Kalitta Loses Mac Tools to Bad Economy
Even as Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal reports that NHRA is the best sports advertising for the dollar, Rome keeps on burning with the loss of yet another major backer. This time it's Kalitta Motorsports that is clearly feeling the heat of the flames as the struggling toolmaker calls it quits in sponsoring a top fuel car. Last week Melanie Troxel's funny car was parked and the week before that it was Rob Fuller CAT sponsored top fuel dragster.
Kalitta Motorsports, who has long been considered one of drag racing's superteams has said to have pulled the plug on it's two other top fuel teams and is now down to just one funny car team unless team owner Connie Kalitta has a change of heart. He has strongly hinted that he will no longer fund the four teams without major sponsors. This has been a tough ending to a tragic year as Connie lost his son Scott in a well publicized racing accident in Englishtown in June.
Reading into some of these sponsor losses, it appears that most of these companies such as UPS, Mac and others want to stay in the sport but not at the current price tag for a full time gig. Again, it's time to find away to make nitro racing more affordable.
For more on this subject, read "Rome is Burning" below.
Cap Racing's The Year in Pictures
The Capitol car drew a good response at both the track and at non-automotive events in 2008
As the year draws to a close a look back at the 2008 season is in order. Here you will see on-track images by one of our favorite photographers, Larry McFarland from grandstandphotos.com. Also mixed in are some images taken by Bill Sullivan and team members at different events where the car was on display. These pictures clearly show our hands-on marketing approach to the sport we love so much.
Directions: Click on the link below. Then once the album appears click on any picture. To see the slide show click on the arrow In the right corner of the orange band. click here to see the year in pictures
The Blues are Back
Some nice images of the Blue Angels taken by John Lingenfelter and exclusive to capracing.com can be seen here: The Blue Angels
Brent Sanford Awarded Most Valuable Crew Member at Adam's Rib Christmas Dinner
Enough crew, sponsors, and family members braved a hard driving snow storm to make the annual Capitol Auto Group Racing Christmas dinner a big success. Mike and Katrina Adam's Rib did a great job taking good care of us with some of the best prime rib found anywhere. They are a blessing to have on board and if you still haven't tried Adam's Rib, do it real soon.
At the dinner the crew members were presented crew jackets expertly stitched by image Action Wear as a reward for a great season. Car Chief Brent Sanford was presented with the "Most Valuable Crew Member" Award. This is a new award given to a team member that goes the extra mile through out the year "It is the crew members around me that made the difference. I can't do my job without them" Sanford said. Sanford pointed out Crew Chief Ken Logan as being a good teacher. Also during the dinner, a video was shown of the Fall Classic put together by crew member Tyler Abbott.
Sponsors in attendance included the Adams, Jeff Marsh from Canby Transmission and Ryan Valentine of MV Mobile Detail. Crew members included Sanford, Logan, Brian Washburn as well as Jerry and Tyler Abbott. Everyone had a great time and hopefully got home safely.
Cap Racing Surpasses 500,000 Hits for Year
According to Awstats, a web monitoring tool, www.capracing.com has just surpassed a half million hits for the year which is up from last year where we logged 447,019 hits. While not a big deal for some web sites, for a local racing team that is very good numbers and adds increased value to our advertising program. In fact, an Alexa search revealed that this site has higher traffic ratings than some of the big name NHRA Powerade Series nitro teams.
We would like to thank Jim Rockstad our columnist, and those that link to our site. But most of all, thanks to the people that come here regularly. In 2009, you will be glad to know that we will continue to pass on the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with our sport. We will also report on our team's progress and will even include a few editorials when necessary.
Opinion the contents below is the opinion of ProMotion Motorsports and not the expressed opinion of any of our sponsors.
Opinion by Rich Bailey
Rome is Burning for the Pro Classes
On top of the many NHRA pro teams already announcing they will be sitting out the 2009 season, combined with IHRA not contesting a Fuel Funny Car class, the professional side of drag racing is in trouble. Now, another shocking revelation came down the pike today. Roger Burgess who bought out Mike Ashley earlier this year has parked his team three days before Christmas and released everyone including driver Melanie Troxel.
