: If that's the case, and you’re right that you have the most interactive major sport, how can you make it even more interactive? Everyone wants a younger demographic to ensure their future. The demographic you’re targeting is one that spends an extraordinary amount of time using devices: cell phones and tablets, using Facebook, Twitter, and other apps. You want to attract them, but then you plop them into an environment that doesn’t always progress quickly. How can you keep them engaged even more?

TC: We're working on just that. We're not resting on our laurels of [having] the third-youngest average fan base at all. We're delving headfirst into the social media space which we embarked on maybe four years ago. Just this year, our Facebook fans have grown 41 percent. Our Twitter followers have gone up by more than 30 percent. Most importantly, if you know anything about Facebook, it's not just the number – it's the level of engagement. How may of those folks that like you are interacting with you? NHRA has an engagement number of 18 percent.

Now, you've got to put that in perspective. NASCAR has an engagement percentage of four percent, the NBA nine percent, the NFL 13 percent, Major League Baseball 11 percent. NHRA – 18. We're the highest level of engagement of any Facebook following. So we're out there. We've invited them to so many different races this year . . . Geno has been heading this up. We hired an outside PR firm to help do this. They're bringing in outside websites that wouldn’t traditionally cover us that are really youth-oriented. They're kind of places kids go to see what's cool, what's popular. And the millions and millions of new people we're reaching through this is phenomenal. We give them rides with Frank Hawley or Doug Foley's two-seat dragster. The testimonials are better than anything we could script. So we're pressing on the gas with that really hard. It's been amazingly successful.

: It's really something fun and fast-changing to keep up with.

TC: We're on it.           

: Did you have a problem earlier this year with the racers needing a prod to promote the series sponsor, Mello Yello?

TC: I think every team out there appreciates the Coca-Cola Company and its brands . . . POWERade, Full Throttle, and Mello Yello . . . I think Mello Yello for a lot of folks was more difficult getting to understand the name, the fit. But Mello Yello has a very rich history in motorsports. The Coca-Cola Company, as you may know, was featured in the movie "Days of Thunder" NASCAR movie. Mello Yello was involved in drag racing, back in the day. So there was a connection to motorsports.

They're re-launching the brand. Basically, it was sitting there, somewhat unattended to. It's very popular in the Southeast, Midwest, but not out here [on the West Coast] as much. So they're trying to build that brand. So far it's been very successful. They've had an increase of seven percent through the first half of the season. For a soft drink that's been around awhile, that's a big number. It's hard to move numbers on mature brands like that. So they're very pleased with that.

I think there could be times when teams are not thinking about what they believe about the importance . . . They're just drinking whatever it is at the time. They're not thinking about it. But I think all the teams really care about Coca-Cola and know it's really important to the sport. And I think when they take a step back and think about it, they will support the brand that Coke has out here. And I think overall that they do.

: Surely every team is grateful for the Coca-Cola Company's involvement with NHRA drag racing. It seemed like you had a stretch during which you had to remind them, "This is your series sponsor." Is that a fair statement?

TC: We have Coke come out to the driver meetings. I talk about it. We're constantly reiterating that to make it top of the mind. It's easy when they're focused on their cars and trying to win races that they're not thinking about the NHRA business side of things. And I don’t expect them to all the time. But wherever I have an opportunity or we have Al Rondon or anyone from the Coca-Cola Company come out and share what they're doing, not just at the racetrack but in the marketplace, it's unprecedented in the sport. All the things they're doing in the marketplace is fantastic. And each year it gets a little better.  

Last year was the introductory year for Mello Yello, and they switched brands at the end of the year so they didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. But this year they did. When you go to races, go out and look at some of the stores – pretty neat what they're doing – and the amount of money they're spending to do that is very, very significant.

: We hear that Coca-Cola is putting an NHRA logo on Mello Yello cans, and that is something it never has done with any sport in which it has been involved. Is that correct?

TC: Got one right here in my office! They don’t do that, and they don’t really sponsor many series, to be honest with you. So that is a bit unprecedented for them. I'm staring at a can right here, and they did a bottle, a 20-ounce bottle, this year, as well.           

GE: The can, just so you understand, is a commemorative can only sold in certain markets.

TC: It's working. That seven-percent increase the first half of the year is strong. The undertaking, the involvement, of that company from the very top – Sandy Douglas, the CEO [He's President, Coca-Cola North America] – from the top brass all the way down are involved in the planning and the execution of what they're doing for the NHRA. And it’s a big deal. And they're spending a tremendous amount of money in the marketplace to try to support, it promote it. And to have a deal now under contract for 17 years – we're locked in to 2018. It's been a fantastic partnership. I can't say enough good things about the folks there. They're very committed, and they're great people. The Lucas family is another good family, and they're locked in through 2018, as well.