A GAME OF CHANCE

A game of chance? Isn’t that what drag racing is anymore? This wasn’t my idea so if there is any backlash you can blame Scott Hall (oh, did I type that out loud? Too bad). But it really is a funny idea. With the Phoenix race cancelled/postponed (whatever you want to call it), it leaves 21 other national events which may or may not happen. Fill in your Bingo card when another race cancels as the year progresses and the winner receives… absolutely nothing. Sorry.

With the NHRA 2021 Camping World schedule out, many had the thoughts of it being more a wish list than anything else. Last year’s schedule sort of proved that theory. Regardless of the event, it was almost becoming a fact of having to make a phone call before the race to see if it really was going to happen.

Probably the most affected races were those NHRA national events along with some selected Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisionals. Some of the other events, such as the PDRA’s and big bracket events may have had their schedules rocked around, but for the most part, they were very well attended by participants. Fans are an entirely different story. The business model of the NHRA relies heavily on fan attendance and in areas where attendance at an event is severely limited, it makes attempting to turn a profit difficult.

Based on events around the country this past winter, this racing season may also be more of the same. While the big show may suffer, many of the smaller races, like last year, should be just as healthy. Racers want to race and that was proven. I expect more of the same this year.

I’ve also spoken about at least three independent events which will feature high dollar racing for the Stock and Super Stock classes. Events like that have been lacking, leaving those competitors the only place to race being the national events, and the big dollars just aren’t there anymore. While the actual cash purse paid out is minimal for a win, the majority of the money earned comes from contingency/sponsorship decals and that number is dwindling as sponsors are finding the ROI (Return On Investment) isn’t there as much as it used to be. The glut of high dollar bracket races may have been envious of the Stock and Super Stock crowd, but the promoters of those new events are only trying to give back to the racers. At those events, the money posted is exactly what a racer would walk out the gate with. While there are some contingency deals at those racers, it is minimal so far. It’ll remain to be seen just how successful they are.

My only concern with those is what has seemingly happened to bracket racing on the local level. Although, I’m not as concerned about what happens to attendance at national events as I believe they already have plenty on their plates to overcome any loss of sportsman cars.

No, I believe what transpired on the local level is a drop in car counts. You can correct me if you believe I’m wrong about this but the closing of some tracks may be tied to this fact. Truth is, it’s my belief that a racer may be more inclined to save the $50-$60-or whatever the entry fee of a local bracket race and put it towards the higher entry fee of a high dollar race, enabling them to race for more money.

Could that same scenario take place amongst the Stock and Super Stock crowd? I don’t see that happening in the short term. In fact, the entry list of the first national event on the NHRA schedule, the Gatornationals in March, was filled almost as quick as the pre-entry date came.

The long term may be a different story, but for now, “racers just want to race.”