NHRA Cuts Back Purse, Eliminates Classes as Racers Stir, Looking for Answers
From sea to shining sea, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about everybody in ...
From sea to shining sea, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about everybody in one way or another. Some of us have felt the brunt of the impact a little bit more strongly than others. However, just about everybody has had some sort of life change in one way or another as a result.
The NHRA has been leading the headlines this week in the world drag racing through the pandemic and there’s a dark cloud looming. Though the organization has managed to push through the current events and open back up, even allowing fans in, recent changes have racers reconsidering their participation.
For the past several years, the prize for heading home from a race in the Nitro class victorious has been $50,000. From there, we find a graduated scale that starts with $22,000 for runner-up and ends with $10,000 for a first-round win.
When racing came back for the NHRA, it’s no secret that things were going to be tough with the limited attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions. This meant that all purses would be slashed by 35%, meaning winners of the class would head home with $35,000. It seems as if racers, for the most part, could understand the tightening of the belt. I
t was tough but they would push forward.
$35,000 might seem like a decent chunk of change but we have to consider the expenses involved. Before we even get to the biggest pie slice in maintaining a race car, we have to consider costs like flying the team out, feeding them, putting them in a hotel, and a variety of expenses associated with the hauler that the car rides in.
When thinking about it that way, it almost seems like teams are destined to end up losing money if we’re looking at the payouts alone.
With continued complications from the pandemic, the NHRA has decided to slice their purses yeat again. This means that Nitro winners are now going home with just $15,000. As we continue down the list, we find that Pro Stock’s winner will be good for just $6,000. In other words, even winners will likely be losers in most cases.
In a quote from Autoweek, Top Fuel racer T.J. Zizzo unveiled that, if a team wins, it would cost them about $5,000 in nitro alone. Obviously, nitro is only one small piece of the pie but would account for an entire third of the winnings.
Pro Stock driver, Erica Enders, took to Instagram where she stated that the winnings wouldn’t even cover the team’s hotel bill.
Originally, NHRA Vice-President of Racing Administration Josh Peterson referred to the reduced schedule limiting races to just 2-days as a reason for the prize cut. This time, he simply mentioned the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the additional cutback.
It seems as if corporate sponsorship has been one of the things allowing teams to continue to participate in racing. While some of the major competitors might still be able to keep their balance sheet in the black, this move could certainly spell out the end for teams operating on a stricter budget.
Racers have found winnings in bracket races and independent events to keep their careers afloat. However, it’s unclear if the biggest organization in drag racing is going to be able to keep pace with the way things are going. Without corporate sponsors, it would be a guarantee that every team would be heading home in the red.
Some have been seeing red with the announcement while others argue that the NHRA is simply doing the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt. As racing fans, we’re left in an aurora of uncertainty, hoping that their best is enough.