BOBBY BENNETT: SAGE ADVICE FROM AN OLDER ME
Dear Younger Me,
I see you sitting in the back seat of a massive Pontiac, on your way to see your first national event, the 1981 Spring Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. You are anxious, have stars in your eyes and with good reason. It's the first time you'll ever see the stars you've read about for two years in those major magazines. You'll see the colors; hear the beautiful sounds of drag racing at the highest level and for the first time in your life, inhale nitromethane.
You don't see me, but I see everything in you which I've longed to re-experience for a long time. I still love the sport. Still have a burning passion. It's just a different passion; I guess it's an age thing.
I won't spoil the fun for you today by revealing the winners. But, I do have some sage advice for you if you decided to listen to me. Remember I fell in love with the sport through your eyes.
Stop me if you've heard this cliché from every older adult (the 40-somethings) who has attempted to provide advice along the way. Life is a journey, not a destination.
As you grow in this sport, understand there's nothing wrong with seeing drag racing through rose-colored glasses. You'll need those glasses to help you make it through those times when the political aspect of the job rears its ugly head.
There will be a day when those legends you see at the race in your days will have to step away from drag racing due to lack of sponsorship. Those racers could race without huge sponsorship when you were younger, but as you grow older these racers will price themselves out of the sport in pursuit of stepping up to the next level.
Understand; don't be in such a hurry to get so big so fast. One or two bad breaks, and we could all be on the same sidelines.
Once you reach the highest levels, you can't go back. Pride changes us all. Once you've raced Top Fuel, you can't imagine going back to race Stock Eliminator. Now you see racing as racing, but later in life it has to be top of the line or bust. The passion will wane because the fight to get to the next level was so demanding; there will be so little left in the tank.
Racing Stock Eliminator in 2019, on some levels, will be as expensive as it was to compete in fuel back in 1981.
Hey Kid, remember those clippings from the mainstream media about drag racing you collected over your first couple of years in drag racing? There will come a day and age when you will have drag racing at the click of a mouse (a new technology which will put you on the super highway of knowledge) or the flip of the television remote control, another excellent piece of technology you'll become acquainted with.
No longer will you have to wait for your National DRAGSTER to tell you who won the latest race. You can actually watch the race live instead of looking in that section of the NHRA paper to see when the race will be shown in syndication.
Don't ever lose sight of how lucky you are.
You will get to live in multiple instances of drag racing's golden era. News will be available on demand; your access to drag racing will be unlimited.
There will be a time you will get an idea to take your journalistic skills to this uncharted territory - build a magazine without using one piece of paper. When the mountain seems overwhelming, let your passion never wane when it comes to helping to pioneer a new chapter in drag race reporting history.
The journey can be cruel, and at times, unforgiving.
Understand there's a day when you will no longer be a kid amongst veterans. You will be the veteran amongst the kids. There will be ever-changing technology, so make yourself fluid with the changing times. If not, you will be one of those veterans who have let technology pass them by.
Dear Younger Me, understand you have a life ahead of you that will be filled with the highest of highs, and lowest of lows. It's par for the course for someone who lives their dream of a life in drag racing.
And you will have one … your day will be here before you know it.
Sincerely, and with the deepest admiration,
Your Older Self