Troxel now joins her husband Tommy Johnson on the sidelines after several good seasons racing in Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car. Suddenly, drag racing's dream couple, profiled on CBS News earlier this year are unemployed in a career field where few if any well paying driving jobs are now available. Johnson was the first of a long list of drivers released this fall when Kenney Bernstein informed him that their funny car operation was being eliminated as Monster Energy Drinks chose to leave NHRA after it was decided that Full Throttle would take over as the NHRA series' title sponsor.
It's a lot to ask of any fuel team owner to go at it alone, out of their own pocket with the large overhead NOW needed to run these cars. And what is there to be surprised about? We all saw where this was eventually going to go this past summer when there was no signage on Troxel's car. Any time a silver and burgundy car rolls out of the paint booth without a sponsor you can guess that team isn't long for the world.
Sadly Top Fuel Racing has become a multi-million dollar enterprise that rarely makes a profit and a finger can be pointed at some of the teams themselves where money was no object, and the NHRA for not increasing the round money enough to keep these teams on the road. They are well aware that this is a delicate series where all it take is a financial crisis to shut down fed-up and under funded team owners paying most of the bills. Most team owners are millionaires but even they have a tipping point and the economy has exposed it. Business takes a dive and the millions they are pouring into their teams suddenly becomes a big deal.
I have said before and will say it again that the cost of running a fuel car on the Powerade circuit is more than what it's worth to most CEO's. I have been on the inside of a lot of promising major league deals only to see them sour at the last minute. It's heartbreaking to see. NHRA needs to put nitro racing on a low budget diet immediately. If I can race a six second car on less than $20,000 per year, a 4 second car should be able to be raced regionally on less that $500,000 per year. Maybe I'm stupid to think that but I believe it can be done and will have to be done.
The fuel racing world is Tom Compton's Rome and Rome is burning. At the two races I went to this year in Seattle and Pomona I saw teams needing two semis for one car, drivers rarely out meeting the fans, Crew Chiefs standing around smoking cigarettes looking board, fewer independent teams, and empty hospitality areas rarely being used. Some of these pit areas had a depressing feel about them.
When Evan Knoll was pumping millions of questionable funds into these cars, and the economy was living high on the hog nobody really gave a damn what it costs as long as there were 16 cars ready to race on Sunday. Nobody ever made plans on what to do if the bottom fell out and the bottom did fall out.
This is the opinion of Rich Bailey and not our sponsors.
It’s Full Steam Ahead for SIR in 1988
Improvements were certainly in order in 1988 for SIR as we prepared for the return of big-league drag racing. Part of the agreement with the NHRA included some annual improvements with Winston being financially involved. Scoreboards and complete revamping of the existing grandstands would need to take place along with a lengthening of the concrete pads, expanding parking areas etc., all prior to the first event. Some concrete walls were also installed prior to the ground shaking return of this National event. Over the years that I was there, millions of dollars were poured into the facility along with the help of the NHRA and Winston. Some of it showed, a lot of it didn’t…..but most of it was part and parcel of the contract put together back in 1987.
Sometimes in life you get a second shot at something. With this new event set in the summer of the Northwest (instead of September as the original Fallnationals were) it made the huge difference that the event is today. There simply in no comparison to that earlier event back in
Over the years with this new NHRA National event I used to count my blessings as I knew that I was in a small fraternity. At the time, there were about 12 privately owned sites (The NHRA had the rest of them) where these NHRA National events were situated in the USA. At those sites, all of them had millions and millions invested in the racing world and here was little ‘ole me with little (or no) dough. I simply had a contract on a piece of property and an annual improvements package that would allow me to fix and rebuild as we go.
