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Nitro Shots: Why Is Drag Racing Such a Hard Sell?

I’m going to throw my staffmates under the bus today, but it’s necessary to prove my points. I apologize in advance, and I’ll even throw myself under there too just to show there’s no hard feelings. There are one or two other staff members here at Frontstretch who understand how awesome drag racing is. There are one or two other who are curious, but haven’t really jumped in and gone to a race yet for whatever reason. And then there is the rest of the group.

No matter how much I sweeten the pot they just won’t have it. No matter how much I talk up how great the sport is, how exciting, how there’s just nothing like it they won’t give it a try. Sure, it can be confusing and maybe overwhelming. I tried to offer to walk them through it myself, or at the very least make sure they are well taken care of by some of my colleagues if I can’t do it myself. No dice.

I’ve tried to entice them with the biggest drivers in the sport, assuring them that the access is amazing. If you want to talk to John Force, you can talk to John Force. He’s not hiding in a hauler or a motorhome all weekend. It doesn’t matter if you are fans or media, you can talk to John Force if you want to. He’ll make sure of it. Still nothing. No bites. They just won’t have it. No matter what I put on the table they just aren’t interested in drag racing.

It’s frustrating but it’s understandable…to a point. I was the same once. It was a friend’s extra ticket and a weekend with nothing better to do that got me to the strip for the first time. The rest is history. Before that, however, I turned my nose up at drag racing too. I had no interest. I’d been offered the chance to go before and I’d turned it down.

Why is this sport, with so much to offer, such a hard sell? It’s not even like I’m trying to sell it to people who hate cars or motorsports. I could understand if that were the case. I hate basketball and no amount of selling me on it is getting me to a game because there is zero positive connection for me. I’m talking about people who think NASCAR is the greatest thing ever. Some of them even like other motorsports that aren’t NASCAR, but nope, not drag racing.

Viewership since NHRA moved to FOX Sports is up, so the network has apparently figured out some secret to pulling in the uninitiated so it’s not impossible. I was once the uninitiated, so it’s not impossible. Of the few who I have gotten to come with me, none have ever had a bad experience. In fact, they loved it. I don’t know that they stuck with it, but they at least knew that it existed and that it was a good thing. I’d settle for that.

The key is getting them to the track. I feel sure they’d change their minds if I could just convince them to try it out once. However, getting them to the track is not only the key, but also the trick. It’s harder than it should be, and in this case we’re talking about people who would attend as media and wouldn’t even have to pay for admission. It’s free, other than travel and transportation, and I still can’t get any takers. That’s what worries me.

Hey Y’All, Watch This

Everyone was probably pulling for Tommy Johnson, Jr. in Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish car last weekend, but it was teammate Ron Capps who prevailed for his sixth win of the season. Capps dedicated the win to Chandler.

While Capps was tallying up win number six, Pro Stock racer Drew Skillman was earning his first Wally of the year. He’s the ninth different driver to win in Pro Stock this season.

NHRA on TV

ProgramDate/TimeChannel
NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS
QualifyingFriday, September 15, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSunday, September 17, 2:00 AM ETFS1
EliminationsSunday, September 17, 2:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni freelances with both writing and web design in North Carolina.

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4 comments

  1. Not particularly a fan of drag racing, I watch it primarily for the personalities. Just about every one of the drag racers have a dynamic and outgoing personality – not like some of the snoozers in NASCAR. Have also never heard of NHRA fining a driver for expressing an opinion! If thy did John Force would be bankrupt and broke!!

    • I’m thinking strapping yourself into an 11,000 hp vehicle gets you pretty jazzed up where your after race interview is pretty dynamic. Met John Force at the Dallas airport headed for Orange County and he was the nicest, low keyed person around. Toni’s article was about if you haven’t been to a race, you need to go. And if you’ve been, welcome brother! Hope to see you at a race somewhere.

  2. Great article. I watch the NHRA more than NASCAR. I like the fact the broadcast team does a great job calling the action and describing things without dumbing them down.

  3. Great article Toni! I’ve given up on NASCAR and have gone to the NHRA. Everytime I’ve been, I’ve met and talked to John Force, talked to Ron Capps on why he packs his own chute, talk to Leah and Antron why they were draining and testing the fuel out of their own car , to Matt Hagan signing connecting rods out of his car for kids ,to dozens of girls lined up to have their picture taken with Brittany, Ashely, or Alexis including my daughter. Truly they appreciate their fans. Then there is nothing better than bringing a newbie to the race to feel the thunder for the first time! Keep trying. Thanks.