Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis, describes himself as a “glass-half-full” kind of leader.
Racers are reacting to Tuesday’s announcement that the NHRA is severely cutting purses again, while asking teams to travel to Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Nevada for two-day events and deeply discounted payouts. And Blair is providing a calm perspective.
Have a sip of his logic:
“For several weeks the NHRA and the tracks that remain on the 2020 schedule have been working on a variety of scenarios that would allow the events to happen.” Blair told Autoweek. “Right now, the number one goal, at least for us, is to be able to break even on the event. In order to do that, we are slashing expenses wherever possible—and it’s still going to be a challenge while operating at a limited capacity. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the 2020 racing season. Just like the restaurant owners who are trying to survive strictly with outside dining or 50 percent capacity, banquet halls that can now only host 25 people or sporting events that are prohibiting fans. Everyone is facing challenges like never before.
“I like to believe that I’m one of the few people in this sport who still takes a glass-half-full attitude. In this case, I’m looking at the glass as 20 percent full, but at least I have the ability to have something in my glass. There are a lot of others out there who don’t have that option,” he said. “I’m not viewing this as a negative or bad. I’m viewing this as a reassurance to people that the events will actually take place when others would have simply thrown in the towel.
“Every businessperson out there has to make a choice as to what’s right for them. We’ve made the choice that we are moving forward with this event while operating at 80-percent under our capacity. The NHRA has made the choice that they are moving forward and making the dramatic cuts they need to make. The teams simply have to choose what’s feasible for them,” Blair said. “We hope they will want to be a part of the event and keep the sport moving. If they elect not to, that’s their choice to make.
“At the end of the day, it’s a collaborative effort among the member tracks, the NHRA, and the teams to keep the sport moving forward in the most challenging of circumstances. The stakeholders simply need to decide how committed they are to keeping the sport relevant and how big of a challenge they are willing to face. Our job is to get as many fans there as possible, give them a great weekend of entertainment, and thank them for making the choice to leave the house and support the sport,” Blair said. “Our biggest challenge now is rebuilding consumer confidence in our product, and the only way to do that is for everyone to weather this storm together so we can move on to 2021.”
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