The Unsung Heroes
It was very nice to hear from a lot of you last week on their memorable Indy experiences. I am glad a lot of people could relate to our guests last week. This week, our guest has over 40 years of experience in the aftermarket automotive industry. Currently at Race Winning Brands, he has previously been with Hedman Performance Group, B&M/McLeod Industries, WELD Wheels as well as on SEMA Industry Councils. We are happy to present Vic Wood this week.
A few weeks ago, I watched as Doug Gordon wrecked his Alcohol Funny Car in a serious crash that could have been way worse. Doug was able to walk away unscathed due to the safety equipment mandated and the design and construction that went into his car.
This is not about that particular crash or why it happened, but about an observation I made as Doug went about shaking hands with all of the safety officials who arrived on the scene to go about their roles for which they have trained and practiced so many times. It was heartwarming to see Doug doing that and it stood as a profound reminder to me as to how fortunate we are to have those folks in our sport.
Recently we had an event at Heartland Park, Topeka, Kansas and it was HOT! The fire/rescue team stood there in the heat all weekend in their full safety gear, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. I cannot imagine how uncomfortable that must have been! These men and women are at every event doing their thing without a lot of fanfare or appreciation. There is no doubt they love it and are highly committed to their respective roles, but the rewards they get are limited and I know the money is not what is driving them.
For 10 years I proudly wore an ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) shirt as the VP of Marketing for that organization. During those years it always amazed /disappointed me as to how officials are perceived within some sectors of the sport. I am equally sure it applies to NHRA or any other sanctioning body or track officials. When you put on one of those shirts you almost instantly become one of “those guys”, ridiculed and criticized for every issue (perceived or real) that the sport is dealing with, when in point of fact you are trying to serve the members to the best of your ability!
Of course, not all folks are like that, as Doug Gordon so well displayed in Brainerd. Many people always offered me some shade, a drink or a sandwich and I still enjoy their friendships to this day.
There are so many of these people within our sport that we take for granted. They do not seek recognition, they do not get to see their faces on the front pages of the various publications, web sites or TV shows. They are simply going about their respective roles doing what they enjoy, and the simple fact is, the events cannot proceed without them. I would encourage all competitors to consider this the next time you interact with an official, be it telling you your race car is not legal at the scales, or you need to move it to a different lane, you parked in the wrong area, you do not have the correct credentials etc. or, perhaps, like Doug, they are saving your butt because you crashed your car!
Our sport needs everyone of these people, from the obvious to the not so obvious. Let us give them all a thank you next time we encounter them. Like the great Dale Carnegie preached “we all love a little recognition now and again”. It is so easy to do and its free! -Vic Wood