News & Analysis

The NHRA 2018 Tax Return


By Jeff Burk

The 2016, 2017 and now the 2018 NHRA tax returns prove that Peter Clifford has made the NHRA the stable and “profitable” not-for-profit auto racing league that it was prior to the Tom Compton era. Going through the most recently released tax return is just not the entertaining revealing exercise it once was.


During the Compton era the NHRA often spent way more money than it took in but despite that the NHRA Board continued to vote themselves gigantic salaries and raises and spend money like a drunken sailor on the NHRA ESPN/FOX TV programs. At one time then president of the board of directors, Dallas Gardner, was paid $400,000 a year for working one hour a day according to the tax return. NHRA spent $10-12,000,000 a year on producing TV for the series. Almost everyone with the word “president” in their job title was getting annual raises in the $40-50,000 range.


But, under the guidance of CEO Peter Clifford and President Glen Cromwell the 2018 NHRA tax return has few surprises. In 2016 the NHRA gross revenues were $95.1 million, in 2017 they were $94.7 and in 2018 $97.0. During those three reporting years NHRA went from $3.6 million in debt in 2016 to a surplus of $1.5 million in 2018.


Looking at the pay for the executives of the NHRA in the 2018 return shows that president Peter Clifford didn’t get a pay raise and the rest of the executives and board members got cost of living raises. The only thing that might raise any eyebrows is that in addition to the $500,000 former president Tom Compton received in 2017 he was given another $200,000 in 2018.


Some non-revenue related information the tax return reveals is that the NHRA membership remained basically the same in 2018, as did the prize money paid ($23+ million).


It would appear from reviewing the last three years of NHRA tax returns that no major changes are likely to happen to the structure of the NHRA. Peter Clifford seems to be a CEO who doesn’t fix things that aren’t broke. And these days from a financial point of view the NHRA definitely isn’t broken. 









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