of these sponsors. We have managed to have a point’s series for these classes along with our other point’s series: The K-Tuned All Motor and The AirWerks by Borg Warner SFWD presented by Full Race.” #8 – Where do we go from here? Stay on the current course and let the series naturally grow itself again as it did in the past? Or is there a way to fast track the series growth again to bring the corporate sponsors and partnerships back to the sport? “I am of the mindset that you need a proper foundation in order to grow and that growth in order to be positive growth needs to be gradual. Having said that I love to see more companies who are greatly benefiting from the sport get more involve or vested in to it. And I do not mean by supporting me, but by supporting the racers, local events other promoters etc.” #9 – For that matter is it even important to bring back the corporate sponsors that were so prominent during the rapid rise of the NHRA Sport Compact Drag Racing Series? Or is the grassroots level competition and company support the sport is seeing now the way to go? “I feel good and confident about the way the sport continues to grow. From an organization point of view one must know how to deal with corporate sponsorship and everything that comes along with it. Grassroots competition is the foundation of our sport and will continue to help us build a stronger base. The company support we seeing now is greater than what we have seen in a couple of years and hopefully more companies will realize that our segment of the market never left and continues to experience growth even through the toughest times.” #10 – After all is said and done do you still feel just as passionate today about what you are doing as you did say 5-6 years ago? Do you still see yourself working in the same direction you are now for more years to come? “I am still as passionate for the sport as the day I opened my first Turbo Magazine. Sport Compact/Import Drag Racing has been my life since the late 80s and I will continue to be part of the community for as long as I love it!” _______________________________________________________________________ Thanks to Javier Ortega for taking the time to answer these questions. It is people like him that will continue to help the Sport Compact Racing industry and community grow.