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I am a glass half full person. I make it a point to look at the positive things in life because dwelling on the negative is just counter productive to life itself. But lately I have been troubled because this piece of entertainment called drag racing has lost its mojo somewhere along the line. It isn’t just an NHRA, IHRA, PDRA or AHRA (Aaron’s Hot Rod Association) thing. It’s a plague on everyone’s house. How’s that for a biblical/drag racing reference? Since my rule is you can’t bitch unless you offer a solution, here are my random Captain Morgan-aided thoughts at 5:28 a.m. on a Friday.
First let’s take a look at the 800 pound gorilla -- NHRA. Here is what I would do on the short term.
- Drop ESPN as soon as the contract runs out and make a deal with NBC, CBS, ABC or FOX. They have to make a time buy anyway so why not go where the big dogs run? Would you like to be in a Sunday time slot before the NFL or Men’s College Lacrosse? This has certainly worked for the Supercross and Pro Bull Riders franchises.
- Do a one-hour show with live finals if possible. Give them God in 60 minutes. Beyond the 60-minute mark you are just asking the viewer to channel chase.
- Make the pro fields eight cars with a limit of one car per team. Take the purse savings and reinvest it in more advertising and marketing and, most importantly, VALUE PRICING.
- Drop the five worst markets and limit national events to one per market. The carrot has to remain attractive to the donkey.
- Get off the diversity bandwagon. Is it cool to have that kind of diversity? You bet. I loved it when Antron Brown won the Top Fuel World Championship but NHRA got slammed because they didn’t do enough to promote an African-American World Champion. Very unfair. The truth is that on a world stage having diversity has been around for a long time. How can Antron compete for PR time against someone like Usain Bolt? How can all the great NHRA female athletes compete for recognition against the girls on the Olympic Gymnastics Team? Playing the diversity card will not work in drag racing because it has already been done on a much bigger stage. Move on.
- Did I mention VALUE PRICING?
- The same actions will produce the same results. Test market in a couple of markets if you fear going all in, but for goodness' sakes don’t think the problems will cure themselves. They won’t.
Now for the IHRA. Since being the president of this company for 10 years gives me an insider’s perspective, I can tell you that they have their own set of issues.
- Don’t lose sight that the #1 priority has to be SPORTSMAN RACING. It is not only the backbone of the company, it is the one that has the highest degree of profit potential vs. risk.
- Be very careful about touting “real racing.” There are dozens of examples spanning a quarter of a century where “real racing” can be substituted for “financial calamity.” I maintain that no one in the history of drag racing has made a dime presenting “real racing.” However, a lot of people have amassed fortunes presenting drag racing entertainment.
- The idea of accumulating company-owned venues is a wonderful idea if they are priced right, but the flaw is that you must have people with very unique skill sets to run them. These people simply do not exist. You are only as good as your staff.
- Don’t burn out good people. Scott Gardner and Skooter Peaco are outstanding individuals and savvy drag racing business men. Stress kills, and family must come first.
THINGS TO PONDER
- Considering all the lint you get in the dryer, if you kept drying your clothes would they eventually just disappear?
- Why do older men wear pants higher than younger men?
- Why do people run over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it back down to give the vacuum one last chance?
- Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?