SBJ/February 11-17, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

On the road to recovery? NHRA gets back in the black for first time since 2008

The NHRA ended four years of declining revenue last year and generated a modest profit of approximately $1 million.

The profit put the organization in the black for the first time since 2008. It saw its revenue decrease by more than 20 percent following the recession, and it lost $3.4 million in 2011 when revenue fell below $100 million, its most recent tax filings show.

NHRA President Tom Compton characterized 2011 as a “tough year,” but said that last year was “a huge improvement.”
“We were still facing economic challenges, but we made money in 2012,” Compton said. “We were back in the black.”

The organization’s bottom line got a boost from a new race it added in St. Louis, an increase in attendance and several major sponsorship renewals, including deals with series title sponsors Lucas Oil and Coca-Cola. It also continued to manage costs by laying off some personnel and controlling its travel expenses.

Compton said he expects this season, which begins Thursday in Pomona, Calif., to build on last year. Several tracks are reporting advanced ticket sales, and the series is adding a race in Epping, N.H., which will bring it into New England for the first time in more than a decade.

In addition, the NHRA plans to offer its first live broadcast of qualifying. ESPN, which broadcasts drag races, will cut into second-round coverage of qualifying during the NHRA’s race in Houston this April.

The NHRA expects the year to deliver a feature film on drag racing. Rhino Films is expected to release “Snake and Mongoose,” a feature-length movie about the 1960s rivalry between Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. The movie stars Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The organization also expects a bump from promotion of its new title sponsor.

The NHRA’s 2011 tax document, which was filed late last year, shows that the organization’s total revenue decreased 6 percent from the prior year to $98.2 million. Admissions revenue fell 8 percent to $38.7 million and sponsorship fell 5 percent to $37.6 million. Expenses decreased by 3 percent to $104.4 million, and the organization finished with a deficit of $3.4 million.

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