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GOING THE DISTANCE

"BRAND LOYALTY"


by Genghis


PHOTO BY GENGHIS



CHEVY CHAPARRAL 1965




Values in life in the past few decades, seem to have been diminished somehow, diluted by the drip...drip...drip of time and political correctness in the name of diversity. Take motorsports, for example. Loyalty of fans in motorsports used to be brand-driven. Now, fan loyalty in all forms of motorsports are drivercentric. Fans today, indentify with individual drivers, whereas in the old days, fans aligned themselves to whoever was driving the brand of cars that these fans owned. Chevy fans followed Chevy drivers, Ford the Ford drivers, and so on. Sports car racing, NASCAR, it has all changed since the heady days of fierce btand loyalty that had fans in one camp, or another---to forever reflect their allegiance to the brand that they drove. The exception would be Formula One where the brand loyalty of the fans is still fierce. There has been a decrease in brand loyalty in other series. A Vette owner wasn't interested in being a Ford fan in NASCAR, just as a Mustang owner would rather fight than switch if he or she was driving a Blue Oval product. Nowadays, you have NASCAR fans who were the motorsports fans who were the most attached to brands in the past, rooting for drivers in Toyotas. These fans don't necessarily drive Toyotas. It is the idea of brand loyalty in the sport that has changed so radically over time. Hey man, I can't relate, ya know what I mean?

I have three major brand loyalties in my life, and I list these in the chronological order of their manifestation: Chevrolet, Nikon and Harley-Davidson. In 1960 I morphed into a huge Chevy fan. I specifically fell head over heels in lust with the Chevy Corvette. I began saving for my first Vette at the age of 13, when I socked away money from a part-time job after school. It in fact, took me six years to accumulate the three grand for a used Vette. Ever since that time, I've been a Chevy fan, and this has colored my allegiances to certain drivers in various motorsports disciplines, who drove Chevies in competition. This applied across the board in sports car racing, NASCAR, drag racing, and Indy Car racing. Formula One was exempt from brand loyalty influencing my fan allegiance, only because Chevy did not participate in Formula One. Formula One is the only series where my prefereces are driver-diven, and not brand-based.

In 1962, I got my first Nikon camera, a Nikon F. I in fact, still have this camera. Needless to say, I became a Nikon loyalist since that time 47 years ago. With the exception of an Olympus point and shoot film camera that I bought on a whim, all of my other cameras were Nikon. The picture of the Chevy Chaparral driven at the Bridgehampton, New York racetrack, was taken by that first Nikon. I've never seriously considered another brand of camera to own, other than Nikon. I've developed a loyalty to the brand that seems set in stone. I will never use any other serious camera besides Nikon.

I grew up with Harley riders around me, so you might say that my subconscious allegiance to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, began way before any conscious desire to own one erupted in me. Prominent among these older riders who groomed my mind to accept the Orange & Black were Steve Biondo and Big Mike Mercurio, who rode stripped Panheads, and Gallagher---who was a psycho mofo---who rode a rigid Ironhead Sportster. The day I saw the light was when I was at a dragracing strip in Queens known as the Connecting Highway, or simply "Connecting" to those of us who raced and hung out there. Connecting was a recessed highway with the streets above it. The streets were like balcony galleries from which spectators watched the races. The streets above were replete with hotdog vendors, so well-organized were these illegal drags. Racers often trailered their cars to the races, and raced for pink slips. Connecting was finally closed down by cops who cracked down, after some dragracers died by running into highway abutments. Before that happened, when I was watching some races from my '64 Vette one night, a panhead rider on stripped Panhead rode up next to my Vette's window, glanced at me, and dumped his clutch, taking off with a might blast from his fishtail pipes. This was a moment of revelation for me. My lust for a motorcycle after that, seemed to overshadow everything else in my life. Because of my predilection for Harleys that was fostered by association with my older Harley riding friends, the choice seemed clear and predestined. It had to be a Harley-Davidson.

What unfolded after I bought my first Harley in 1968 was four decades of an unshakable brand loyalty to Harley-Davidsons, that absolutely precluded the possibility of owning other brands. It is difficult to convey the depth and breadth of this brand loyalty to Harleys, to those who haven't experienced it. It is even hard to explain it to bikers who have owned Harleys only to dump 'em for other brands. Let's just say that I can't relate to that possibility, or to that lack of fidelity to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This to me, reeks of the shallowest anchoring in biker principles. If these tenets were cited and claimed before, then they should still be adhered to. There's no way that's gonna happen with me, man. No way, whatsoever. You don't see this type of brand loyalty to Harley motorcycles anymore, which used to be pervasive and almost universally accepted in the biker subculture. The evidence shows that the culture has become diluted enough, where it seems to many to be acceptable, to ride non-Harley. I think this is a copout. I can't accept this for myself. I couldn't even accept a good clone-powered bike like an S & S driven motorcycle. It's gotta be a Harley, man. Clones and foreign brands need not apply. It's me and my Harley 74 forever, baby! Later.

FINITO