A Dysfunctional Family
by Rick Johnson
Memphis Racing History

It is common for all sports to look at their fans as a family.

In 1979 the Pittsburg Pirate used the song “We Are Family” as their theme for the year as they won their fifth World Series Title.

Parents pass their love of their favorite sport down to their kids. But somehow motorsports takes that concept a little farther than most sports. Maybe it is because those involved in motorsports are more readily available to their fans than competitors of other sports. The fans see them more as regular people than untouchable icons up on a pedestal.

Yes, we are family, but at times we are a dysfunctional family in many ways. We deliberately separate ourselves into little groups supporting a certain type of motorsports. Then we go onto social media and denounce other forms as inferior. You do not see that in other sports. Sure you have NL baseball fans who do not care for the AL style of game and vice versa. But you never see the sheer negativity you see in motorsports.

While you see bitter hatred between fans of opposing teams such as Yankees/BoSox or Cubs/Cardinals or Packers/Bears. But you never see the hatred for other forms of the sport. College football fans do not go out bashing the NFL, nor College basketball fans bashing the NBA. If anything the different types of these other sports work closely together and their fans intermix.

Of course, things are a little different in motorsports. We not only have different types of motorsports we have so many different levels of motorsports. Each type has its own feeder system. Every college football players dream is to make it to the NFL, or every college basketball player dreams of making it to the NBA. All fans of that particular sport know the ultimate goal of the players in their particular sport. No so in motorsports.

For some the dream is to make it to Daytona, while others dream of running the Imdy 500, others want to make it to the US Nationals, still others see the Knoxville Nationals, the Short Track Nationals or the Chili Bowl as their goal and still others dreamly nightly of running the 24 Hours of Daytona or Lemans. Our ultimate goal in the sport may be very different. But we often start at the same spot.

Most start out in the same manner maybe karts at the local commercial recreational facility. Or if your lucky your own personal kart. Then we move apart to our own particular form of motorsports. Our early influences often help us decide the form of motorsports we follow. If there is a racer in your community you may navigate to his form of motorsports.

This is where our family starts to become dysfunctional. For some reason, many develop a desire to follow our favorite form and then develop a dislike for all types of motorsports. Then as another form becomes more popular the dislike we have become more openly prevalent. Especially with the advent of social media.

Take the time to visit the social media pages of other forms of motorsports and you will see words such as NASCRAP, or taxi cab racing. Or even my granny can drive in a straight line. Doesn’t even have to be in different types of racing, just different groups within that form. Such as during the so-called “open wheel war” when the social media groups went out of their way to bash the other groups. Using terms such as Chump Car.

All we do when we take part in these type of activities is marginalize ourselves to those outside looking in. Sponsors see our dysfunctional behavior and question if they should be involved with such negativity. We are all guilty of this behavior yours truly included. We have philosophical disagreements and we let them split us into tiny groups. But by doing so we do nothing but drag our sport down and to be honest we are in an era where it has damaged our sports to the point which our sport may never fully recover.

We can still love our own form of motorsports, and we can debate the quality of our form of the sport compared to the other forms. But we need to do so in a positive manner and quit the negativity, especially online where potential sponsors can see it. We have a very expensive hobby and we need to keep the sponsorship dollars coming in to keep our sport healthy. To do so we must clean up our act and work on correcting the issues we have in our dysfunctional family.

We must come together as a whole family for the love of the sport and not our little cliques. If our sport is going to rebound to anywhere near its glory days we must take action to correct the mistakes of our past. We may never see peek TV and attendance numbers as we have in the past. But we can do better. No, we MUST do better.

Do it for your track,

Do it for your sport,


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