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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

General Admission in Drag Racing:
Where's the Seats?

By Bill Pratt

In an earlier piece this year (Draglist Story of the Day, 4/30), I was taken aback at the fact that NHRA has general admission to their national events, but that there are no bleachers available for general admission patrons. I got many responses to that piece, most in full support of my position (and included a fair number of professional drag racers). A few others noted that while the prices seemed high, they were no higher than for a basketball game. No doubt, a professional stick and ball game will set you back in this modern era also, but there is one clear difference.

The major difference between a stick and ball game and a similarly priced general admission drag racing ticket is that with a ball game, you get a seat. Not so at the general admission NHRA drags, at least at Virginia this year. I paid $37 bucks a head Saturday to be able to HEAR the qualifying action and to see rare glimpses of some of the cars tucked between the trailers in the pits. I simply cannot believe the NHRA is allowing people to walk into the pit gate 40 bucks lighter without providing any CHANCE of a seat. If I wasn't there myself, I wouldn't have believed it.

I took myself, my brother, and my son to VMP for Saturday qualifying. That was over 90 bucks. I am lucky to be at a place in my life where that's not too big a hit. But what about the guy who maybe makes that much in a half a day of work or even a whole day? He gets there with his wife and kids, coughs up the dough, and then heads for the general admission seats -- only to find that they don't exist. Seats? Sorry, pal, that's another 60 bucks.

I grew up poor. Nothing sucks worse than the feeling of not being able to participate in stuff because of finances. This policy pisses me off, but it has to be devastating to a working guy who is trying to give his kids a rare treat.

No, the difference between a basketball game, football game, or baseball game and a general admission NHRA ticket is the fact that none of the stick and ball sports would even THINK of continuing to sell tickets to a sold out event. At the very least, the fact that general admission DOES NOT offer ANY seating should be POSTED CLEARLY at the ticket office. Like I said, I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it myself.

I don't know about other parts of the country, but here on the East Coast, there is no limit to the number of attractions competing for the family entertainment dollar. I can't help but think that casual motorsports fans will choose another venue after experiencing this general admission (but not general seating) policy. There is no shortage of places competing to provide a full, complete entertainment experience for the money. The people will find them. And drag racing loses again.

Bill Pratt


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