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I believe that despite NHRA president-for-life Tom Compton’s failed attempt to sell the NHRA a few years back, he is still trying to get that job done. I just don’t see that scenario happening anytime soon.
Really, nothing has changed since Compton failed in his attempt to sell the NHRA pro classes to a venture capital group headed by Eddie Hartenstein and later reportedly rejected a trial balloon offer of 80 million dollars from the Bruton Smith group. According to the NHRA’s own publicly available federal tax returns the NHRA as a business lost money three out of the last four years and when it did finally make money in 2012, the profit margin represented about three percent of the NHRA’s gross income. Not too many - if any - venture capital companies are going to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars hoping for a return on investment of three or four percent. They can do better than that buying no-risk government bonds.
Having said that, extremely knowledgeable sources tell me that earlier this year, before the season began, a group of current and ex-NHRA team owners and industry businessmen requested and eventually got a meeting with NHRA management. What exactly was discussed I don’t have a clue, but there are certainly enough wealthy businessmen involved and invested in the NHRA that could afford to buy it.
My question would be why would they? There is a long history of wealthy businessmen investing and losing their money in auto racing both by participating and investing in racing series.
Among the “perks” that the NHRA Pro Mod racers group lobbied the NHRA for was that instead of having their first round of Eliminations on Saturday night they wanted to have their first round of Eliminations Sunday just like the rest of the professional classes. I understand the NHRA told the group they would run them on Sunday if they could, so at the Gatornationals the NHRA management kept their word and the Pro Mods ran first round of Eliminations on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the first round on Sunday was at 9:30 a.m. and I’ll bet there were only a couple of thousand fans in the stands to watch. In my opinion the Pro Mod racers would be better off if they ran Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. These days NHRA’s crowds are generally better Saturday than Sunday, and there are damn sure more fans in the stands Saturday night than there are 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I suggest the Pro Mod group think about using social media to promote the fact that the only professional Eliminations that fans can see on Saturday is the first round of Pro Modified.
The Gators might have been the best test of pro drivers’ and tuners’ skills that I have seen in a couple of decades. Low qualifier in nitro coupe Cruz Pedregon said it best: “This isn’t one of those tracks where you can just unload and throw everything in the trailer at it. It’s a tricky track.”
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