What happens when the well runs dry? The country has recently tried to answer this question in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, sports owners and employees in sports driven organizations are also asking the same question. The NHRA, however, may be one of the first organizations to develop some useful answers.
The headlines of the GM bankruptcy and Chrysler’s financial challenges were not lost on NASCAR fans. Both were major sponsors of racing events. Immediately, they announced cut backs and major scale downs of their sponsorship. The news has a ripple effect that reached the National Hot Rod Association as well. Budweiser has announced that it is dropping its sponsorship of some major drivers in the NHRA. This will undoubtedly have a significant affect on the 24 races sponsored by NHRA every year. But some NHRA owners refuse to sit in the pit and wait for a flag to wave them out of the game.
John Force, in responsible CEO fashion, is not going down without a fight. The NHRA legend is unique in that he has enlisted ideas from his employees on cutting costs. In the true spirit of sportsmanship, Force is allowing folks to fight for their jobs and giving them the tools to do so. In addition to cheaper hotels and carpooling, racing employees chose to give back their bonuses to keep their jobs. Force also hired an employee to examine if reusable parts are thrown away prematurely, saving additional costs.
The NHRA is also doing its part. Although not a direct response to economic hard times, the NHRA is putting limits on testing in some of its divisions. This will save significant costs per owner.
There are no major revelations here. When you cut costs, you live to race another day. NASCAR and the rest of sporting would do well to take the lead from John Force and the NHRA. Sports organizations should have no problem making a team effort to get the done.