Veteran Racer Mike Salinas Sounds an Alarm about the Future of the NHRA (1 Viewer)

A few weeks back I was watching a No Prep Kings episode. One of the racers said people go to NHRA events to see the racing, and they go the NPK events to see the drivers.
I just don’t know what NHRA can take away from that statement, but it appears to be true.
Then I'd day that person has never been to an NHRA race. I know for a fact our driver signs a ton of handouts, takes a lot of pictures and shakes a lot of hands. Routinely has fans ask what races will he be attending for the upcoming season.
 
Then I'd day that person has never been to an NHRA race. I know for a fact our driver signs a ton of handouts, takes a lot of pictures and shakes a lot of hands. Routinely has fans ask what races will he be attending for the upcoming season.
Advertise an NPK race, then advertise a National event in the same market.
I’d venture that the NPK race will have more first time attendees.
That’s what I took from the NPK racer.
Not trying to say I prefer NPK or over NHRA, because I don’t.
 
I think the NHRA is in a great spot right now. Great competitive racing and the crowd size arguments have dwindled dramatically. But one thing that drag racing is lacking with, is presence.

But they know that the attraction to the younger crowd is lackluster. But as Mike said, they're trying. Hence them going all in on the video game. They also noticed the success that Drive to Survive has brought F1. That got a NHRA reality show in the works.

One thing that drag racing as a whole could do is follow NASCAR's blueprint with social media and YouTube. Specifically Twitter. They have their own community on there. The NHRA page itself does a decent job but the only professional drivers who seems to be consistently engaged are Clay Millican and Ron Capps, who both know how to show off their personality. Antron Brown is right behind Capps.

More YouTube content would be a huge boost. Right now the only thing thats going up on their page is final rounds, explosions, and crashes. When the game drops a lot of eyes could go on them if they partner with YouTubers that specialize in racing games.

As far as promoting sportsman racers as the next stars, I think it's a logical thing to do for those with professional aspirations.
 
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Then I'd day that person has never been to an NHRA race. I know for a fact our driver signs a ton of handouts, takes a lot of pictures and shakes a lot of hands. Routinely has fans ask what races will he be attending for the upcoming season.
I can vouch for that. We have been pitted next to each other many times back in my Bode years.;)
 
I never thought putting this up would seemingly put such negativity toward Mike Salinas.

For the record, I don’t agree with him on everything. I didn’t see it as crapping on the now as much as how he sees it could be way down the road. After Compton went into witness protection I feel they have been much more open to change and made a lot of well thought out decisions. Like them or not.

I felt there was enough backstory and positivity in that he helps the junior dragster program that it was worth posting. Maybe not.
 
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I went to a divisional race this weekend, nice crowd but Belle Rose divisional is on of the few D4 races I been to that pulls a good fan count. In October that same track had a NPK event. Track operator rented stands to double the capacity. Should have ordered more because the place was packed. You could not get on social media, tv, radio, etc without hearing about the event. A lot of locals didn't know the track was there. Divisional pulled a good crowd with just the track putting it out on social media. Funny car Chaos is coming to Baton Rouge drag strip and it will be sold out because of the constant advertising on radio, Facebook, etc. for the last couple of months.
Also the young fans goes to a NPK event to see the drivers and the cars. They feel the cars has more character the the drivers. Walking around this weekend, I told a friend that they could have paid Kye Kelly to bring the shocker and maybe a 1000 extra fans would have shown up that would have never thought about going to a divisional event.
 