This was the only way I could be in this position with this sport. How fortunate I was to be in this position. It was like unbelievable to me! Each year standing on the starting line with the national anthem blaring away I would begin tearing up as the first two top fuel cars would light off. As a junior in Jefferson High School in Portland, I came to the Grand Opening of Pacific Raceways which was July of 1960. Here it is almost 30 years later and my corporation has the lease, one of the elite NHRA National events and it all happened with no money of my own….because I never had any resources at all. I’ve asked myself a thousand times how in the world does a goof-off kid from North Portland, that just eeked through high school get to be one of these rare business guys in the sport that he loved his whole life?
…..hey folks, only in America! This certainly is the land of opportunity!
One of the hardest problems there is in a seasonal (income) race track is keeping good people (through the winter) and having the cash flow to do that. For a guy like me that headed up this corporation without a lot of resources the lack of winter cash flow was a huge headache.
With the new NHRA National event arriving in 1988 I could see a way around that problem…..advance ticket sales. I set up a program where the advance sales would go on sale the day after this years’ event for next years’ event. In other words, we could start generating dollars for the event 12 months prior to it. There would always be those that would buy the customary Christmas gift for someone and the tickets are perfect for that. Setting up this program early in the “life” of the new National event was an excellent move, in a business sense. The program allowed race fans to “Keep Their Seats” if they bought them right after the just-run event. Additionally we had some suites to sell and VIP packages which all were sold right after the completion of the event….for the next year.
The modern-day NHRA National event takes up a lot of room and SIR has the worst physical layout of any of the race track sites in the country. Using the road course for the sportsman cars worked pretty well at SIR. It gave the sportsman racers a place of their own and in most cases some asphalt to pit on. The real mess at SIR is ingress and egress. The one road in-one road out problem is really bad and so very frustrating for getting traffic into an organized route. Dealing with those headaches is something I’ll certainly not miss as it was a problem for any event of size.
One thing that I felt was of utmost importance was to continue to expand the area for pits and parking, the best I could. I knew if I showed the NHRA that some improvements would be made each year that the future for that event was solid at SIR. In my contract was an improvement fund so we would be partnering on annual improvements which was really positive for the future. Additionally there were many areas in and around the raceway property that could be expanded increasing the available areas for use at this National event.
I knew that it wasn’t my property like the other tracks which would make these massive improvements from year-to-year. When you own the land you can invest heavily in the future but I had no such way to do that so I was setup annually to make some improvements which would satisfy the needs for the NHRA and would allow things to get better for SIR, over time. I could not bury my company financially in land I did not own. I knew my time there was limited so my number one priority was to keep the NHRA happy and improve things over time…….during my lease. It sure seems pretty simple.
Prior to the NHRA Northwest Nationals taking place I had to adjust the existing curfew hours so the event would fit securely within the Conditional Use Permit (CUP). That meant a hearing in front of King County officials where we could trade away some of the existing curfew-use hours that don’t get used by the NHRA event. I had to use a local land use attorney to ensure that I wasn’t opening up a “can of worms” with King County as that racetrack doesn’t sit in a positive way with a lot of county officials. We set the curfew to 9pm on Friday night (which usually was 11:00pm) to allow for the dusk Friday night qualifying.
Those two hours were then added to the 5:30pm normal Sunday curfew to use in case of extra long down time during the final eliminations. We wouldn’t use the extra hours unless we really needed to. (Now, with the adjusted time between rounds these events generally finish by abut 4:30pm on Sunday). If everyone new the years and years of hassle and expense that have been put into that CUP then you’d certain understand why there needed to be some leeway built into the adjusted curfews for that weekend.
At the old NHRA Fallnationals for example, I paid a $1,500. fine for 8 cars (sportsman) running past the 5:30pm Sunday curfew. That was one of the reasons for “allowing” the old Fallnationals to go away as the NHRA was or could impact the future of SIR by running over the curfew hours year after year. These new adjusted curfew hours were a huge insurance in case of weather problems, crash emergency slowdown or other curfew impacting situations that might arise. Being a responsible business for the local community and keeping a positive relationship with King County was so very important for the future of SIR and the NHRA National event.
Thunder in the pipes: #13 THE NHRA NORTHEST NATIONALS IS EVERYTHING NOW!