Athlete’s Voices: Dina Parise, Episode 3: Personality VS. Performance the Bottom Line….
Now, don’t let the title fool you. I’m not implying that personality should override performance any day. I have to be on my game at all times. Drag Racing is an exhilarating, yet dangerous sport.
But I think now days it may all come down to semantics. Let me explain.
In the early days of Drag Racing we had such ‘Characters’ as Shirley ‘Cha Cha’ Muldowney (For those of you not ‘in the know’, she IS the ‘First lady of Drag Racing’), Bill ‘Grumpy Jenkins, Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits… The list goes on. There were even famous faces for products. Take for example Linda Vaughn. She became famous and well-loved as the iconic ‘Miss Hurst Golden Shifter’ girl! All of these people with ‘character’ did their jobs well sometimes with a bit of controversy all while representing the product or business supporting their racing (Linda excluded). By all means, it worked! The stands were packed, they were household names and we were watching them on ABC’s Wide World of Sports . Of course that was before the formation of sports channels as we know them today.
Having had the honor of recently spending time with ‘Big Daddy’, I would like to share this. His influence on racers as well as fans is remarkable. As my husband Andrew and I stood having a conversation with him, (in a public place) regarding motor issues people just began to stop and listen. It was worthy of an E.F. Hutton commercial! That is the type of influence we need to re-create today…. We need to absorb the knowledge that is being passed down and pass it on ourselves to keep our sport thriving.
Our ‘Characters’ or ‘Personalities’ of the early days of Drag Racing in my opinion (and in reality) got the job done. The fans knew what products they were representing yet the drivers were still that, the drivers. Fans patronized said stores and used said products. Goal achieved. As a bit of a ‘Character’ myself I have a hard time stifling my personality at all. I ‘gotta’ be me. As many of you have come to know, I was a professional skater for the ‘Ice Capades’ before I became a professional Drag Racer. So, being ‘understated’ may not be my strong suit. OK, it’s definitely not my strong suit.
It is my observation that in today’s world of motorsports, some are looking too ‘robotic’ for the sake of the corporate world. Oh, ok. I’m going out on a limb here, but it needs to be said. I am pointing out the ‘pink elephant’ in the room, (and I just may be it, HA!)! Why would you take a successful way of doing ‘business’ and change it? Would the WWE survive without personalities? I think not. I understand that ‘times change’. Yes. But human nature remains the same. We are all still human. We still want to be entertained regardless of what swirls around us. We still want to laugh and we still want to become even a bit emotionally invested in something. Anything. We want to cheer the hero, jeer the villain and shake the hand of the winner. It helps to remove us from what ails us in everyday life. Yes, in order to ‘support’ our sport (like most for that matter), Big business is here to stay. I get that. Of course it makes the world-go-round. Although big business pays the bills, I feel we need to remind them (big business) about the actual consumers, who are AKA the fans. And, I believe this translates to all sports and all fans. I may be a driver, but I am a consumer as well. I have to buy products just like anyone else. Now, would I rather listen to someone with a personality have fun plugging a product, or hear a type of ‘Super Talker’? As a consumer (and a driver), I opt for fun. I tend to tune out on the latter. If you incessantly spew out the same words over and over, I for one begin to tune that out. Being one on one with my fans, let’s me know what works for real people (because I am one). Fans are the consumers. We need to stay in touch with our fans, because ultimately they spend the money, they come to the races and they buy the products that support our sport! If we lose touch, we lose fans. I love my fans and I love my sport. I will continue to pay attention to what the fans want. I just need others to listen, to really make things work. It’s a cycle and we need to keep it revolving.
And keep it revolving I will! I will keep on forging ahead ¼ mile at a time.( That is 1320 Feet for those of you who may play trivia!) It’s always a wild ride, and I would not give it up for anything. So much can happe heading down that 1320 in 6 seconds at 240 MPH you can’t imagine! Pulling 3.4 G’s leaving the line is just the beginning. Learn more about Dina Parise Racing here! http://dinapariseracing.com/ We promise not to disappoint !
Catch you for the next Episode!
Dina Parise Racing~DPR
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