don't see this rambling on other websites? did mike contact susan?
the who's who rite now in the 3 main pro classes; most came out of sportsman classes and some even jr.'s
i don't think this is a good read at all.
then go read susan's wrap up article about the salinas win in phoenix. (on complus)
Scrappers Racing is a genuine one-car team, and Salinas said, “It looks like we reinvented the sport, because now it’s a bunch of single-car teams.
Same drivers –they now just own the teams. It's going to be good for the sport.
“They just need to be careful,” he said of the new team owners (including Antron Brown, Buddy Hull, and Tripp Tatum in Top Fuel and Ron Capps in Funny Car). I think the part for the inner workings of what it takes to do this, they're going to learn some good lessons,
but in 'veteran racer' article it is mentioned that, Don Schumacher’s once-mighty presence on-track has dwindled to one car.
i can't wait for the lessons to begin :rolleyes:
 
IMO it is not the age of the participants it is the money it takes to be involved. Most of the younger drivers are sons of older drivers. All of Forces team are related.
PS between Elite and KB they own every engine out there. Yes Capps and Brown are "new" teams question is how long do they last?
There really is not much new blood as their is family dynasties.
Sponsors are extremely hard to come by. How many business men running businesses making enough disposable profit to run a pro car are interested in racing.
Fact is there are barely enough cars to have full fields. Racers and racing is a unique endeavor our numbers are dwindling.
 
I can't speak for what other people here feel about Mike, but I personally feel he is one of the nicest guys and one of the smartest businessmen out there. I'm not going off of what I see on tv or what someone told me, I'm going off of what I have personally experienced with him from week to week over the years that I spent at the track around him and talking to him on many different subjects. I also know that he treats his crew very well and he takes so much pride in his racing operation from the toolboxes to the race car haulers. He has invested a lot of time and money in the sport of Nhra drag racing and continues to do so. When the pandemic hit, he kept his crew on the payroll by letting them help him at his company. I can't think of any other team owner out there that has purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for every crewmember on the team just to thank them for helping get that once in a lifetime first win. Mike is one of a kind in my opinion and his daughters are definitely cut from the same cloth.
 
I never thought putting this up would seemingly put such negativity toward Mike Salinas.

For the record, I don’t agree with him on everything. I didn’t see it as crapping on the now as much as how he sees it could be way down the road. After Compton went into witness protection I feel they have been much more open to change and made a lot of well thought out decisions. Like them or not.

I felt there was enough backstory and positivity in that he helps the junior dragster program that it was worth posting. Maybe not.
WITNESS PROTECTION?????
 
then go read susan's wrap up article about the salinas win in phoenix. (on complus)
Scrappers Racing is a genuine one-car team, and Salinas said, “It looks like we reinvented the sport, because now it’s a bunch of single-car teams.
Same drivers –they now just own the teams. It's going to be good for the sport.
“They just need to be careful,” he said of the new team owners (including Antron Brown, Buddy Hull, and Tripp Tatum in Top Fuel and Ron Capps in Funny Car). I think the part for the inner workings of what it takes to do this, they're going to learn some good lessons,
but in 'veteran racer' article it is mentioned that, Don Schumacher’s once-mighty presence on-track has dwindled to one car.
i can't wait for the lessons to begin :rolleyes:

I admire Salinas for what he has accomplished for himself, his family and his stakeholders. He is a true product of the American Dream.

And what I take what he is saying about "...learn good lessons,..." is that some of these other guys (new owners) are no longer just a spoke in the wheel, but rather now the hub. No longer being part of a larger multi-team program that can go down pit row to barrow a part or tool from a teammate and have all accounted under the same umbrella. Now, that part or tool may not be compatible with your program and you'll may have to sign a receipt for it. Business is business first and foremost.
 
did

have to disagree. the npk driver who said that is wrong. the nhra promotes it's professional drivers and has for quite some time.
both drag racing forms attract fans who are knowledgeable of the respective drivers
They’ve showcased their drivers and personalities? Maybe I’m missing it
 
I think Mr. Salinas is talking out of his ass on this one. Perhaps he should do some research before opening his mouth. Sure, we need more youth, but to say it is all old men is false.

Several quotes from the article:

"Just look around. There's a big disconnect. Look at the age group. There's no young kids here; there's very few. To sustain a culture, any culture, what does it take? That will tell you how many more years and this will be gone."

