What do you see for the future of NHRA sportsman racing especially in light of the fact that NHRA is limiting the number of NHRA national event races that certain sportsman classes can compete at?
WOODY: That's a real bummer for the racers and the spectators. The racers don't get to have that "national event" feeling as much. The spectators don't get to see some of the sport’s future stars as they are growing. Sounds like a lose-lose deal to me. However, I understand that space issues of parking and adding over a handful of hospitality units each year and more spots on the manufacturer midway.
The way I see it is there ARE people that come to an NHRA national event that couldn’t care less about nitro cars. There ARE people that come to watch Stock Eliminator. Our sport has something for EVERYONE and we should embrace it.
The Joyce Julius Company monitors the TV ratings for all motorsports and the numbers for drag racing viewers for the last five years on average has remained stagnant or slightly declined. What is your opinion on why drag racing on TV isn’t more popular?
WOODY: Our sport has a lot of unique opportunities when it comes to TV. The real question is how do you keep the loyal viewers you have and attract new ones? This is
I think a good mix would be to break into an ESPN show and pick one LIVE final round from any of the professional classes. Build it up like it's bigger than life and make the people that wouldn't normally be watch drag racing feel like they are missing something. Rotate among all of the professional classes, give everyone love -- whatever the final is, it has to have a story that can hook the viewer and get them to tune in.
Speaking of figures, what is your feeling about the NHRA printing attendance figures for tracks that have seating for maybe 15-20,000 spectators publishing attendance figures of over 100,000 fans for a three-day race. Do you think that sponsors and Corporate America believe those numbers?
WOODY: Nailing down the spectator count at an event has got to be almost impossible. There are people throughout the pit areas and the manufacturer midway at every event even when the professional cars are running the final rounds. If Corporate America is serious about being involved in our sport they will come to an event and see it with their own eyes and experience it for themselves. If you are going to jump in the water as a company you will spend the time to do the research.
Do you have a good working relationship with the NHRA management and would you say they are responsive to the needs of the sponsors? Do they treat everyone equally?
WOODY: I have a good working relationship with the NHRA management team. I think as a whole they respect me and the company I work for. Don't get me wrong, I have been involved with my fair share of disagreements that have been extremely heated at times. I am extremely passionate about what I do and whom I do it for. Sometimes I wish the members of the management team had more vested history in the sport and were more passionate about the sport. It's not always a line item approach that works in this sport. I try and use the rule of "treating people the way I want to be treated." I have found that if you take the time to put yourself in the other people’s shoes you answer a lot of questions that avoid problems or misinterpretations.
What is your favorite professional class?
WOODY: Pro Stock, it's the class I know the most about and I have some great memories.
If you had to attend a drag race and buy your own ticket and you had to choose between a race with just nitro-burning cars or one with just gasoline and alky, which one would you buy a ticket to see?
WOODY: Those are two different animals that I like, but gasoline and alky would rise to the top for me.