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Clearing out a cluttered Reporter’s Notebook

I was on the phone the other day with a track owner and the conversation got around (as it always seems to) to the business of  NHRA drag racing. This person related to me that he had been told by another NHRA track operator that, aside from the Phoenix races, over the last 12 months NHRA national events were down 10 percent or more in ticket sales.

I think part of the problem is that, like NASCAR, the entertainment NHRA is selling is overpriced for a lot of folks. With the price of gas approaching $5.00 a gallon in some areas and the increased cost of everything else, an NHRA national event ticket starting at around $40 is pretty expensive. I believe now more than ever, at any race at least some tickets have to be offered for a price under $25 for the average race fans to be able to afford the sport. Money is still just too tight.

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You may have noticed that the exec hired to be NHRA’s director of advertising and promotions late in 2011 resigned the job before the first race of the 2012 season. Just for the record, that person had little or no experience in the motorsports industry when he was hired by the NHRA. Now the NHRA has hired his replacement and she too apparently does not have ANY work in the motorsports industry on her resume!

One of the major management problems the NHRA has is that to my knowledge none of the upper-level management team has ever owned a race track or race team, or promoted a race with their own money at risk. That makes it very difficult for them to relate to the problems of a self-funded race team, track operator or race promoter.

Is it surprising the NHRA couldn’t find one person on the NHRA payroll to take the advertising job?

So, they hired a person with a directive to sell more tickets to NHRS events. Well, folks, her resume includes working with the Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team and Sesame Street Live on ice.

So, let me sum up. A woman with no drag racing experience gets hired by a management team with no ownership experience in drag racing to increase sales and attract new fans to drag racing. A fan/racer base that probably knows a lot more about the sport than she does -- and don’t like the way the sport is going. You talk about getting thrown to the wolves!

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In the past I’ve lamented the lack of sportsman racers at NHRA national events as a sign of how the expense of racing was keeping some racers from the track. Knowledgeable friends of mine informed me, and I verified, that the number of sportsman entries at NHRA national events is determined by the amount of parking area available and grade points.

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