Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page

  I've had conversations with tire manufacturers who have expressed an interest in getting involved in building professional class tires for NHRA and were rebuffed. Toyo tires is a very good example. Would IHRA entertain the idea of having it's own tire manufacturer like Goodyear for it's professional classes. 

Polburn:  Are you talking about an exclusive tire manufacturer?

  Well, yes, Goodyear is the exclusive tire manufacturer for most of the NHRA’s professional classes. 

Polburn: They are the only ones that produce a professional class tire, which makes it easy.

  Well, that's not entirely true. There's certainly been plenty of other tire companies that have attempted to  produce tires for the NHRA professional classes, but NHRA took Goodyear's money for Goodyear be the official tire of NHRA. In the past Firestone and Hoosier, just to name two, had made tires that were good for use in the professional classes up to and including the nitro classes. The folks at Toyo have told us in conversations that they would love to make tires for the professional classes but NHRA’s association with Goodyear made that impossible.

Polburn:  I believe that competition is good, but would we make a company like Toyo an exclusive provider of fuel tires? Probably not. There would have to be some serious testing and guarantees of supplies going on before we would ever let that happen. I would have to believe that another manufacturer would make everybody better. Now that's logic talking. I don’t know anything about making a tire or anything along those lines, it just seems to me to be common sense.

  Are there any plans in your future to improve the TV package, change your network affiliation or even perhaps go on a major non-cable network?

Polburn: We just announced our 2006 schedule and as you will see on that schedule, thanks to Speed Channel and a lot of hard work from our counterparts at Live Nation Motorsports in Aurora (Illinois), we have gotten a program actually closer to the air date.  Again, taking the baby steps in getting them closer. Ken Hudgens, who is the vice president of marketing for Live Nation Motorsports, and I will be making a trip to see Speed here in the next 30 days to discuss what we need to do to go forth and make it even better. So, on the Speed Channel program, we're happy, they're happy and it can get a lot better and that's what we need to discuss.

The other thing is that we can't really grow unless we start finding ourselves at least sporadically on network television. somehow, somewhere. I'm working on a program right now where there is a probably better than 50 percent chance that we will get our first little taste on CBS television this year. And I'm actually using a business plan that Ken Hudgens and Live Nation Motorsports put into place for their Supercross series where they went to, I can't remember if it was CBS or NBC, they went there and did a best of highlights show. That happened one year and then the next year they actually did a couple of races and then they grew it from there and I think next year I think there will be seven or eight of the Amp Mobile Supercross races on CBS next year. And that's out of a 16-18 race series, so, again, that's the goal. That's where we need to go.

  Do you believe it possible that drag racing could eventually compete with NASCAR for fan base, sponsors, and market share?

Polburn:  No. We're apples and oranges, that's just the honest answer. No, we are too far away from each other. Drag racing as an entertainment venue is going to make a lot of people a lot of money and entertain a tremendous fan base and attract tremendous sponsors, but not on the level of NASCAR.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Polburn: You’re very welcome.


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