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Just a positive attitude isn’t going to solve the problems
Let’s all hope that the disaster NHRA’s Seattle race was is a one-time thing for NHRA drag racing and Pacific Raceways. Let’s hope that, going forward, not another racer will test NHRA’s emergency stopping system, there’ll be more cars in all of the professional and sportsman classes, the grandstands will have a lot more fans, and the Nielsen numbers for the NHRA broadcasts will soar. Because, dear readers, if the Seattle race is indeed a peek into the future, then the future isn’t looking that good for NHRA drag racing.
I can hear some of you out there already groaning, “There’s Burk going negative again and bashing the NHRA. What is his problem anyway? He said hewasn’t going to do that anymore.”
I’ll tell you what my problem is. Aside from the fact that I LOVE the sport, I and a lot of other people can directly trace our success in business to a successful NHRA. And whether we like it or not, if NHRA drag racing suffers financially then we will too. And that is an inescapable fact.
To be sure, drag racing sanctioning bodies like the ADRL, NMCA, and the IHRA are having some success, but no other drag racing sanctioning body has the number of competitors, fans, sponsors, or level of organization that the NHRA does, and none of them generate the attention and money that the NHRA does.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that drag racing can survive without a healthy NHRA, but its status as a major sport in the U.S. cannot.
The problem the NHRA, its sponsors, and its racers are facing today is, in my opinion, that NHRA racing has become too expensive for all but the wealthiest people to get involved with and be competitive. And even worse, I say that NHRA drag racing has become so damn expensive that most average fans can’t afford three days of tickets. I wrote something to that effect a couple of editorials ago, but it’s worth repeating. The average fan can’t spend three days at an event. It’s too expensive and there are too many other demands on his time. I think more and more people can only afford one day at a National Event.
I also opined that if the Baders or Bruton Smith couldn’t fill their stands, that’s an indication of a serious problems. If the NHRA races at Sonoma, Brainerd and Denver are repeats of Seattle’s dismal crowd and car count, then the NHRA as we have known it might be in serious trouble.