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What does it cost to put a single-car team on the track for a season?

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 the results.

So 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 racing?

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.

Are 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 themselves thin.

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.

Are 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.

But 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.


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