Volume X, Issue 5, Page 85

: In light of the boycott at the recent Las Vegas Heritage Race by the funny car association, would you like to comment on racers’ participation or non-participation?

GIBBS: It was disappointing; right now I’ve just got to wait to see where it all settles in. I certainly appreciate everyone who has supported the Hot Rod Heritage Series this year and the guys that supported the series that we are trying to carve out and did go to Vegas. As to the ones who didn’t - it was their choice, but to actively work against it - that’s troublesome. For the moment we’re just not sure where it’s going to go.

: How is the Heritage Series set up?

GIBBS: We are talking a modest series here, there’s no series sponsor of the Heritage Series. There’s a modest fee to the tracks that have the series events; that fee supplements the cost of running the series, once again these are very modest numbers. Having the stability of the nostalgia-type classes out there we can insure that there will be Reunion events for years to come. If for some reason that element of the sport were to flounder or go away altogether I’m not sure what the Reunion events would look like. It is all interrelated, but I think the Museum and the Reunions are a great showplace for the Heritage races, so that has a lot to do with the success of that series. The tracks get another tool to work with in their annual arsenal of events.

Again, NHRA is the sanctioning body, they are the ones who have to write the rules, enforce the rules, provide the insurance and set track standards and that’s where it belongs as far as control, but at the same time the Museum benefits from souvenir sales, paraphernalia that goes with the various series. I think the Reunion events benefit from the year-round publicity of the Heritage series. It is all connected.

: Does the Museum benefit financially, whether a particular Heritage Series event is profitable or not profitable?

GIBBS: Other than just the two Reunion events themselves, no. There is nothing if a particular Heritage race is an overwhelming success or has some problems; it is not going to have a direct bearing on the Museum. If we sell the Hot Rod Heritage Series merchandise and it’s a very successful race and sell more merchandise, then the Museum can make a little more money off of that. No, there is no direct impact on the Museum from the races other than the two Reunions that the Museum directly produces.

: Separate from the Museum, does the NHRA have a stake in the revenues from a Heritage race whether it is a profitable or not profitable event?

GIBBS: NHRA gets a modest sanctioning fee (nothing else). NHRA does not produce these events, these Heritage series events are totally produced by the tracks, so if they hit an absolute home run it doesn’t put any more money toward NHRA, if it is a total bomb it doesn’t impact on NHRA negatively. It is a modest series that NHRA is supporting with the tools NHRA has like National Dragster, the website, the insurance situation. It’s a great asset to help this thing grow.

: Do you think it will evolve to getting specific event sponsors to support the purses at Heritage Series events? Is it necessary to support the purses at some events?

GIBBS: I think sponsorships are probably one of the better ways of producing money for whatever… for track improvements or supplementing purses, hopefully we can come up with a series sponsor at some point that will help to supplement the purses. I think you can see that in any element of motorsports right now, sponsorship money is crucial. It has to be done carefully, you have to be cautious as far as sponsor conflicts, and it all has to fit within the overall scheme of things and not just randomly go out and start plucking dollars from anywhere you can get them. It needs to fit, it needs to be the kind of sponsorship that you are proud of and is complimentary to the other programs that the tracks have. Some of that is going on now. The AA/FD guys have supplemented their own points fund, they have raised money in certain ways to help look out for their own cause, so I think the different entities definitely need to help look out for themselves and if they can do it in cooperation with the tracks to get some sponsorship money that might be available, then that’s great. Collectively we need to make this as attractive as we can and still keep it manageable.

One of the things we have heard once in a while, that somebody is going to plow a bunch of money into a particular event out of the goodness of their heart…you know, some wealthy guy. That’s nice but it is artificial and all of a sudden you have a multi-millionaire who is going to throw a hundred grand at a race just because. It’s nice and you probably want to take the money, but if it is not there the next year then there is the expectation that somebody else should have to do the same. So I am a little nervous about some of that kind of funding that you hear about – it hasn’t really materialized, but if something is too good to be true then it is probably too good to be true.

It needs to be a long-term relationship, it needs to make sense, and it needs to have some validity why they are sponsoring the event other than just somebody that has money to throw at it. We haven’t seen much of that, but it has been talked about. But I would caution against that kind of funding, that is more than likely going to be temporary. Most of these events need to make money to pay the bills rather than depending on somebody to just come in and lay a bunch of cash on the table because they happen to like a particular category. Those things don’t tend to last.

: Are you familiar with the ADRL, with the way they hand out free tickets to events to get new people into see their show?

GIBBS: Yes, I have heard of that and if it works for them I’d say that’s something individual tracks might look at. You know it’s something new and I’ve known of tracks that are running an NHRA Points events that over the years have done things like that, because those events are primarily funded by entry fees and not large crowds. A lot of tracks have done almost anything they can do put in a large crowd of spectators with some different degree of success. I’ve heard a little about the ADRL and they seem to be doing a pretty good job of things from what I hear. My hat is off to them that they have come up with a formula that works for them. That’s great, I mean that is what this is all about.

The Boise guys (Firebird Raceway) have come up with a great formula for their event. For over twenty years their Nightfire event has grown and prospered. They know how to run the event, and that applies to any track out there. I think we have done the same with the Hot Rod Reunions; we have come up with a formula that works great because it is a combination of racing, social activities, some historical elements, and I think that formula works great. But that’s not to say that it is the answer for Salt Lake City as an example. They need to do their own deal. If that formula works I’m sure other people will pay attention and probably follow suit.