After touching upon the issue of television and ratings, let’s do a little math this week. First, some numbers for you to play with. The cost to run a competitive Pro Stock car, per Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman earlier this season when talking about the shortfall for defending champion Erica Enders‘ car, is $1.5 to $2 million at least. Obviously for a Nitro car, it’s more, bur for this example, let’s just focus on that Pro Stock number.
The winner in Pro Stock at an NHRA national event gets $25,000. It’s $50,000 for the Nitro guys if you were wondering, but for now, again, staying on the Pro Stock track. The champion gets $250,000 ($500,000 in Nitro). So if a driver were to win all 24 events, they would earn $600,000. If they also won the championship, that would bring it up to $850,000. For fun, let’s say they also won the K&N Horsepower Challenge too, for another $50,000, and since they won the race that weekend as well, add in another $25,000 bonus for the sweep. That makes it $925,000. But this is IF they won every race and the bonus event and the championship, and realistically, no one is going to do that.
Still, there is sponsorship to cover the rest. Find a sponsor to put its name on the car. It’s advertising for them so it’s a great deal! More numbers coming at you. NHRA elimination broadcasts average about a half million viewers each. The 2015 Super Bowl had over 114 million viewers. A 30-second ad during the game cost $4.5 million. Heck, you could sponsor two Pro Stock cars for that amount, right? Except that amount delivered 114 million unique eyes for 30 seconds.
Do you see the problem? Return on investment is the name of the game and how many viewers are tuning in is a big part of the equation. At a half million viewers per event, you’d have to have 228 NHRA broadcasts to deliver the same exposure, and that’s if the car appeared clearly on camera for 30 seconds during each. That’s overlooking the fact that the half million viewers are probably not unique viewers, but mostly the same ones each race.
On another related note, the commentary in this space last week about the ESPN television coverage struck a bit of a chord. One comment said that NHRA fans get hosed by ESPN on a regular basis. With that in mind, fair warning that NHRA viewers are, as that reader put it, getting hosed once again this weekend. Originally scheduled for a 9 to midnight slot, already a push for those getting up for work on Monday, coverage has been moved to a 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot. Why did it get pushed back? College baseball. I’m just going to leave that here. Do with it what you want.
* Rhode Island native Bob Tasca, III announced he will return to NHRA Funny Car action for the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, NH, next weekend. Tasca will have primary sponsorship from PPG for the event; he also ran at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in March.
“For NHRA fans in New England, this is the race of the year, and I’m thrilled to be racing in the New England national event,” said Tasca. “”There are so many Tasca/Ford fans in New England that my family did not want to let them down.”
* Top Fuel driver Antron Brown is hoping to get his milestone 50th victory (33 in Top Fuel and 16 in Pro Stock Motorcycle) this weekend at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. It would make him just the 10th driver to reach the 50 wins mark and would be especially significant if it happened this weekend for the New Jersey native.
Driver of the Week: Larry Morgan
Category: Pro Stock
Hometown: Utica, Ohio
Date of birth: November 21, 1954
2015 car: FireAde Chevrolet Camaro
Crew chief: Nick Morgan
Team Owner: Diane Morgan
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 11/23
Best points finish: 3rd (1989, 1991)
Career best ET: 6.464, Charlotte 1, 2015
Career best speed: 214.52, Charlotte 1, 2015
2015 – Scored first win since 2009 at the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
2013 – Qualified for all 24 races.
2009 – Won at Sonoma, his first win since 2002.
2004 – Finished in top five in points, his first top-five points finish since 1993.
2002 – Won at Sonoma, his first win since 1994.
1989, 1990, 1992 – Won K&N Horsepower Challenge three times in four years.
Some Things Most People Don’t Know About Larry: Larry made his first start in Pro Stock at Pomona 1 in 1987. He will reach a huge milestone this weekend in Englishtown, when he becomes just the third driver to reach 600 starts in NHRA drag racing. He actually got his first car when he was just 12 years-old, as payment of a $20 debt owed to him by the owner of a garage where he’d been sweeping floors. The car was not quite finished but Morgan knew how to weld and completed it so he could do burnouts. He began his actual racing career at his local drag strip when he was 16.
That’s Just Crazy!
Lot’s of crazy things happen to race car drivers at the race track, both on the track and in the pits. This week Matt Hagan talks about some of the more unusual things that have happened to him.
This weekend the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series is also on track at Englishtown. One thing that makes this very popular class interesting is the options available for additional power. In the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, the engines use superchargers for an extra boost. Pro Stock cars do not use any extra system, they run on just pure engine. Pro Mod cars on the other hand come with several options. They can use superchargers like Top Fuel and Funny Cars, or they can opt for turbochargers instead. They can even opt for nitrous oxide systems. Which one is best? There’s all sorts of debate on this topic, but there are teams using all of them in the category so it’s hard to say if any have a clear advantage. Mostly it comes down to what a driver is comfortable with it would seem. One final note, don’t confuse nitrous oxide with nitromethane (Nitro for short), the fuel Top Fuel and Funny Cars run on. They aren’t the same thing.
Number of the Week: 1965
The year that Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, usually just known as Englishtown, opened. The NHRA first visited the facility in 1968.
Where to Watch
NHRA drag racing returns to action this weekend, June 4th through 7th for the Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. If you like your drag racing extra fast, don’t miss this one. This track tends to see some of the best times and speeds of the year. Please note that the broadcast time has been changed from what was listed last week.
Program Date/Time Channel AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS Qualifying Friday, November 10, 6:30 PM ET FS1 (Live) Qualifying Saturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ET FS1 (Live) Eliminations Sunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ET FS1 (Live)