I just got done watching the Gary Gardella Nyce1s interview as he prepares for the 2011 Fall Nationals at Englishtown Raceway Park. He got me thinking. He mentioned what the Sport Compact Drag Racing scene may be today if it had continued the path it was on during the 2002-2006 seasons. That was the height of the Sport Compact Drag Racing scene. Everyone wanted to be a part of it whether it was to have fun drag racing, to grow their businesses, or to try and make a quick buck. This goes throughout the entire Sport Compact industry from the drivers, to shops, to organizers and sponsors.
So what happened? Other than the impending financial collapse that rid a lot of people of all their “free” money there were quite a few falters within the industry from the organizers to the competitors. Ultimately I think the major issue was that everyone expected to make a million dollars overnight. A lot of Sponsorship dollars flooded the sport and Organizers took a mass marketing approach when the sport just wasn’t ready for it. There was lot of flinging shit against walls and hoping it stuck instead of really understanding what the market was able to bear, what the progression of the industry and sport should be and what it would really mean for all involved to slowly push the funds into the sport instead of dropping money from the sky all at once. NHRA is a lot to blame for this I still feel. When the NHRA decided to get heavily involved and up the ante with the sport it gave everyone credibility, a lot of it not deserved or earned. The newly found credibility gave some the ability to get their teams funded and offer a very poor return on investment for those sponsors. This 2-3 year span ruined it for a lot of other people as those manufacturers lost sight of what it meant to be a partner with a Sport Compact Drag Racing Team as nothing was coming back to them from it. And after all of this went down and the NHRA realized it was a poor investment and they abandoned Sport Compact Drag Racing.
You can blame the economy all you want and I will agree it did aide in the demise of the growth of the sport but poor management, blind spending, and a greedy attitude really put the dampers on the future. This sport is not dead by any means, it has simply naturally restructured itself to where it should be for this current time with a thriving grassroots racing segment. Basically we are starting over from square one in many aspects. The natural progression of racers will go from their daily driven street cars, to budget friendly trailer cars, to all out custom fabricated, purpose built ¼ mile terrors. Hopefully as the sport continues to grow we can look back on what halted the progression of it in the early part of this decade and not let it happen again.