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So I’m thinking maybe the NHRA and many of their national event track partners really don’t care if they increase the fan base. I have been at a loss trying to comprehend why the NHRA and their track partners balk at the thought of lowering ticket prices to increase the crowds. Now I think maybe I have the answer. NHRA prez Tom Compton has drastically reduced the operating overhead of the NHRA -- the sanctioning body’s tax returns prove that is a fact. If that cost cutting also means it costs NHRA and the national event tracks less to produce a national event then they need to sell fewer tickets to make a profit, right?
What if they’re making a reasonable profit with the status quo and don’t want or need to spend the advertising/education money to hook a new generation on drag racing? Am I the only hardcore fan that feels like the NHRA has done little in the last decade to make attending races easier and more affordable for families? They talk a lot about fan interviews and surveys dictating what they do, but the only thing I can see they and their track partners have done is to maintain or increase the cost of attending the events in the areas of tickets, parking, food and beverages.
I think the NHRA and their track partners have come to the same conclusion that NASCAR has: they aren’t going to be able to increase attendance in fans or competitors so in order to maintain profitability they are trying to make their remaining fan-base maintain the profit margin. After all NHRA drag racing just isn’t the “only game in town” any more. No matter what type of racing you want to see, what type of cars you like or fuel you want them to burn, fans and racers have more choices than any time in the history of the sport. The fact is I think the sport is healthier than it has ever been. If there is a problem it is the same that all entertainment industries face. Their fans have too many options and choices.
The NHRA continues struggling to fill their 25,000+ seat speed palaces like Pomona, Gainesville, and Las Vegas despite paying (for drag racing) big purses to the very best corporate-sponsored nitro and 500-inch Pro Stock racers in the world and the benefit of televising their races the same weekend on a major network (ESPN).
On the other hand, the re-invented IHRA so far this season has filled their medium (5,000-15,000 seat) sized tracks. The IHRA pays its racers a reasonable purse, offers their fans three classes of nitro including Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds and Nitro Harleys, and as a bonus 800+ inch Mountain Motor Pro Stocks -- and all of the teams are part-time hobby racers.
The most expensive seat for an IHRA race is about $30 while the most expensive ticket for an NHRA event can approach $300. The IHRA races are two-day affairs and NHRA is three or four.
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