A few thoughts between drinking hot toddies and shivering in the Heartland

It took me about ten minutes after I started reading about Friday’s first laps from Pomona on Drag Race Central to realize I wished I were there instead of sitting in ridiculously freakin’ cold St. Louis. C’mon, Rick Green, gimme more info faster, please. Based on what I was reading I could not wait to watch the ESPN Saturday broadcast. And ESPN didn’t disappoint.

Ron Capps’ fiery first qualifying lap was the essence of nitro racing for me. But then I cop to like watching a bad fast hot rod have the occasional explosion and fire (as long as no one gets seriously hurt). Part of the attraction of racing or watching racing is knowing a driver/team is wringing every bit they can out of the car, knowing they are right on the edge of disaster and doing it anyway. I also saw a slew of three-ninety Nitro Coupes, three-seventy Fuelers, and watched 64-year-old John Force set an ET record and never hurt a part.

My point here is the Winternationals had all the ingredients for a great race. Sunday’s race lived up to the hype and was, by any standards, a great race.  

So, my question is, where were the fans? It had been about three months since the last NHRA national event.  I don’t think there has been a rise in the price of tickets and the weather may not have been ideal for fans, but was certainly perfect for record performances. Where were the fans? My question (and I suspect the NHRA’s too) is, what will get NHRA drag racing fans to buy a ticket? Judging from the lack of fan attendance at Pomona, it isn’t great speeds, ETs, qualifying or racing.  

Just Wondering… Based upon the sparse crowds at the Winternationals -- which, sadly, is continuing a trend of fewer fans in all motorsports the last couple of years -- is the only real tool  the NHRA series has to offer professional teams seeking corporate sponsors the ESPN TV broadcast?   

Just Wondering… Will the NHRA PR department try to take advantage of Bahrain’s Khalid al Balooshi winning Top Fuel at Pomona for Al-Anabi Racing of Qatar? I’d hope they would inundate the news bureaus in that part of the world with the info and photos and make a big deal out of his Winternationals win to help demonstrate that NHRA drag racing is a worldwide sport.

Just Wondering… If the IRG owners of the IHRA are really serious about rejuvenating that sanctioning body and its brand by bringing racers, fans and especially sponsors back to that series, shouldn’t they spend whatever it takes to get the IHRA race on TV on the same day it happens?  NHRA spends about $13-14 million a year for the ESPN contract. I’d bet IRG could get a network to cover the IHRA for 12 events for a quarter of that price.

Just Wondering… Why hasn’t the NHRA management team changed anything about their racing program, ticket price structure or TV show for the 2014 season? I guess they figured if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it. But here’s a hint, guys: If the first race of the season in your hometown and biggest market can’t attract a full house of either fans or racers after basically a three-month hiatus, then something is broken, isn’t it?

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