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  • The Sport Compact Culture

    The Sport Compact Culture - Are we going the way of the Dinosaurs?
    Written by Steve Ingels

    Over the past 10 years that Iíve been into sport compacts, a lot has changed. Some good, some bad, but at changes nonetheless. I started out with a VW Gti VR6 and moved from there to Honda in 2002. Iíve been a die hard ever since.

    Letís go back a little ways; what got me into sport compacts in the first place...

    It was 1998 and I had a 95 Ranger Splash slammed and bagged. I was into show mods and cruising. Yeah, I liked a little bit of power and speed, but my truck wasnít capable. So entertaining that thought, I went to the local track with some friends from work (both in Hondas at the time). I raced my low rider, bass pounding; neon lit Ranger down the track at a blistering speed and completed time of 17.5. Soon after I got a new job and sold the truck and got my Gti.

    My point of entry was performance. I wanted to race. I spent the next few years modifying my Gti to make it one of the fastest imports (at the time) and REALLY enjoyed modifying my car. I spent countless hours buying parts, going to races and bracket racing my Gti (I was too slow to race against Supras since I had nitrous and a 6cyl).

    Time goes by and I move up to the EP3 Si Hatch. I loved this car. I had it boosted within 9 months of ownership and it was a great car to drive around in. I spent a ton of cash on it and also raced the hell out of it.

    As all of this is going down, Iím taking notice that the fan base at the races are dropping. The cars being backed by larger sponsors are disappearing as are returning teams. Whatís going on? So I started reading more forums and watching trends and trying to figure out where the train derailed.

    Here are my findings and opinions:

    Fact: Drag race events are drawing smaller crowds
    Iím just as guilty as everyone else. I need to try to at least get out there if not for my site for the sport. I know your schedule is busy, but donít bitch about downsizing if you canít spend a few hours and dollars supporting them. Nothing runs for free forever.

    Fact: Drag race events are drawing fewer participants
    NOPI has stepped for the 2008 season by having a few sportsman only races. We need more of this. Sportsman and bracket racers need their 15 mins of fame to perpetuate them through the next mod/race. Iíd like to see a lot more races like this.

    Fact: There are seemingly less sport compact drag racing events nationwide
    This is in part to sponsors and getting interest in events. If we canít get people to the track, we canít get new eventís there.

    Christian - Looking back to the late 90's. It was a different time. Cheaper gas, cheaper parts, more manufactures' of parts. I think it was just a bigger public crowd.

    It's funny that you mention the drag scene is dwindling. In my area the road race community is blowing up. It's not just Honda's. It's all types of cars. The last NASA (National Auto Sport Association) day at ThunderHill had over 90 cars on the course at 1 time. There was Honda challenge, thunder roadsters, legends and I think spec Miata all running at the same time. HPDE groups sell out at just about every event and have waiting lists.

    Trendsracing - Drag racing events have got small, I agree. Although autocross has got very popular lately around the area I live in. I cant wait to enter a few myself.

    The problem I see is, not many people out there actually have a goal in mind for there car... they just want to be the faster or better looking ride. Street racing has a lot to do with the drag racing scene fading away. It's so easy and convenient to just get in your car and race the first muffler you see, but what people don't know is that... to wait to go to the drag strip doesn't only give one something to look forward to, but it gives you the opportunity to meet and speak with the people that love the sport and have great knowledge and can help you in many ways. If we could get all these kids that are giving the "real sport compact enthusiast" a bad name, get them off the street and on the track, the sport compact/drag racing scene would be the place to be... again. My $0.02.

    Fact: More and more people are having parts installed and not getting into the real satisfaction of modding...doing it yourself.
    I loved working on my car(s). Made me feel a sense of accomplishment when I was done and I had something to show for it. Weíve had a few DIY days at my house to spark the mod bug with people and itís had good results. When people can install parts and get that rush of DIY, they tend to spend more and get more involved in the "sport".

    These are a few of the reasons/issues we have in the SC world, but what all can we do to fix it? Make it out to a few races a year. Spend money or time on your car and do it with others. Make threads about your hard work and show others how easily it can be done. Lastly, race your car! On the drag strip, autox course or even in a parking lot dodging cones. Just get out there and do it!

    Take some time to give back to the noobs and teach them what you know. If you can show a young kid why a badly designed/installed fiberglass body kit is a poor choice and what his money would be better spent on based on his needs/personality.

    What Iím planning on doing in 2008/2009 to aid this cause:
    K-Series.com Coverage of Autocross, SCCA and NASA events - Full coverage of all of your favorite K powered turning monsters.

    K-Series.com BBQ - Food, beverages, sun and fun. Weíll have vendors out there as well as some entertainment for adults and kids.

    K-Series.com Tech/Install Day - Weíll go over a few basic installs as well as tools and what you can use in your driveway if you donítí have access to a compressor and impact tools. (Tricks and necessities for any Honda/Acura owner)

    K-Series.com Dyno Day - Iíll be getting with HPC in Ft. Lauderdale to organize another Dyno Day Extravaganza.

    RaceCoated.com at 2 Drag Racing events - How does this help? Gets another vendor at the event (more reason for them to come back). Gets more people interested in getting work done and doing work on their car and thus continuing the mod bug. Also gets more people out to the race if theyíre interested in getting work done by me.

    Now, I know itís a not a lot but itís what I can do. Iíve spanned it over into 2009 because I KNOW I canít do it all this year. But Iím going to try and do my part.

    If youíre a south FL local and would like to help with any of this, please PM me on the forums or email me through the US page link.

    In conclusion, give back to the community and get your friends and young neighbors involved. Letís breath life back into the SC market and get this rumor of Sport Compacts dying out squashed.
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