FOR THIS CONGRESSWOMAN, DRAG RACING'S COMMUNITY ARE HER KIND OF PEOPLE
It didn't take United States congresswoman Diana Harshbarger long to realize she was in the perfect place on Father's Day eve. She was a guest of former Pro Modified crew chief Randy "Crusher" Lewis (Randy Moore) at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Harshbarger has been a staunch supporter of the RPM Act, bipartisan legislation to protect Americans' right to convert street vehicles into dedicated racecars, and the motorsports-parts industry's ability to sell products that enable racers to compete. The bill clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a racecar used exclusively in competition. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market, and install racing equipment.
"These are my kind of people," said Harshbarger, who represents Tennesse's First District, which spans from Bristol Motor Speedway to Dollywood. "They're out here to have fun. They have a love and a passion for racing, and it's no different to what I have, so we get along real well."
As Harshbarger sees it, the right to be able to work on one's high-performance car is just common sense.
"Well, common sense, I don't know how long it's been gone, but it's missing in action right now," Harshbarger said. "You got to remember, there's a lot of people up there that hold office that have never worked a real job or run a successful business, and they think the world should be different. When you live in a bubble, and you haven't dealt with everyday problems, you get what you get. There is no common sense because you can't even try to do things bipartisanly with anybody. It's very hard, and I work with anybody if they want to push our country forward or my district."
Up until Saturday, Harshbarger's only racing experience had been NASCAR. Despite not having been in person, Harshbarger knew what drag racing was all about.
"They said Shirley Muldowney was there. I'm like, what? My dad and I watched her race all those years ago. So this is, it's nothing new for me to watch it, but be here in the middle of it, that's pretty special.
"These people truly love this sport, and they want it to go forward. They're very proactive in everything they do. That's why I'm involved in RPM legislation because you give the government an inch, they'll take a mile, and we can't have that.
"I use an analogy; it's like the gun legislation right now. You can't give an inch on certain things. We want to do so many things to make things better, but these people are just... They love the sport and there is... They love their faith, their freedom, and they love their flag, and they love their country. What more do you want if you're a first district representative like I am here in Tennessee?"
As Harshbarger sees it, the gearheads just want to be left alone to do what they love. She's here to ensure they get what they want.
"Heck, yeah," Harshbarger said. "They don't want government intrusion. Leave us alone. Let us live our lives. That's more of a libertarian view, and, hey, listen. Don't get involved unless you make their lives a little better, and that's not always the case, either."