“But these powers that be (in the NHRA) don't see it that way. They're not replenishing young people into this sport. You got to reinvent it all the time. I would have those import guys here, racing with the little noisy cars, because those are the Top Fuel drivers of tomorrow."

I ran the numbers on the ages of the drivers in each pro field from this past weekend's race. The average age of each field is as follows:

Top Fuel- 45.25 years old- Youngest- Austin Prock 26- Oldest- Mike Salinas 60

Funny Car- 51.50 years old- Youngest- Bobby Bode 20- Oldest- John Force- 71

Pro Stock- 38.90 years old- Youngest- Mason McGaha 20- Oldest- Rodger Brogdon 61

What we have is a reflection of any profession in America. You have a mix of people of all ages. If you average the age of employees in your place of work, I'll bet the numbers are pretty close to the NHRA averages.

Looking at Pro Stock, 25% of the field is under 30, 56% of the field is under 40, and 81% of the field is under 50. I doubt 81% of anyone's workplace is under 50 years old, with the possible exception of a stripper!

Additionally, Mike laments the age of several major owners and focuses on DSR's reduction of teams this year. I think the split is a good thing. As we have seen, drivers have been able to create their own teams and have been able to secure or bring sponsorship with them and the on track product through 2 races has been some of the best I have seen. I believe eventually some of those teams will grow into 2 or 3 car teams and they will replace the current "old guys" as the top owners in the NHRA. Sure, John Force is getting old but he will most likely be involved long after he stops driving. If not, I think his team is in good hands for the next generation.

In closing, yes the NHRA needs to do a better job of recruiting younger drivers and fans. But to say they have failed at doing so or that the sport is in a dire situation is a farce. Mike is suffering from "rich guy I can do better syndrome." If that is the case, put your money where your mouth is. I think we are all in agreement that another sanctioning body would be a good thing. It just so happens that there is one sitting there ready to go. All it needs is an injection of cash and someone with the skills to implement it. This is your chance, Mike, buy the IHRA and get it going!
Problem with your average ages is your sample size. When adding only 15 or so numbers and dividing them is not very stable, one off on either end throw off everything.
 
I truly think the reason NHRA is dwindling has come down to a few things in and not in their control:

Not in control:

The way people now view cars. 20-30 years ago people bought cars and held on to them to make them either nice or faster. 8 year old mustang in need of a fresh look? Let me save for a paint jobs. Got beat by a Camaro leaving a light? Let me get an exhaust and an air kit. Today, it’s well I’ve had car 3 years , time to time to turn her in, or, my car has 600hp, the upcoming model has 750 ill trade it out when time comes. Not many people today work or tinker with cars when there’s a more instant gratification way of thinking.

The location of the races has never been a friend of NHRA. NFL stadiums are held in major cities, NHRA tracks are held in rural cow fields or remote areas.

Things they can control: (and once did)

Combine mainstream pop topics into the races. Remember when WWF had a car and people would come see stone colds car? Or when Jesse James (i know different reputation now Vs then) the flat brim bros came to see him and what the interest was about. Of course the beer wagons brought about the weekend warriors (and beyond) , I’m sure the skoal cars did the same

Imagine having a car that was associated with something a large number of people can associate with? Like when there was a yankee car, or Larry nance who I’m sure brought in some NBA folks. Why not do some cross promotional stuff with fortnite, better call Saul, game of thrones etc . Even if you have to pay them to participate. Just like when you go to a NFL game and they have recreational activities or bands playing in the parking lot, it’s another avenue of attention.

And lastly, to me, and I’m sure many of you, the perception of NHRA is nepotism. What mike says about working hard to get a TF car is right on line when the teacher says you can do anything you put your mind to. Sorry unless your 6’10, you’re not a center in the NBA, or throw 90 (which a fraction of the country can) no MLB in your site . Only ways to get a Tf ride is t have a strong name (force, Bernstein, prock, Kalitta, salinas to name a few) or have an ungodly amount of disposable cash (dejoria, salinas, Brogdon, Torrence to name a few) or hit the lottery. How does any of these facts create any relatability to the average viewer, something you’re looking to obtain in the millions.

