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Import Racing Cars - The Geek

We Ain't Dead Yet

Mike Kojima
Feb 19, 2009
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Lately, all the news that we've been hearing hasn't been good. Yesterday, the Mike Retirement Fund took quite a beating on Wall Street while our governmental "leaders" did the seagull routine (flap around while making a lot of squawking noises and then sh*t all over the place). It looks like Mike will have to work for quite a while now and project GT-R will have to wait ... a long time.

On the surface, our industry isn't looking so hot either. The much-touted savior of the import scene, drifting, seems to be on the decline. No more D1, and Nopi Drift bit the bullet. The recent Formula D events I attended seem to lack the numbers, enthusiasm, and energy of just a couple of years ago and the promised TV coverage doesn't seem to be there.

Drag racing seems even deader. No more NDRA because Nopi pulled the plug on all of its motorsport activities. The last few big drag events I went to had about zero spectators-even the NHRA finals. Doesn't it seem like just a few years ago that the IDRC nationals would sell out Pomona? No more TV coverage. About the only guys I know who are still active are the Bergenholtz brothers, and only the Choi's are devoted to running strictly import events anymore.

Even road racing, the industry's current "growth" segment, is hurting. NASA had to cancel one of their summer events right in the heart of racing season due to lack of entries. Expensive fuel means that towing costs a lot and everything from food to rooms for the crew costs a lot more.

Way back when we used to think that we were the wave of the future and smirk at all of the "old guys" racing muscle cars. Fast-forward 15 years and now we're the old guys and there are no new kids coming up. Nowadays there are so many things competing for our young one's attention that cars are not the in-thing any more. To build a cool car takes planning, commitment, and a long-term investment. That's just not today's culture.

The cops are getting down on performance enthusiasts more than ever as well. If the cops actually paid attention to the fatal "street racing" accidents, they would realize that most of the people who cause these sorts of accidents are often just kids racing their parents' pure stock vehicles, just joyriding out of control. If they are "modified" cars, they're of the shoddy "ricer" variety. You know the type: a primered aero kit that's falling off, front steely "speed wheels," tiny exhaust with huge tip, beat-ass hunks of excrement. In all the cases of street racing accidents that I've seen in the media, it's not the person with a fast, heavily modded vehicle, it's these sort of wannabes. Because of them, the cops get down on the rest of us, so much so that a lot of people are afraid to drive their tricked-out cars, me included. My daily driver is a bone-stock Infiniti G35 or a Honda Ruckus for this reason.

Is it gone? Should we just give it up and take up golf or tennis?

I don't think so. Think of it as a purge to get rid of the weakness. Since cars are not the hottest things ever anymore, the lamers, ricers, and posers will go elsewhere. These are the people who ultimately bring unwanted attention to our scene. The residue left over will be the true performance freak, the hardcore. The hardcore will continue to push the level of our sport higher. The hardcore will actually buy real parts from real companies and not settle for the fake crap that is contaminating our sport.

The tight economy and high-energy costs will also mean that modding small fuel-efficient vehicles will become more popular. Remember that the compact car performance craze was born due to the first two gas crunches that griped our country in the '70s. The meteoric rise in energy costs means that the manufacturers will once again look toward making small and light cars.

Are things depressing? No, it's quite the opposite. The future looks to be exciting.Hang tight!Mike

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By Mike Kojima
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