English 1113: Freshman Composition I
Dr. Christina V. Cedillo
Community profile on Drag Racers
This community profile was gathered from local drag racers in the northwest Arkansas area. The racers in this area are extremely competitive during races but openly support rivals on open technical forums and gather on weekends to hang out with people with similar tastes and interests. These people appear to have very little in common to someone at first glance. It’s not uncommon to see people that come from complete opposite genres in life engrossed in conversation due to the common love of drag racing. I am going to investigate these groups and attempt to pinpoint a common denominator that glues so many people from different backgrounds into one diversified group of people known as drag racers.
I believe the drag racing community in this area is one of the most close knit communities around. I have witnessed racers pull parts off their own cars so that someone can make a final round appearance, or wait on the side of the interstate because a fellow racer had car trouble on the way home from a race. I even once witness to a gentleman that torched a head during a semi-final of a big race. “Torching a head” is a slang term used by racers when a cylinder head actually begins to melt from the heat, the affected area of the head looks like it has had a torch taken to it. It began raining shortly after the pass and the track officials decided to postpone the race till the next morning. He was about to load up and head home since there was no way he could make the final round due to his broke motor. A local racer saw the events transpire and offered to help since he happened to own a machine shop nearby. Now I am aware that many of you reading this may not understand the work involved with this kind of repair, but rest assured it would not be uncommon for this to require a couple of weeks to repair. He helped the racer pull the heads in the pit, drove to his shop around 10pm, welded the torched head up, replaced the broken components, and put a fresh valve job on both heads and had it back to the racer by the next morning having worked through the night so that a stranger would have a chance to win a race. Astonishingly he only charged the racer for the new parts installed and didn’t charge him a dime for labor, which should have been several hundred dollars in itself. All he said was make sure and win the race. The racer ended up winning the race due his opponent redlighting and ending the race before it started. Redlighting is when one driver takes off before the green light comes on. http://richfiddelke.blogspot.com It still is one of the greatest examples that I have witnessed where a racer selflessly devotes his time and effort, free of charge, to help a fellow racer in need that he has never met before. My hat is off to gentlemen like this.
My goal is to investigate how individuals got started in racing and what binds these individuals together. I have interviewed two local racers and three racers from a popular racing website. The first and most obvious question that I wanted to ask everyone was, how did you get involved in racing? This may seem like a very generic question to some but I wanted to know the peoples earliest involvement with racing and if this could be the thread that binds them together. I interviewed one local racer that wished to remain anonymous due to his street racing background. When I asked him about getting involved with racing he recalled, “My dad and grandpa use to drag race, so growing up I was around it and decided I wanted to build a car as well.” This made me think that this may be a case of family tradition impacting his choice. Did he get involved with racing because subconsciously he felt compelled to follow in his father and grandfathers footsteps? I pondered this for a while before deciding I couldn’t make a conclusion with more data, but an idea was already sprouting roots.
Steve Place was the second person that I interviewed. I was pretty excited to ask him how he got started racing. Steve was very forthcoming with his recollection, My brother had a 67 camaro that was ok. I traded my first vehicle (1953 Dodge truck) for a 69 camaro and became insta-cool when I outran the high school bad boys 429 ford, I was hooked from then on. I have to admit I was mildly disappointed that his father or grandfather weren’t the ones that initially exposed him to drag racing. From talking with Steve I deducted that although his brother had a camaro, this wasn’t what set the hook. I think the popularity that surrounded Steves defeat of the local bad boy is what drew him into the drag racing world, although the purchase of a camaro may have been directly related to his brother having one.
It was at this point that I turned to the online communities to help get a grasp on how people determine the credibility of someone they have never met before. I turned to several local Facebook groups of racers and Yellowbullet.com for more insight on this subject. One of the questions asked was, how does the terminology used reinforce or undermine a posters credibility. I wanted to pursue this avenue of questioning because online automotive forums and groups have exploded over the past several years. How many people that are illiterate in the racer rhetoric join these forums looking to learn more about an intriguing hobby. I presented this question unsure of what impact it would have on my conclusions. Yellowbullet member, Tomato had this to say perceived arrogance by terminology undermines a poster or mis-read sarcasm. As I thought about this I realized how easy it would be to take a phrase out of context because we lack several physical indicators that trigger how we determine the attitude and tone of replies that we read. Most people who post to forums do not use punctuation. Yellowbullet member 2badcat helped reinforce this when he said, “Easy to tell a poser from a poster that knows their stuff by the terminology used.” At this point I started to think that terminology helped other forum member judge the literacy of the poster. That thought was short-lived due to Yellowbullet member, ADAMSVEGA, who bluntly stated “Some of the most illiterate f**ks on here curse, fragment sentences, cant spell,
Improper grammar and drive slower cars are the most knowledgeable and savvy
Racers and builders.” This rudely stated quote made me think about what he was really trying to communicate though. We have no way to accurately judge a persons knowledge of racing by their grammar, use of words and terminologies. They could be very sharp individuals who simply do not like using the slang words.
Due to the criticism that someone is likely to receive on these online forums it is my theory that racers have already been exposed to the racing environment long before they make it to the online forums. I would find it hard to imagine that one would become hooked on a hobby they are trying to pursue while defending their un-accepted use of terminology when posting.
This brought up the actual terminology used by racers. I asked each person what were some specialized sayings used by racers, Surprisingly no two people stated the same thing. Yellowbullet member, Speedracer 64, counted off the following statements he used “bumped in in hard, put it in deep, and sprayed it out of the hole.” http://www.flickr.com/photos/30psi/2522158609/ The fact that none of the racers had the same slang terminology I had to ask myself if these are sayings made up by each individual. I would have assumed there would be a few duplicate sayings. It was at this time I came to the conclusion that most of this terminology was based on slang words. These slang words could vary from racing community to racing community and is the most likely reason I had no duplicate terminology. I think the reason for the slang words is that each community is trying to differentiate itself from the other communities.
After interviewing the racers I have came to the conclusion that most racers that were introduced at a younger age are compelled to race because of a family tradition factor, they were following in their mentors footsteps. Racers who were introduced at older ages were compelled to do so by being part of a social clique and the desire to fit in.
Anonymous. Personal Interview. 19 Sept. 2013.
Steve Place. Personal Interview. 20 Sept. 2013
Tomato. Email Interview. 20 Sept. 2013
2Badcat. Email Interview. 21 Sept. 2013
ADAMSVEGA. Email Interview. 22 Sept. 2013
Yellowbullet. 22 Sept. 2013 <http://www.yellowbullet.com>