In my career at PRI, it has never ceased to amaze me how the sport of auto racing is intertwined throughout American lives. In my own life, some very fun moments have occurred far away from a race track. It might have been at a back-to-school night, sitting in the grandstands for a Little League game or at a wedding reception. I am talking to a stranger or new acquaintance when the subject of what I do for a living comes up. Next, I find the person I’m talking to runs a Winston West stock car (some time ago), or competes in Time Attack or spent years drag racing. Suddenly, we are speaking the same language. There’s a real enthusiasm in the conversation. And pretty soon, some fun stories are shared, and mutual acquaintances identified.
And you don’t have to go far for a good racing story. My father has a great story about driving from Ohio to Daytona Beach, and sneaking into the big race with his three buddies through a swamp. From my calculations, it was probably the late 1940s, and could have been NASCAR’s first race in 1948. One of his buddies went on to buy a jalopy to go racing, and my Dad would volunteer to crew for him. Most recently, my daughter began bringing home a fine young man, who eventually revealed that he and his father go autocrossing.
In all this talk of auto racing, the eyes light up a bit in the person doing the talking. The passion for the sport and its endless possibilities become clear. There’s a connection to something that is thrilling and fun and larger than the daily lives of most folks. It’s always great fun at industry events to hear racers share their stories. But, it’s also really cool to meet up with this great sport in such surprising ways far away from a race track. It happens a lot. Auto racing is definitely woven deep into the fabric of American culture and history. You can see what’s great about this country reflected in the sport. And we feel damn lucky to be making a living in it.
Strong Racing Industry Numbers In The UK: We just returned from the Autosport Engineering Show in Great Britain where the results of a study called the 2013 Review of UK Motorsport Valley Business Cluster was released. It showed that England’s motorsport and engineering services industry has nearly doubled since 2000, with 2012 revenue reported at £9 billion (roughly $15 billion). Some 4300 businesses employed 41,000 people. Commissioned by the Motorsport Industry Association and completed by Motorsport Research Associates, these figures serve as a strong reminder of how valuable auto racing is to a nation’s economy. The study can be downloaded for a fee at the MIA website—www.the-mia.com.