Price Wars

Teams across the major sports leagues – and even the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- have cut ticket prices to jump-start attendance in an economy that has dropped a bunch of cylinders.

Tom Compton says that’s not the right business model for NHRA.

“As opposed to reducing ticket prices, I believe NHRA needs to creatively work with event sponsors to develop promotional ticket campaigns to drive traffic to sponsor locations and products in exchange for discounted access to the event,” said the NHRA president.

“In addition, NHRA needs to better communicate and promote the current value we offer when attending an event. Relatively speaking, our prices are still very competitive in comparison to other motorsports and entertainment choices faced by the consumer. We are the only major motorsports that affords fans a pit pass with every ticket and a carnival-like atmosphere at an event that is second to none.”

I had hoped to discuss the Business of Racing with Compton at last November’s Auto Club Finals, but had to leave Pomona early. And, as NHRA’s PR VP Jerry Archambeault noted, “Tom is one busy man.” So Archambeault arranged an Email exchange in the following weeks.

Since then, IRL, ALMS, NASCAR’s Truck series and even Formula One (Oh, Bernie!) have lost dates due to the financial downturn. Compton wrote that the full 24-event Full Throttle schedule is a Go.

“NHRA has no plans to cancel any races and we are comfortable with our sponsorship situation in 2009.

“For many sponsors, the geographic diversity of our schedule is a great selling point when it comes to leveraging a sponsorship nationwide . . . (we have) events in cities where other major motorsports don’t currently visit like the metropolitan New York area, the northwest United States, and the Rocky Mountain area, to name a few.”