While researching the article on the efforts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may or may not be making to put you out of business (page 44) I took a walk down memory lane.
Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same.
A long time ago, I was editor of a magazine here at Babcox Media that was published for the brick and mortar speed shop industry. First published in 1966, Specialty & Custom Dealer (then Speed & Custom Dealer) was the first trade magazine designed to help performance parts jobbers and retailers win business against the shop across town and win battles against unreasonable pressures from government on safety and emissions.
I was editor of the magazine in the early 1990s and, apart from the color and length of the hair in my photo, many of the columns I was writing and editing then weren’t that much different than those I’m writing these days in Engine Builder.
Competition for business is still intense. Customers still have unreasonable expectations. And Big Brother is still watching you.
Another similarity from then to now? Jim McFarland is still on the job, helping the specialty and performance aftermarket navigate the minefields of governmental emissions regulations. Jim was an editorial advisory board member for the SCD staff and wrote regularly (and well) on the challenges the performance industry was facing and would face in the years to come.
Writer, consultant, engineer and visionary, Jim can take credit for a lot of things in this industry, many of which directly impact your business today. He won’t brag about them, but let’s just say that if it had anything to do with the performance industry, Jim McFarland probably had something to do with it.
As editor of Hot Rod Magazine, he recognized early on that California and the Federal government were on parallel tracks to the same station: emissions regulations. Rather than bury his head in the sand or take a more confrontational approach, he realized the value of relationship building and education. He continues to stress the importance of maintaining working relationships in order to move down the track.
He helped Vic Edelbrock develop both parts and marketing campaigns, he helped OEMs and professional racers improve their products and he helped me and many of my contributors tell stories in a much more accurate way. I appreciate very much what Jim has done for my magazines over the years – even more what he has done for my readers.
As I was looking through those back issues of SCD, the articles and the ads reminded me of what a closeknit community the performance aftermarket was – and still is. A lot of the names from the old days are still active in the industry today. Many of the legendary brand names from the ’60s and ’70s are still around, proving that this industry is adaptable enough to meet the challenges and continue to improve.
I’ve seen the same thing, of course in back issues of Engine Builder. Equipment suppliers, parts manufacturers, WDs – recognizable names are still active and long-time subscribers keep doing great work.
As Jim McFarland reminded me just the other day, the relationships that many of us in this industry are proud of are the reason this industry is as robust as it is.
And speaking of robust, several of you have asked me about the engine that I am holding in this picture. No, I am not 22 feet tall, holding a full-size NASCAR racing engine. This is a 1/4 scale model of the Chevy engine in Dale Earnhardt’s Black #3 from 2002. Produced and sold by NASCAR collectable manufacturer Action Performance, this cool piece reminds me daily that this industry is still a lot of fun.
Just like the old days.