Ford is just one of four manufacturers that sponsors race teams in the professional drag racing circuit. Also putting big bucks into the sport is Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota. Between the four, the money they sink into the sport is money that race teams depend on to make it to each race event and participate in the big show.
The drop out of Ford will be devastating to race teams that are sponsored by them. Some race teams will be forced to look to other car manufactures for sponsorship, some may be lucky enough to slip by without a major manufacturer backing them, but for the most part race teams that can’t get sponsorship from another manufacturer will be forced to sit out after the 2014 season.
Ford’s reasoning behind leaving a sport that they have sponsored for so many years is easy: The investment on advertisement just is not giving Ford a the return they would need to make it worth their while. Attendance at professional events are down and T.V. ratings are a huge flop.
Ford still plans on sponsoring at sportsman levels of drag racing, this is due to the fact that they will be putting the sponsorship in race teams of cars that looks like a car that you would drive on the road and possibly head to the dealership and find on the showroom floor. Its takes no rocket scientist to see it’s hard to promote Ford products on a vehicle that is all fiberglass, produces 8,000hp and does not actually use Ford products on it.
So where is Ford Going?
Ford has looked into other options that will target a younger crowd. Rally racing and drifting are fairly new types of racing that attracts a much younger fan base. And NASCAR racing and monster truck events have always been longtime money-makers for Ford; not to mention they also draw in a younger crowd and that’s what Ford is looking for.
The NHRA actually travels to more cities than NASCAR throughout their seasons, cities that would be good places to target for advertising, but if people don’t show up, and if people don’t watch them on T.V., they can travel around the world and it wouldn’t matter.
NASCAR could race at the same track every week and due to television scheduling could still get the Ford name out their better than NHRA. NASCAR shows up broadcast stations like FOX, ABC, ESPN etc. NHRA does not have nearly that type of exposure. Even the reality T.V. show on Discovery channel “Street Outlaws”, a show about illegal drag racing had a much higher television ratings than professional drag racing did.
Ford’s exit from the NHRA will be a devastating blow to an already hurting respected organization. A lot of people already consider the sport to be more like a country club, if you don’t have a huge bank roll you won’t be able to race.
Even Erica Enders-Stevens, a Pro-Stock Driver who made her mark on the class by being the first women to win in Pro-Stock, and has racked up seven wins since then, had to sit out a few events in the 2013 season due to sponsorship issue.
Ford gives race teams sponsored by them the whole 2014 season to make arrangements. Some teams will be racing to put some W’s in the win column in an attempt to impress other manufacturers before the seasons up. Others will already probably have doors opened for them. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens during the 2014 season and how the next year’s off-season will turn out.