If you've seen my This Is Me page, and if you made it to bullet #4, then you know that I grew up around fast things...specifically fast cars...and specifically fast cars at the local circle dirt track. While I appreciated all that those fellas poured into their favorite pastime, I was never a big fan. I was just a fan of my dad, and his cool car. And I always liked getting dirty. So it worked out great for me.
Most Saturday nights during race season, that's where you would find me, my brother, and my mom and dad...at various dirt tracks in South Carolina and Georgia. And on any given Sunday afternoon during race season, you could bet that our fifty-inch Sears® front projection television (another lucky owner's is pictured below) would be busy broadcasting NASCAR (after wrestling was over, of course).
My dad and brother were big, big, BIG racing fans. But, only fans of circle-track stock car racing.
And certainly no dogs and horses. Nurp.
And most certainly, no drag racing. Psssh.
Knowing this, you can imagine my shock and surprise back last year when I began to hear chatter and excitement from them about this drag racing group out of North Carolina called The Southeast Gassers Association (SGA). I had no idea what a gasser was (in fact, it made me chuckle every time they said the word), and I couldn't quite get over the fact that they were so jacked up about drag racing. Drag racing! What?! I felt like I needed to shake them. "Dad. Stephen. Do you hear yourselves?!"
But it didn't take long before they educated me a bit on The Southeast Gassers and I began to understand why they had "crossed over". One especially fun fact is that the founder of the SGA, Quain Stott, comes from a long line of drag racing champions and is an IHRA ProMod champion himself.
So, I quickly learned that this wasn't any ol' group of drag racers with big, ugly mis-matched cars. You know the ones. The ones that look like your grandma's green Monte Carlo, except it's found a new life as a metallic purple Monte Carlo...with...flames...from an orange Sharpie®.
No, dawg...these cars are...
Well...just have a look...
Sooooo rad, right?! The kicker is, they have to be period correct, following the strictest gasser rules in the world based off the 1967 rule book. I don't know all of the ins and outs about what that means exactly, so check out their website if you'd like to know. (I just know it's way cooler and more fun than that metallic purple Monte Carlo that used to be your grandma's.)
Despite how intriguing all of this is, Quain and the boys running the Southeast Gasser show had just been having a difficult time getting the word out and needed a little marketing help. My brother, Stephen, stepped in to help spread the word, and recruited me to help with the designs for various marketing pieces. We quickly got to work researching racing posters and paraphenalia of the 1960's. This was extremely interesting and super fun. I love digging into old ads/posters/type/images/etc., so, given the task of mimicking that particular look was all up my alley.
The first 11x17 poster we did was for the finals race in November last year. Eight posters would follow for the 2016 season (pictured below sequentially). These seemed to really get folks excited about the upcoming races. They gave a "face" to each event and each poster design was a quick way to push out advertising via Instagram and Facebook in addition to providing a physical promo piece and a collectible souvenir. Each time we completed a poster design, Stephen had 250 printed to sell at the events and to spread around town prior to the event. My dad (and sometimes my mom) drove tons of miles distributing posters to area businesses to help spread the word. We also set up a Dropbox for folks who were kind enough to get the files printed on their own and distribute them within their area. It takes a village, y'all!
Stephen has done an incredible job reigniting the buzz and sparking folks to spread the word. All of this hustling has paid off, too. The proof is in the pudding! In the past year, the Southeast Gassers Instagram following has grown from 303 to just over 9700. Facebook followers have soared from 4500 to nearly 20,000, and the number of active cars/participants and cars being built currently totals over 100. (Take a minute right now to go give them a follow and keep pushing those numbers up!)
It's been a fun year diving into this stuff with the Southeast Gassers and getting to work alongside my brother on stuff that takes us back to our roots...even though it's on asphalt instead of dirt, and even though the track is straight as an arrow and has zero curves. It's still four wheels going crazy fast.
So, come on out to the Greer Dragway in Greer, SC on November 5 and witness in-person what I've been babbling on and on about. I promise, you'll have a good time. (Even if you're technically only a horse or dog racing fan.)
All of the really great photos by: Matthew Franklin Carter
All of the semi-decent photos by: Stephen and Carla