Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is NHRA the Next NASCAR?

I spent the last two days working at the Lowes Motor Speedway booth at Speed Street, a downtown event attracting hundreds of thousands of race fans and locals. Even though Lowes Motor Speedway is the venue for the event, we had a small one table tent at the very outskirts of the Speed Street.

Lowes is opening a 125 acre zMax Drag race track and the first race is Sept 11 to 14. We had a 30 foot pro series drag racer outside our booth. I had the opportunity to spend time with the people who work at a drag racing team and met with two of the leading drag racers in the country, Hillary Will and Doug Herbert. Hillary is one of the top female racers and her moniker is "The Fastest Woman on Earth" as she has driven at 334 mph. (this was done in 4.5 seconds on a 1/4 mile track).
She spent her life around racing and has a passion for the sport. She is one of the few female racers so she is breaking barriers. Recently she just returned from a life changing trip visiting the troops in Afghanistan.

Doug Herbert is a seasoned veteran of the sport. It was his drag racer which we had at our booth. His booth was promoting B.R.A.K.E.S. with means "Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe". He had lost two of his sons (Jon, 17 and James, 12) to a car accident in early 2008 near their home in Cornelius, NC.

According to the MySpace page, "This horrible loss pushed the boys' father Doug Herbert and Jon's friends from their school to pull together and make a difference in the way teens think about driving. B.R.A.K.E.S.'s goal is to encourage young drivers to be more careful driving on the street, and that racing should be done on the race track, not the street."

So what I came away with from this first encounter with the sport are two drivers who are passionate, driven, focussed, down to earth, and who think about the fans and others.

I also found the NHRA web page to be a great way to learn about the sport. They have easy to read blog entries about the basics of the sport, your first visit to an event, and a glossary of terms.

I look forward to learning more.