DRAG RACING SHOULD BE MAKING MORE NOISE
A couple of years ago, Bernie Ecclestone knew an error was made in the pursuit of the engineering cutting-edge. His latest incarnation of Formula 1 cars that traditionally howled and screamed to the delight of motorsport fans were now too soft.
The sound had gone. And so had part of Formula 1’s soul.
Formula 1 design guidelines now dictated a new breed of racing monster: less thirsty and more efficient. Engineering marvels, yes. Entertainment machines, well, even Bernie agreed it had gone too far. To fans, it was an abomination. After all, the sport’s flagship category had gone from ear-shredding to crickets. From glorious high-pitched engine notes to the ability to hear tyres vibrating over rumble strips and the air slicing through aero packages.
Now, it’s a scramble to make Formula 1 cars louder again.
Sound is a signature in motorsport.
It’s why NASCAR impact guns will never veer from that trademark buzz. That sound is part of the fabric of the sport. Don’t mess with it.
All-electric vehicle racing, while in its infancy, is carving its own niche within the world of motorsport, allowing manufacturers to showcase their prowess when it comes to non-combustion engines. Plus, they’re handy to race in highly populated locations without fear of big sticks from the noise police. But is watching racing with the sound turned down any good? Does hearing an aero package at work produce the same goosebumps as a traditional engine at speed? Well, just ask any F1 fan.
Perhaps it’s a generational shift, and shortly the issue of excessive sound won’t be an issue. You never miss what you never had, right? A gloomy thought, that’s for sure. To think, future motorsport fans may never feel what it’s like to wear ear plugs at a race as sound reverberates through their bodies. Hell, it may not even be referred to as ‘motor’ sport. We’ll head out to watch something called Charged Racing And Propulsion. Yeah, the acronym says it all.
Guess motorsport is a lot like The Rolling Stones. Their new stuff is ok, but it’s the classics that get the heart pumping.
More than ever, drag racing should be playing in the territory of sound when it comes to promoting events. As other motorsports muffle, drag racing stays loud and proud.
Top Fuel racing is not only ear-drum blowing, but mind blowing - sound and speed in the ultimate combo meal. One of those ‘you must see it live before you die’ experiences. Transcending the motorsport fan, Top Fuel racing hits every human in the grand stand in the very same way. Big.
This is where there is a marketing hole for drag racing.
Top Fuel has a chance to be the malcontent of motorsport.
As racing categories dial-up and showcase their efficiencies and responsibilities, drag racing should be screaming to a society fed-up with restriction and over-governance that’s it’s still OK to be fast, loud and brash. And if you don’t like it, bugger off.
Drag racing, as a brand, has an opportunity to transcend and stand alongside the many who are over being told what they can and cannot do in life. In other words, drag racing, lead by Top Fuel, can reach beyond its category - that’s what the great brands do; they relate and reassure at a much higher level. Sure, there are a few motor-cross brands playing in this territory, but none will proudly shatter your ear drums if you get too close without protection.
Let’s be honest. Drag racing is woman and man against machine in the most vicious, dangerous and pure expression of speed there is. Unapologetically so. Top Fuel dragsters are the most head-splitting, gas-guzzling road machines on the planet (cue gorilla grunts). And it’s this rebellious attitude, the going against the grain of the current trends, that should translate through in the communications as a means of reinvigorating the brand.
Sometimes, being the good guy isn’t always good for a brand.
It worked for Harley Davidson. It can work for drag racing.