Clearing out my cluttered notebook

One of my sources in the TV industry recently sent me the latest Nielsen ratings for the first 2010 NHRA ESPN2 broadcasts and the only way you can describe the rating numbers is shocking.

For the first thirteen races of the season, the average number of households watching the NHRA eliminations averages just under .5 of a point (A point represents 1,000,000 households, bars, etc.), and the qualifying shows are averaging a rating of just over .3. About the only good news is that so far each of the four half-hour Pro Mod shows have drawn a .2 rating with one drawing a .3, and those aren’t bad ratings for a single class.

The only problem is that the number of households that the broadcasts are getting to are down to a third or more of what they were in 2002-2007, the last years we got a look at the NHRA’s Nielsen ratings. Just as a point of reference, in 2002 NHRA averaged a 2.0+ rating per event, in 2004 a 1.54 rating, and in 2007 a 1.76.

If this kind of slide doesn’t set off the alarm bells at NHRA headquarters in Glendora with the PRO members and the sponsors that something has to change, then nothing will. Something has to happen and soon!

Three things regarding the current safety issues of the NHRA keep me awake some nights:

1. NHRA should be working on a softer catch net for vehicles that go off the end of their tracks, not a reinforced, braced, chain-link barrier.

2. Why, with all of the rule changes that NHRA could have made that would absolutely slow down the nitro cars, hasn’t former Don Schumacher crew chief and NHRA nitro cop Dan Olson yet adopted any of the obvious ones?

3. Shouldn’t NHRA be more concerned with developing better braking systems to get cars stopped instead of developing devices to deploy parachutes, shut-off fuel and ignition after a malfunction, and stop a 300-mph  car in 300 feet or less?

NHRA’s race fans love the honest and off-the-cuff remarks that John Force is known to make. But when he is doing just that and expresses an opinion they disagree with, suddenly they just want him to just “shut up and race.”

You can’t have it both ways, folks. Either John is spontaneous and irreverent or he just becomes another talking head. I’ll take the real John Force over a PC John Force any day

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