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I think I have figured out why the Friday crowds at NHRA events and other major motorsports events just aren’t what they used to be. I’d say that if a person is fortunate enough to have a good job these days, chances are they aren’t going to ask for or take a day off to go to a race. No Friday race shows should start before 8 p.m.
Is anyone else as confused as I am that the management of the NHRA and their national event track partners can’t seem to grasp the fact that for most casual drag racing fans everything -- including groceries, gas, and tickets to sporting events -- is too expensive? Yet the sanctioning body suits keep trying to find ways to get more money from the already financially stressed fans and the sportsman racers.
Don’t think fewer fans are buying tickets to sports events? Consider this little tidbit: You can often buy a $5 ticket to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball home game (depending upon who they are playing) and that pricing promotion is common at other major league parks. What a concept! If you can’t sell enough tickets then lower the ticket prices! Hello, racing promoters, is anyone listening or paying attention?
Please don’t tell me that $4-5 a gallon fuel isn’t affecting the car and spectator count at all national event-type races. At the NHRA Houston race there were just thirteen entries each in the Alky Funny and Dragster classes, eighteen in Nitro Funny Car and just about 100 entries total in Stock and Super Stock. Both the NHRA race at Houston and the Byron (Ill.) Spring Nationals were visibly down from previous years in spectator attendance. If non-professional racers have to budget $500 to $1,000 just in fuel expenses, they will think twice about going to an event. Ditto for the fan that might spend $100 for gas to get to the track. The promoters had better figure out a way to give the fans and racers some relief or plan on this trend continuing. The economy may be getting better, but it hasn’t trickled down past the boardrooms yet.
Despite the issues the major circuits are facing on the local level, drag racing seems to be more popular than ever. At DRO we get results from 30-40 small, independent circuits for hobby racers that keep the amount of travelling for their racers down to three or four hours. The ticket for one of these events is generally $20 or less and often the racers don’t have to pay an entry fee. Some track owners tell me their car count is down but their spectator count is up on weekly events.
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