DETROIT, May 31, 2001 - Last June, the National Hot Rod Association announced a landmark five-year television package that would place the nation's premier straight-line motorsports series on ESPN and ESPN2 through 2005. Now the latest ...
DETROIT, May 31, 2001 - Last June, the National Hot Rod Association announced a landmark five-year television package that would place the nation's premier straight-line motorsports series on ESPN and ESPN2 through 2005. Now the latest statistics are in from Joyce Julius & Associates quantifying the number of households tuning in each week, and the early indications are that the expanded television package is a tremendous success.
Joyce Julius reports that through the series' sixth race at Bristol approximately 15.8 million total households, or an average of 2.6 million households per event, have tuned into ESPN/ESPN2's expanded weekly coverage of NHRA Winston Drag Racing. These totals include qualifying, first-round and final-round coverage. The total number for 2001 is up over 180% from the 5.6 million viewers that tuned into the series' first six events in 2000.
"This is outstanding news," said Fred Simmonds, General Motors marketing manager of drag racing. "These are the kind of ratings that team owners can show their sponsors and potential sponsors to demonstrate the dynamic growth of the NHRA. If you want to reach a massive audience in a way that's exciting and cost effective, then NHRA Drag Racing is the place to be."
Many of the on-track participants are elated with the latest numbers as well, including Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am driver Jim Yates.
"I just talked to some of the people at Splitfire," said Yates, "and they've noticed a dramatic return on investment this year on just the television coverage alone. That's an immensely positive result in just the first third of the season. I think as we go along viewership is only going to increase, and that will only help our sponsors and the racers become better known in the motorsports industry."
Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am driver Mark Pawuk, currently in first place in the Pro Stock points standings, agrees with Yates.
"Though we're only in the first year of the package," said Pawuk, "the response to the coverage has been excellent. I'm extremely confident that during the next five years we are going to grow this sport to an unprecedented level."
In addition to increased coverage of qualifying and final eliminations, the weekly news show NHRA Heat has been expanded to 41 shows in 2001. This total package has enhanced the coverage for all of the professional classes.
"It's just a dramatic improvement," said Summit Racing GMC Sonoma driver John Lingenfelter. "Instead of people asking 'where were you?' they've been able to see the races and appreciate it more. People are beginning to appreciate the trucks a lot more and it's created more interest in the class. I think it's great and hopefully it will only get better."
"There's no doubt that this is the best TV package we've ever had," said Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird Funny Car driver Del Worsham. "The good news is, it's still just the ground floor. It's going to build over time, and the best part of it, we're on a major national network every Sunday. Believe me, every sponsor out there is looking at these ratings and there's no doubt that we're just at the beginning."