does it cost to put a single-car team on the track for a
Skuza: I can tell you the
last year we went racing we spent nearly $2 million and we
did it as tight as we could. You probably can do it for a
lot less, but I’m talking about fielding a competitive
top-10 or top-5 car, with that type of an effort. It’s
not that hard to figure out. You can go through catalogs
and figure out what people are spending just based on the
parts in their trailer, talk to a few people and find out
what average salaries for capable crewmembers and a good,
knowledgeable crew chief, and just work it out. On a shoestring
you probably could do it for about $1 million, but I just
don’t think any sponsor is going to be very happy with
it sounds like for what it costs just to be an associate
sponsor of a NASCAR Nextel Cup team, that same money could
buy a primary sponsorship of a top-notch NHRA team and
probably put that team in the winner’s circle a couple
of times. What can be done to draw those sponsors to drag
Skuza: I think the biggest
shot in the arm we’ve had, other than the fact that
Coca-Cola is behind us with the long-term POWERade sponsorship,
was the Street and Smiths article that came out last year,
every marketer reads that, and when they showed NHRA as being
top value it made it a lot easier for me. Every time I brought
that up everyone was well aware of it.
And it helped not just for securing new sponsorships, but
for existing ones, too, it helped to solidify them. That
was huge, because it gave real numbers, not inflated ones,
and people in that business, the marketing side, they live
by Street and Smiths, that’s their Bible.
you interested in running as a team car, or can a one-car
team continue to be competitive?
Skuza: I think so. It depends
on who it is and how it’s run. I think if [John] Force
had only one car instead of three, he’d still be where
he is today because those guys are the best at spreading
I’ve always looked at a two-car team as if it’s
run properly, how could it hurt? You get twice as much information.
But on the other side of the coin, if one car is struggling,
it can be a distraction, both in terms of attention and money.
Look at this year. I don’t mean to point fingers, but
I’ve got to think [Don] Prudhomme would rather've had
just one car this year.
you concerned, though, about the growth of multi-car teams,
especially with only a 16-car field?
Skuza: Yeah, a little,
because when you look at other motorsports, Cup in particular,
team play has been around for a long time; they always work
together. I think the fans of drag racing don’t like
it, though, because drag racing is made up of a series of
climaxes and that’s a big part of why people watch.
If they already know, or at least suspect what’s going
to happen, it takes that climax away. Team play in Cup racing
might involve tossing some roll bar padding to get a caution
and let your teammate catch up. It’s just not as apparent
and doesn’t take away from the climax if there’s
manipulation of the results through team play, not the way
it does in drag racing. I’m not going to name names,
but there are (NHRA) teams out there that race heads up and
some that don’t. But if you think about the reason
for having two cars, it’s all about manipulation. I
mean that’s the big advantage of it.
would you operate two cars if sufficient sponsorship materialized?
Skuza: Absolutely. Like
I said, if done properly it can only be of benefit. But if
we ever did that, it would have to be heads up. The fan base
that we’ve generated over the years, I wouldn’t
ever want to jeopardize that, even though I know it might
be good in terms of business. I’d actually rather have
one really well-financed car that we run the wheels off every
Monday and Tuesday and test the heck out of, rather than
have two cars just to manipulate our results.