It’s that time of year for those of you who may follow the NHRA tour of events, be it national or Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisionals, to pay a little more attention to things other than the normal freshen up duties.

For years during whatever may be the “off-season,”, besides freshening up our engines and the like, my wife and I would spend time going over the NHRA Contingency List to see who the sponsors are and for what products they’re paying for. It’s gotten a little harder as sometimes the actual List isn’t updated in a timely fashion. It used to be that the List was formulated on a deadline in December, but now it’s as if a company can almost wait until the last minute to post. I’m not sure that’s accurate, but it sometimes appears that way. Naturally too, it used to be posted in National Dragster. Now you’ve got to do some internet searching to find the List. From that point though, we’d make sure we had the correct decals and such. Of course, there are some who might not be concerned about the money, but why leave any on the table if you can help it. No, I am not sucking up to anyone about this, just rather pointing out a fact.

For those not familiar with this concept, it requires you to purchase said product and wear the company’s decal for the entire event. At the completion of the event, an NHRA official inspects your car for the correct decal, and product in some cases, and those companies are notified by NHRA of your win. Afterwards, you’ll receive a check directly from them. Simple. There are some companies who choose to police their own contingency program which requires you to notify them when you win. Either way it may require a little bit of work on your part but it’s worth it.

Let’s face it, the purses paid out at NHRA races are rather dismal at best. There, I said it but everyone knows it. In fact, other than some minor increases to the – dare I say (wink-wink, after last week’s Blog) – Sportsman classes, the actual cash paid out from NHRA; be it a national or divisional event; has really not kept up with the times. Not when high-dollar bracket races are paying out in the five figure numbers and even more. In the past few years, there were some bracket races which paid an actual $1,000,000 to the winner. In order to at least make any kind of decent money should you win or runner-up at an NHRA event, requires contingency decals applied to your vehicle.

It’s pretty admirable to not paste any decals on your car, and I respect your choice for not doing so. However, as I mentioned earlier. why leave money on the table? We had built a car for a racer years ago and he preferred the clean look with no decals on his car. His choice and we understood. While at an event, he had been explaining how it cost him $10,000 to have his home painted. After his win at that event and while waiting for winner’s circle photos, he caught me eyeballing his “clean look” race car.

“I know, he said, “I probably lost, what, $5,000 by not having any decals on my car?

“No,” was my comment. “You probably could have almost paid for that house painting.”

“Oh no. Don’t tell my wife that!”

The problem lately is the Contingency list has been reduced quite a bit over the years. I seem to remember the first national event I won back in 1984 eventually; once all the checks rolled in; it totaled up to something like a $20-25,000 total. The last win of mine in 2019, we may have been hard-pressed to come out with $6,000. You can blame that on a number of things, but the bottom line is the money ain’t what it once was. And naturally, companies are looking hard at their expenses to justify sales.

For a company that does post contingency payouts, the idea is to have it generate sales. As racers, we should be doing our part to support those who support the sport. How? By taking a peek at the List to see who’s paying and for what products.

I’ll admit that it’s not as easy to get paid from some companies as it used to be. And of course, there are some horror stories about companies not paying or taking too long to pay, but for a little bit of work on your part, it’s worth every penny, and it makes trips to the mailbox a little more exciting.