January 2012 Social – Tom Hnatiw

By Otto Mittelstaedt

TomHnatiwFull house for our January Social at the Mimico Crusing Club

Tom Hnatiw ( it’s pronounced NA-choo), writer, broadcaster, producer, and automotive television show host was the guest speaker at the January 2012 Social.  According to Tom’s wife, this is the fifth time that he has spoken at a UCR Social. The title of his multi-threaded talk was “Substantiated Racing”, ie, racing made relevant. A subtopic was “Sustainable Racing”. I have to admit, that I never thought I would hear those two words in the same sentence. Sustainable racing has nothing to do with the eco system, but is about saving racing from extinction.Tom pointed out that there is only one racing series that is paid to be on TV and that is, Nascar. All other series pay to have their races on TV and the sums involved are substantial. TV racing can’t compete on its own with the likes of Tiger Woods or Oprah. Having manufacturers pay huge amounts for what is essentially marketing may not be sustainable.The origins of many racing series, club racing, driver education are that people wanted to have something to do with their post-war sporty cars. Now many of these people are getting on in years. Tom noted the grey hair of many of the enthusiasts in the room. There has to be a place for young people to start. Currently, karting satisfies these needs. From there, they can go on to autocross, DE and club race. Is there a career path? For pro hockey, there are some 800 plus seats for players to aspire to. For the top tiers of open wheel racing, there are only 22.

Racing has to be affordable for more than just manufacturers. Tom pointed out that in drag racing, mom and pop racers can field essentially the same equipment for 30 years. Someone who shells out a quarter million for a new GT3 Cup car needs to have something to do with it after it stops being competitive after 3 years. Club racing and series such as US GT can be a place for these cars, as well as Vipers, Corvettes, Porsches and so on.

In the end, Tom thinks that the fate of racing is in the hands of clubs such as UCR, and he commends us for our efforts.

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