We seem to live in a world where the wrong type of people are rewarded on a regular basis. Instead of rewarding hard work and accomplishment, we reward people for having the most followers, likes, hashtags, etc. It no longer seems like results and performance are the contributing factor.
This isn't a problem in just drag racing, it's a societal issue. You see it everyday on social media, in the news, and everywhere else you go. Idiots getting recognition for being idiots, while the ones that should be getting the recognition are pushed to the side. Well what happens when that leaks into drag racing, or even motorsports as a whole? What happens is that you have world champions and world class drivers sitting at home trying to get a ride or funding, while someone else has a ride and money coming in based on popularity and not performance.
Now, you are going to tell me that the popularity is something that you have to bring to the table to get deals done. Trust me, I am fully aware of the idea that your reach as an individual or company has a lot to do with the ability to get parties to come on board with you. Long gone are the days of the quiet champion. The ones who doesn't use his/her mouth to speak, but lets the car's performance speak for it all. Gone are the days of a championship being the big thing that matters.
Championships don't sell parts and aren't marketable though right? Well if that were the case, then why at the beginning of every season are manufacturers taunting their victories and championships in print and online for all to see? The reason is that it does sell parts. People want to buy parts that win, not that make them seem cool. Too often we are apparently caught in the circle of popularity though. Well if that really popular driver runs that part it must be the best, even if they don't win.
We all know the objective of a sponsor is to get recognized, and for customers along with potential new customers to buy parts. Here's the catch though. If your endorser has a million followers, does that mean that he/she is better than one with twenty-five thousand followers? Math will tell you it does because 1M is greater than 25K, but what if I told you that of that 1M only a few thousand were potential new customers, yet the driver with a following of 25K has 15,000 potential new customers. Where is the money better spent? At that point, are you looking to sell product, or boost your ego and brand recognition?
It's the same when talking about popularity in driver ranks. Now there are exceptions to everything out there, but when I see names like Kevin "Flash" Fiscus, Von Smith, Travis Harvey, & Brandon Snider, who all have championships and wins in their career without the financial backing to field a car in the 2017 season, it's more than disappointing, it's downright disgusting! And let's take a look at these four. All four are for the most part soft spoken and not in your face characters. They take care of business on the track. They aren't part of the millionaires club either. So why is it that four amazing pro mod drivers are parked, while there are plenty out there with much less impressive resumes driving every weekend? It's because popularity overrules performance, plan and simple.
Until we as the true consumer public actually support companies that support skilled drivers and not just the popular one who can't get out of their own way, this will continue to be a trend. We will continue to see skill set aside for social media prowess. We as an industry are in the business of drag racing. Brute power and going in a straight line quicker than the person next to me. I don't ever recall someone winning a drag race based on the amount of Facebook followers or Instagram likes one has over the other. So let's actually start treating drag racing with the respect it deserves. Don't stand for drivers, the caliber of which I discussed earlier, to be sitting at home watching. We need these drivers at the track putting on a show.