Friday, November 07, 2008

The true meaning of Grass Roots Anything….

The Golf club that Hugh and I belonged to before we started racing was a grass roots organization that succeeded.

Years ago a bunch of guys in LaPlace wanted to play golf and there was no place closer than the other side of New Orleans (50 miles away) to do so. That was a pain in the neck and being of good Cajun stock they decided to do something about it.

They scouted around and found some farmland, close in, that could be had for a good price since the old folks wanted out of the hard work and the kids had no desire to farm.

The group got together raised enough money to make a down payment and bought the farm. From there they began recruiting members and before long were able to assure that the mortgage payments would be met. Then they went to work.

Understand this about Cajuns. They are not lazy people. Relaxed, casual, fun loving… yes, but not lazy.

They laid out and built a golf course on that farm. Within a couple of years they were able to play on a regular basis. They hired a pro who was able to guide them even further and the course began to improve, The pro hired a grounds keeper and the course improved again. They made subtle changes in the course layout and the play was improved again.

They built a Clubhouse and a pro shop and expanded the operations to add more social functions so the rest of the family could enjoy what they were building. The built a swimming pool and added tennis courts an a driving range.

All of this within the framework of the basic membership. Every member of the club owns stock in it. It is still a requirement of becoming a member. And it is the members who support the club. Because they want to play golf and be able to partake in the functions of the club. It succeeds and supports it self and it’s members are happy.

Now of course, the city has grown up and has surrounded the once remote farmland. It is now nestled securely in the center of the community and has subdivisions all around it. It was not planned as an accessory to a land development scheme and perhaps that may be part of its charm and success. It is independent of the housing. That’s grass roots Golf.

Grass roots racing is similar.

When the guy who started No Problem Raceway wanted to play with his Drag Race Cars he need a place to do it. And he found or had the land.

Some friends who were also into racing convinced him that if he were to add a road racing track to the facility it could be made to pay for itself as well.

We make no bones about it. It is drag racing that is the backbone of No Problem Raceway. It brings in crowds of spectators in almost every weekend. The drag cars are fast and exciting to watch if you are into fifteen second races.

For those of us who are road racers, where dedicated racers go wheel to wheel against each other over a twisty difficult course, it is the grass roots thing again. We want to race. We want to race against each other and have a ball doing it. If it means we have to show up on “work days” to help make improvements to the track we do so.

After Gustav and Ike we got the call. The storm had blown away the flagging stands.

Since the flag stands are the only way the corner workers have of communicating with drivers during a race it was necessary that they be replaced.

The drivers attention is centered, as it should be, on what is going on around him on the track. He learns quickly however, that he must keep the corner of his eye on what is happening at the flag stand. It needs to be in the same location each lap so we know where to check. It is his first line of warning that something is amiss ahead of him. It is where he gets told that there are problems down stream or that some one faster is coming up behind him. It is also where he will find out that someone has seen that he is leaking fluid which might endanger others on the track or that he has a mechanical problem he might not be aware of. All of these signals come from the flag stand.

And ours were gone.

Grass roots means that you don’t wait for someone to do it for you. You jump in and get it done so you can continue to do what you love doing. It is for this passion that the guys show up when there is a call.

It helps that there are contractors in the group who have the portable tools available to make the job easier. It also helps that they are accustomed to planning projects like this and are willing to put in the effort to design the new stands, estimated the amount of material required to build them, have it on hand and then organize the workforce to get the job done. It helps that they are also among drivers who want to compete. That’s grass roots. The helpers are from jobs and professions as varied as you might imagine. From electricians to lawyers. That’s grass roots

The plan was to build all the stands in one place and the move them out to the needed locations with a fork lift. The roof would be installed once they were in place. In one good work day and it all got done.

That’s grass roots racing.


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