Part 2: Earning respect and acceptance
California, and Parks, of course, was at the forefront. He was asked to represent NHRA at the Governor's Safety Conference in Sacramento, Calif., where, through a series of meetings at the two-day affair, he was able to present the "true picture" of the hot rodding sport. As a result of those presentations, high-ranking law enforcement and safety officials praised police chiefs, officials, and judges for their help in promoting safe hot rodding and asked them to continue their progressive activities.
Groups such as the Cleveland Hot Rod Council, which comprised delegates of seven active clubs in northern Ohio to hold meetings with community and law-enforcement representatives, and the 400-strong Michigan Hot Rod Association, representing 11 clubs, were cited as those contributing to the success of helping earn the public's respect and acceptance.
The SDTA, California's foremost advocate of the standing-start quarter-mile acceleration trials, took the community outlook idea a step further by organizing its first polio Benefit drags at the Paradise Mesa dragstrip, raising a then-impressive $1,000 for the Infantile Paralysis Foundation. The SDTA's effort and those of C.J. Hart's successful Santa Ana drags and the Ohio Cam Jammers, who which staged Ohio's first major meet at the Akron Airport, were among those duly noted in enviable two-page spreads in Hot Rod.
For every positive example such as these that Parks was able to publish in Hot Rod, supporters across the country took notes and attempted to work the same methods in their region. Parks also was quick to point out errors of judgment that had been made by clubs – such as involvement in illegal street racing – pointing out not just the downfall in credibility of the groups in question, but of hot rodding in general. It truly was going to have to be a global effort to "sell to the public" the theory of a safe and sane sport.
"Being a whipping boy for uniformed public officials, irresponsible writers, or other sensation seekers is not a pleasant position, but we shall continue to find ourselves in that role unless we get our thinking straightened out," wrote Parks. (NHRA also noted that it was of great importance that members refrain from the use of words such as "Maniacs,' "Killers," "Hell" or other words than connote recklessness, irresponsibility, or lawlessness when naming their clubs.)