Thursday, May 23, 2013

Replacing Something With Nothing

I wrote a post that I haven't posted yet, but I want to mention this part of it.  I think it's relevant.  It was 1996, and Joe A. (you know who) had the racing TV show.  By then, the show centered mainly on Dirt Modified Main Events at Antioch and Watsonville.  If we were lucky, we got a moment of Street Stocks.  Pure Stock fans were out of luck.  The show was better when Bruce came back from Bakersfield and covered more tracks and divisions, but anyway.

I talked to Joe before a race and made a humble suggestion.  I knew he always filmed a brief 30 second or one minute segment before a race, telling people what was on the show.  Sometimes in the form of an interview.  I suggested he do this in front of Tom Flanary's car.  Tom was the Pure Stock point leader.  Just say, "This is Joe and I'm standing in front of Antioch Pure Stock point leader Tom Flanary's car.  Tonight, we're at Antioch and we'll be bringing you whatever..."

Well, he said no, the car was too ugly.  There are a lot of things I can say about Joe.  I was never a fan.  I don't believe he was in it for the sport.  It's just my opinion.  I didn't like his style and the way he carried himself, but I guess I can say I respected him for being able to get things done.  He was a go getter.  If it was something he wanted, he could make it happen.

I bring this up, because this was a case of replacing something with nothing.  Pure Stocks could have been acknowledged at least, but nothing was better.  I've seen it before.  People tear other people down.  Bash then for their efforts, but when that person leaves, what replaces them?  Nothing.  So, the critics won.  The effort that tried to make a difference that was hated so much is gone.  Now there's nothing to complain about.  Way to go.

People can say the same about me.  I was a critic.  At least when given a chance I tried to make a difference.  My sister was told how bad my announcing was by a certain back stabber back in 2000 at Antioch.  Fine, I spent time getting sponsors so they could be announced twice a night, mentioned when a driver needed sponsors (and it helped them sometimes), told fans a little something about that driver, nicknames, career highlights or recent success, where the car came from, what the point standings were and on and on.  You're right.  I really sucked.  Worst announcer ever.  Thank goodness I'm gone and fans don't have to hear that crap anymore.

It was nice to hear a few years later that John actually did miss me being out there.  You're welcome John.  Thank you for giving me the chance.  You put a lot on my plate, gave me a lot of opportunities there, and I did my best.  Eventually, the people who really work hard, and I wasn't the only one there, move on and are replaced.  Going above and beyond isn't in some people's vocabulary.  People can hate John all they want, but who can do better?  Who will do better?  Who will want to when they start hearing some of the crap he's heard?

I recall the guy who had the guts to form a Sprint 100's club.  This was one of the divisions that ran at Baylands in 1988 and was to be a part of Petaluma in 1989.  A guy named Stephen Veltman wouldn't hear of it.  They were gonna get dates at several tracks.  Seemed like a crazy idea, but he did it.  The man brought sponsorship to the group.  I remember the Cornnuts sponsorship.  One of the biggest surprises in my time covering the sport was the SORA Sprint 100's group.  Much better than I thought it would be.

Veltman's leadership made a difference.  It mattered.  Of course, he heard all the things he was doing wrong.  He never made it about himself though.  How many races did he win with them anyway?  But that club was at its best when he was in charge.  Then, he moved on.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  I don't want to put down the people who ran it after him, but just make a point.  And, what is my point?

I'm a little disappointed in the NorCal Hardtop effort right now.  I love the division, and the car count.  I'm just a little confused where the leadership is right now.  Now would have been the time to step up and take this thing to the next phase, but it's just sort of out there.  Sometimes we don't even hear who is winning.  Who showed up or any of that. 

You had BCRA trying to take a piece of it.  Well, the new leadership certainly didn't say much, and BCRA got real quiet as well.  It's just sort of out there.  With probably a couple dozen cars in this group now, this isn't the time to be silent.  This is the time to establish things a little more.  We don't even have news on who won the latest race at Petaluma.  Nothing.

I'm not even out at the track, and I've heard things about the "evil" Conrad Cavallero.  Yeah, he's a real bastard alright, taking the car to car shows, promoting the NorCal effort from the start.  He and Mike McClure and their replica cars of Leroy Geving and Johnny Franklin set the stage early on for what this was all about.  Honoring the past and building a new generation of fans.  The only thing missing was a Hall Of Fame deal like what the West Capital Alumni has done.

But, they had to get rid of Conrad.  From very early on, his family was in the stands making videos so we could at least know something.  There were occasional write ups on the site too.  I don't know what his background is as far as organizing something like this, but he's been racing forever.  He and his brother Carmen were two of the first with cars.  He's still out there racing, but understandably, he's not going above and beyond.  Isn't that the new leadership's job?

How hard is it to post a top three at least, a couple photos, a video, how many cars?  Something.  If they rest on their laurels, this thing will fall apart fast.  You wanted Conrad out of the picture.  Fine.  Now, be the leader and do it right.  I don't say this to bash these guys.  I love the Hardtops.  I never saw them growing up.  My division was the Sportsman class like they have at Merced.  In fact, I'd love a combined show between the two.  Yeah, how dare I!  Anyway...

It's interesting to see the dynamic in this class.  A few guys are real fast.  Guys like Terry DeCarlo, Tommy Thomson, Mike Friesen, Dan Williams and Conrad Cavallero.  What do you expect given their experience?  Others are not so fast.  I would hope people aren't going overboard to win this deal.  Safety and appearance are important, but you don't have to be the king of the hardtops.  Alternatively, there are a few guys that might want to put just a tick more into it when they are getting lapped four laps into a race.

I have a thought that managed to upset guys in the NCMA when I was there, and Don O'Keefe Jr. and I did this with Spec Sprints.  If you are getting heat races, why not make some heat races for just those slower guys.  Let them battle it out amongst themselves and get a win once in a while.  Sort of an encouragement and a thank you for being part of this revival.  I must admit I'm surprised it's taken off as well as it has, but it's doing pretty well.  I'd just like to see the leadership promote things a little better.

It's all about what you want to do.  If it can grow to 17 cars showing up to race, how many cars can they get?  Makes me wonder.  With some of the beautiful cars they put on the track, this thing can quickly become an attraction and a reason people want to come to the races.  Something the older generation can point to when they are watching with younger members of the family and say, "See, these are the cars I used to watch when I was younger."

So come on Hardtop leadership.  Promote yourselves a little better, spread the word and get the buzz going.  The Hardtops are a neat division, and I'm curious just how big you guys can make this thing.