The NHRA announced that the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series schedule will be 10 races in 2014 and again will be backed by the race team owners called Real Pro Mod Association or RPM for short. There will be a new track added to the series – Atlanta Dragway – with one of the two Charlotte events taken off the race calendar. However, that’s not the big news.
It was also announced that the series will move their television coverage from ESPN to Velocity. The production of the half hour shows for each race will be operated by Masters Entertainment Group. Furthermore, the shows will be taped and broadcast during a ten consecutive week period next fall. Velocity is the old Discovery Theater channel owned by Discovery Communications and is available to a little less than half of all households in the United States.
For most folks, the idea of having drag races taken off ESPN is good news but considering the old adage, ‘careful what you wish for’, having the races shown near the end of the year, isn’t ideal. Plus, when you consider Velocity is available in about half of the household that ESPN is, means some fans won’t be able to watch NHRA Pro Mod events at all.
The idea of having drag races on any channel other than ESPN is good news as far as this fan is concerned. And that is what I’m wondering. Is this move an experiment of sorts to see if a dedicated fan base – Velocity’s viewers are mainly car enthusiasts and male – is better for the sport than a broader sports channel like ESPN?
Whether this is a test or not, it will be interesting to examine how this works and whether it hurts or helps RPM or the Pro Mod group as a whole. The class is certainly popular among those in drag racing circles but to the casual fan such as those who view ESPN, I’m not sure it matters. The NHRA has treated the class as anything but a professional division and this move appears to be another way to sidestep getting rid of Pro Mod by having almost a hands off policy – not unlike its relationship with Nostalgia drag racing.
My bet is NHRA only keeps these others groups of racers in the fold so that another racing entity can’t come along and run with the popularity of classes like Pro Mod and Nostalgia drag racing. Either way, the move to Velocity by the NHRA Pro Mod series may be something the Nostalgia folks can look into as well.
Here’s hoping this break from ESPN is a good one. We’ll be watching … okay, some of us will be watching.
Contributing source: NHRA
Daryle W. Hier