Those who do not know their history...

There’s an axiom suggesting that “Those who do not know their history are destined to re-live it.”  Over time, we who have spent our professional careers in the automotive high performance and motorsports communities have experienced the influence of factors outside our immediate industry; e.g., the fuel “crisis” of the early 70s, environmental issues pertaining to vehicle emissions, onboard electronics, national economic cycles and a host of related initiatives that had direct or indirect impact on the core specialty parts industry.  Through a combination of creativity and entrepreneurism, we’ve collectively dealt with the times.

Today, the performance enthusiasts’ landscape is being touched by a population of factors we’ve not previously seen in the present combinations.  We’ve experienced the accelerated rise and subsequent moderation of pump fuel prices, and the effects of this roller-coaster ride are still being felt in the performance aftermarket.  We’re witnessing wagon-circling efforts by the Detroit community, still building vehicles while simultaneously trying to figure out why.  Unfortunately, at least for the street performance market segment, Detroit configures cars and trucks that become the basis for many of the specialty aftermarket parts we enjoy.  Excluding OEM performance cars, production units have been the historical and current platforms for modification.

For years, I’ve had a personally-signed copy of the infamous Duntov “manifesto of performance” to GM memorandum (penned in 1953) hanging in my office, heralding the dawn of “factory” high performance parts.  Inadvertently, Zora helped hasten development of a significant portion of the industry we’ve enjoyed and benefitted from for decades.  It’s abundantly clear those early days are now a part of history.  Even he once told me such circumstances would probably never occur again, and there’s plenty of evidence that supports his prediction.

Add to this the current opinions among some qualified persons proposing that motorsports (perhaps globally) is at a crossroads, and even its future stands to include notable changes.  To wit, such conventional wisdom had driven some highly-respected industry people to have formed a proposed “Green Racing Protocol” embodying recommendations and technical specifics for the use of alternative energy sources for race cars, not simply alternative fuels.  Forward-thinking car classifications and how racing associations could provide incentives for such technology developments are included in the document that has now received sanction from such factions as the Federal Department of Energy, Society of Automotive Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.  And while you’re smoking that over, contemplate the synergism in the effort required to draw these three remotely associated groups together for a common cause pertaining to motorsports.

Like it or not, we’re living in a time of automotive changes, some of which are simply evolutionary and others clearly revolutionary.  Of course, it’s not likely all this will occur quickly, but there’s more than just speculation that change is taking place.  Sometimes, it’s the forward-thinking person who gets the worm, early birds notwithstanding.  And there can even be opportunities buried in what might otherwise be considered non-tradition.  In fact, here’s an example that’s much closer to home.