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Let us start this attempt at Pulitzer-winning journalism with some good about drag racing. In short, NHRA has done a hell of a job. When you put all the pieces in place it is hard to argue that the turnaround has been magnificent. You can't argue that the TV numbers are up. Fox has delivered. Their ability to promote the NHRA brand through all of the Fox platforms has been great. Overall I would say attendance is up. There are still a few stinkers but the overall guide to greatness is, did you sell more tickets than you did the previous year? Yes, they did. One of the guides I used when I was President of IHRA was how were our ticket sales compared to other forms of entertainment; as a measure of were they up or down. One of the most accurate guides was the Fair business. When the fairs did good attendance-wise pretty much so did the IHRA events. What makes the NHRA numbers so remarkable is the fair business is way down, yet NHRA is up.
So there are three things to remember going into 2017. TV numbers are a slave to what the lead-in program has to offer. If you follow NASCAR you are going to look like a genius. If you follow skateboarding, the numbers will dive. Don't rubber stamp what you just did. Always wake up each morning and ask yourself, "How do we sell one more ticket?" And lastly, remember drag racing is a team sport. The success of NHRA is not an individual accomplishment. It is a team accomplishment. Well done.
I am an eternal optimist. When there is a 90% chance of rain I believe that there is still a solid 10% chance of sunshine. That is why it pains me to say, "IHRA is done." One does not have to be an insider to understand that the current leadership is in deep, deep trouble. I will admit that I was intrigued by the International concept. The problem is, someone has to act. To my knowledge no venues have been booked. Not a single top fuel team has committed to the program. Not a dollar’s worth of sponsorship has been secured. And a plan to take it to market is nonexistent.
Oh, by the way, from a time element they are about a year behind. I can only imagine that the funding of IHRA will be stopped cold turkey within days if not weeks. What that does is leave an opening for sportsman drag racing which has always thrived despite the national-event woes. I would fully expect someone to pick up the pieces and run with it, only, and I repeat only, if Summit Racing keeps their involvement level at the same pace. The good news is when IHRA breathes its last breath I have several closets full of IHRA uniforms that instantly become priceless heirlooms instead of colorful dust cloths.
The internet is still a cesspool when it comes to drag racing. I am very aware of our first amendment rights, but the right to speak freely must be tempered by some level of intelligence. It is shocking to read something that you know has no truth to it what so ever. And there is nothing you can do about.
One example is drag racing accidents. When an accident happens everyone becomes an expert. People who possess a graduation diploma from Miss Pringles Day School suddenly become PhD's on medical issues, track prep issues, car construction issues, and driving issues despite the fact that probably 99% of them did not see the incident first hand. In this got-to-have-it-now world, information is power. The more information you have the more you are perceived to be an expert regardless of the validity of the info.
So, before you speak or write remember that “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought of the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”