If the current stories about NASCAR, along with the previous sale of F1 doesn’t get you thinking a little bit, that might be an issue in itself.
I am sure that you have seen all over the internet today that the majority ownership of NASCAR, which is privately owned, is looking at selling the entity to another owner. Sources have stated that they are looking for a firm to try and find a buyer for NASCAR. In 2016, the most expensive motorsports body, Formula One was sold to a media company called Liberty Media. This is a media group that also owns SirusXM Radio and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with drag racing, so here we go.
A long time ago, motorsports bodies, race tracks, speed shops, and parts manufacturers were owned by people that had a vested interested in the sport itself. These companies were run by racers, the tracks were owned by racers, and the sanctioning bodies were run by racers or at least people that cared about racing. That was a long time ago though. For the most part, we have series that are owned by investment groups, tracks that are owned by investment groups or real estate groups, speed shops are far and few in between now, and we have parts manufactures that are run by MBA grads that have no real interest in the sport we love. They are too busy looking at their quarterly reports, and spending money on items that don’t help increase their brand awareness.
Quickly we in the industry are seeing lower television ratings, less asses in the seats, and overall a decrease in positive exposure. Notice I didn’t say overall exposure, I said a decrease in positive exposure. Too many times I read about or hear about on Monday that the race wasn’t great, the track prep wasn’t great, the audience was small, and so many other negatives instead of the actual positives.
Is this a generational issue, or is this just the way business is done now? Many companies have made their way onto social media and relied on it to get the word out about their product, yet they have put someone in charge of doing this that has no idea what their actual key demographic is. So, we start missing the boat with getting the exposure we need to the demographic we need to reach. If motorsports in America is going to survive the long haul, whether it be NASCAR, INDY, NHRA, PDRA, NMCA, NMRA, IMSA, etc, we need to be reaching the youth. The 13-25 demographic, yes I did in fact say 13, which you should really be shooting for younger, but the fact is that if you are constantly fighting against video games, we will continue to fall and lose market share to everything else.
As much as it pains me to say this, as most of you know how I feel about this, Street Outlaws and their platform, as well as no prep has done an amazing job at connecting with the younger demographic. Unlike the core sanctioning bodies, Street Outlaw, No Prep, etc. doesn’t worry about the PC aspect of life. They don’t worry about “offending” people, which means they understand their core audience and how to garner even more audience. Street Outlaws could be compared to rap music of the 80’s. WHAT? Yep, Street Outlaws reaches the young fan whose parent may not approve, yet once it’s understood, the parent even comes on board. So instead of targeting the parent like NHRA, NASCAR, INDY, etc. do, Street Outlaws and others target the younger group, who ends up bringing their parents on board too.
In business, your objective is to make money on your investment. You are supposed to target the ones with disposable income and decision-making abilities. What happens when you tap out that demographic you are left with a gap in potential revenue though. This is where targeting the youth of the world becomes so important. What happens when you lose the parent and you can’t get the kid on board? You have lost a complete line of revenue potential. You don’t have to have the parent before the kid though. You start with the child, and then you will hook the parent. When a kid wants something bad enough, a parent tends to get drug into it. Look at video games for example. And why do we not either cross brand or have decent video games for drag racing etc? If street racing is so appealing to kids, why aren’t we having street racing video games created?
While I don’t think that NHRA or others will go the way of IHRA, F1, or possibly NASCAR, I do believe that we are creating more and more of a gap within our industry by failing to reach real target demographics and making the motorsports product an affordable spectator outlet for people. It’s time to start looking outside your look box when we look at the future of drag racing. Stop relying just on black and white numbers and actual learn what we need to do and what trends are going to be in future so that we can continue to grow the drag racing piece of the pie.