It’s become more of an expensive hobby than a viable career. Kinda like the half million dollar country club golf memberships, you’re either lucky and apart of it if you’re not. Kids watch sports because they can see themselves running like there favorites do the the same drills. Kids can’t see themselves changing last names or family lineage that would allow such a dream .
 
I truly think the reason NHRA is dwindling has come down to a few things in and not in their control:

Not in control:

The way people now view cars. 20-30 years ago people bought cars and held on to them to make them either nice or faster. 8 year old mustang in need of a fresh look? Let me save for a paint jobs. Got beat by a Camaro leaving a light? Let me get an exhaust and an air kit. Today, it’s well I’ve had car 3 years , time to time to turn her in, or, my car has 600hp, the upcoming model has 750 ill trade it out when time comes. Not many people today work or tinker with cars when there’s a more instant gratification way of thinking.

The location of the races has never been a friend of NHRA. NFL stadiums are held in major cities, NHRA tracks are held in rural cow fields or remote areas.

Things they can control: (and once did)

Combine mainstream pop topics into the races. Remember when WWF had a car and people would come see stone colds car? Or when Jesse James (i know different reputation now Vs then) the flat brim bros came to see him and what the interest was about. Of course the beer wagons brought about the weekend warriors (and beyond) , I’m sure the skoal cars did the same

Imagine having a car that was associated with something a large number of people can associate with? Like when there was a yankee car, or Larry nance who I’m sure brought in some NBA folks. Why not do some cross promotional stuff with fortnite, better call Saul, game of thrones etc . Even if you have to pay them to participate. Just like when you go to a NFL game and they have recreational activities or bands playing in the parking lot, it’s another avenue of attention.

And lastly, to me, and I’m sure many of you, the perception of NHRA is nepotism. What mike says about working hard to get a TF car is right on line when the teacher says you can do anything you put your mind to. Sorry unless your 6’10, you’re not a center in the NBA, or throw 90 (which a fraction of the country can) no MLB in your site . Only ways to get a Tf ride is t have a strong name (force, Bernstein, prock, Kalitta, salinas to name a few) or have an ungodly amount of disposable cash (dejoria, salinas, Brogdon, Torrence to name a few) or hit the lottery. How does any of these facts create any relatability to the average viewer, something you’re looking to obtain in the millions.

It’s become more of an expensive hobby than a viable career. Kinda like the half million dollar country club golf memberships, you’re either lucky and apart of it if you’re not. Kids watch sports because they can see themselves running like there favorites do the the same drills. Kids can’t see themselves changing last names or family lineage that would allow such a dream .
 
Not all nhre tracks are in Cow Pie Town if you compare similar cities NFL and Nascar has tracks nearby
 
I wonder what would happen to the N.H.R.A. if one very wealthy person decided to try and promote his own drag racing events and offering twice has much prize money for the racers, would they give it a try.

Right now, there are really not very many sectioning bodies still around, so they can offer whatever prize money they want to. That could all change in the future!

I think a number of years ago Burton Smith talked about doing something similar when he could not get a NASCAR race and I remember him saying let me offer one million dollars in prize money to the racers and let's see whose race they go to. This never happened because NASCAR gave him another race date.

There are people with deep pockets that could make it work.

Jim Hill
 
There are probably more young people drag racing today, just not with NHRA. Street Outlaws has sparked a huge door slammer culture full of younger people. Major XDA motorcycle events will pull 800+ entries and most are young people. Money is part of it. A 6.5 second motorcycle cost much less than a n6.5 second car.

Young people will continue to be involved, just not with the NHRA programs.
 
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