Motorsports Marketing Forum: Schumacher Notes NHRA Has Become A Business
Seven-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher told ’13 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum attendees the drag-racing series is “100% different” now than when he started racing in ’96. Schumacher said, “It’s business (now), and in that we lose some of the fun. We lose some of what built the sport. People want to see the rivalry. ... We’re going to lose viewership with these new kids if it’s, every time I get out of a car I have to name sponsors and not talk about the runs.” To change that trend, Schumacher said sponsors would have to “come forward and say, ‘Look, we don’t need to hear Army.’” Schumacher has been sponsored by the U.S. Army since ’00, and his buzz cut hair style earned him the nickname “Sarge” in the garage. However, he said he is “not in there to win for the Army." Schumacher: "I’m really in there to win because there’s some sucker in the other lane who thinks he can beat me. That’s ultimately what built me up. We didn’t have names on the side of the car when I started racing.” However, he believes he is a “perfect fit” for the Army brand. Schumacher: “I’m not a very good fit for Budweiser. I don’t drink beer. You’ve got to find your guy, find out what he believes in and live with it.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Asked what his plan would be should his Army partnership end, Schumacher said, “Honestly, I don’t know if I would want to drive. If the Army said, ‘We’re done, we don’t want to race anymore,’ I might just be done. I think it’s a great way to end. It’s been an amazing career and I’ve done so many things. Not that I don’t want to drive for 10 more years and run a race team, I just don’t know that you can replace that.” However, if he did have to replace the Army, Schumacher said it would “have to be something tough." He said, "I’d have a hard time getting out of the car after the Army and talking about Pampers. It just wouldn’t go right.”
OWNERSHIP FUTURE? The 43-year-old Schumacher drives for his father’s team, Don Schumacher Racing, and said owning his own team down the road might be a possibility. “I’d love to own a race team, I really would,” he said. “I think I would be good at motivating and selecting, which is really what it’s all about.”
For more from the Motorsports Marketing Forum, please see our On The Ground blog.