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DRO: What are you consciously doing to get more people to come out to the races?

TC: We are trying to create an awareness of NHRA; to make people say "I'm gonna go out and see what drag racing is all about." I'm talking about influencing the person that really hasn't been exposed to the drag racing experience. There are several ways we are trying to do this. The first is advertising. We now have the first national advertising campaign in our history. Our previous ads never really hit the feel of the sport. Our "We have ignition" ads stress that drag racing has 5,000 horsepower, 300 mph race cars. We are trying to let people know what type of cars are running out there, the car show, the pit passes - things that are unique about the show.

The second is to get the print and electronic media's attention. We want the media to write and talk about us and let people know what a great experience it is. That's changing very fast right now. We are getting a lot of media.

DRO: What can you tell us about the NHRA television package?

TC: We've obviously done two things on television. First, we put together a five-year relationship with ESPN on the broadcast side. We will have the consistency and credibility of television with the fours hours of coverage that each race will get this year. That kind of coverage makes all the difference in the world in my opinion. We've increased the number of times our television magazine is aired this year. It will be on every week on Thursday.

We made another important change to by hiring an ESPN production crew to shoot our races. They are going to do a lot of new things and shots in covering our races like the overhead blimp angle and the "super slo-motion" camera. We've already seen a lot of attention just from the first show.

DRO: What is NHRA doing to make their facilities more fan-friendly?

TC: We are making sure that our facilities have the proper amenities fans are accustomed to having when they attend other major sporting events. We can't have them come to one of our tracks and have a bad experience because of the facilities.

We're also upgrading our facilities. In 1998 here in Pomona we replaced all the parking facility's asphalt and put in new aluminum seating. We upgraded the whole facility. In 1998 we launched the Route 66 Dragway in Chicago which is one of our "stadium" facilities like the Texas Motorplex. With the angle of the seating at Route 66 there isn't a bad seat in the house and every seat at Route 66 has a seat back. It's the next generation of drag racing complexes.


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