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Brownsburg, Indiana — Matt Hagan, who won the “Funny Car” world championship twice, heard these stories throughout the forced shutdown of the pandemic.

The unemployed crew look for odd jobs to pay the bills. Some of his teammates started driving cement trucks. Hagen thought of his father Car dealer The owner, despite losing millions of dollars during the 2008 recession, continues to pay employees.

In the end, Hagen concluded that the world’s most important racing series must be put back into work.

When Hagan returned to NHRA in Indianapolis last weekend, Hagan said: “A lot of people, like my wrench man, have nothing else. Therefore, I thank NHRA for taking the necessary steps to keep these people working and said We are taking a step towards returning to normal.”

With the closure of the 138-day series, NHRA officials spent months modifying the schedule, trying to figure out how to bring fans back and assuring sponsors that it would be safe-even if there has been a surge of COVID-19 positive tests recently It may also be closed again.

After the breakdown of two restart plans, it went smoothly last weekend, as the fans grinded around the Lucas oil circuit in three sunny days. The series returns to the summer national park this weekend.

Glen Cromwell, president of NHRA, admitted that about 75% of the employees in the series continue to take leave, while those who did not have a pay cut continue to take leave.

The most obvious difference last weekend was the absence of John Force Racing because of speculation that the team had lost too much funding to participate in the race. Team spokesman Sara Slaughter declined to comment.

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However, Cromwell insisted that the series is in a favorable position because none of its main sponsors withdrew.

He said: “I think sponsors at all levels are evaluating their investments, I think this is enough to show that NHRA and many of their team sponsors have persevered. They believe in the sport. NHRA is in a stable state and I think we are in A good location.”

At the grassroots level, drag racing may be the position in all racing series.

While in the US and Canada Tim Frost, the publisher of The National Circuit Guide, estimates it is a drag belt, and it is estimated that 250,000 of the approximately 400,000 American racers are throwers.

The reason: it is cheaper and attracts a larger field, which leads to a larger wallet.

Can NHRA continue to attract large crowds under the new guidelines?

Fans must pass a temperature check and wear a mask to enter. Ticket sales are limited to between 10% and 15% of Indy’s capacity, which is usually 30,000 to 40,000 people in September.

At least this is the beginning.

Antron Brown, the three-time top fuel world champion, said: “It feels good to come back and do what we do. Fans have always supported me. You saw them here and stepped forward to express them. Support. It feels good to come back and give them some action.”

Some die-hard fans can’t wait to experience the roar of a powerful 11,000 horsepower engine, or breathe the indescribable mixture of burning rubber and burning fuel.

The organizers did not announce an official attendance last weekend. According to sportsmediawatch.com, the rare NHRA ratings on the FOX broadcast network are 0.46, or 689,000 viewers, while FOX’s first TV show last season had a ratings of 0.6, while 920,000 viewers had some decline.

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Series officials hope to achieve better results in Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas and Atlanta, and then return to Indiana in early September to participate in the U.S. Nationals and reschedule the All-Star Game.

With the increase in expenditure and work, NHRA needs more people, better TV ratings and stable sponsorship to proceed as scheduled, because it will flourish in a sports world that is eager to compete.

Hagan said: “We have to have fans in the race because they have to pay and we need sponsors to run these cars. Sometimes you have to decide what you want to do. You want to die. if you don’t, it’s almost It’s like starving to death, it’s far more terrifying than getting a virus.”

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