NHRA sold, boon to Indy UPDATE If the sale of the National Hot Rod Association's pro racing assets to a group of investors is finalized, NHRA president Tom Compton predicts it will be a boon to the already thriving drag racing business in the Indianapolis area.
With Brownsburg serving as home to a number of top NHRA teams and the area benefiting from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals -- the sport's premier event held annually at O'Reilly Raceway Park -- the announcement Wednesday that the NHRA had agreed to a $121 million deal with HD Partners Acquisition Corp. came as stunning news locally.
But Compton, reached by phone on his way to Topeka, Kan., site of the event that ended Sunday, offered reassurances the deal is going to make Indianapolis even more of a hub for drag racing.
"This is going to grow this sport like you've never seen," Compton said. "What that means for Indianapolis is that you're going to have more people coming to town for the U.S. Nationals and more teams making their headquarters in Brownsburg.
"It's the best thing for all of our race teams, so there's no reason it shouldn't be good for Indianapolis."
Compton said the racing will go on with no visible changes.
"It's not going to affect anything people see," he said. "We agreed to this deal because it's going to open a lot of new doors to relationships and give us access to additional capital. To take this sport to the next level, we believe this is the right step."
As one of four facilities owned by the NHRA, the O'Reilly Raceway Park oval and drag strip are among the assets changing hands. But ORP spokesman Scott Smith said the track's busy schedule won't change and ORP will remain home to the U.S. Nationals, a Labor Day weekend tradition at the Clermont track since 1961.05/30/07 The National Hot Rod Association has sold its professional racing assets, including the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, its current television contract with ESPN and the rights to license and commercialize the NHRA brand, to HD Partners.
"We're still going to be racing," Smith said. "There's nothing changing on our schedule this year or next year or the year after that or the year after that." More at IndyStar.com
The new organization will be called NHRA Pro Racing.
The NHRA will receive approximately $121 million, including about $100 million in cash, $9.5 million in HD Partners common stock and the assumption by HD Partners of about $11.5 million in debt and liabilities.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, the NHRA, will continue to operate as a nonprofit company, as it was founded by Wally Parks 56 years ago. It will retain its nonprofessional racing activities and sanctioning role and will continue to operate its sportsman and amateur programs, represent its 80,000 members and publish the weekly National Dragster magazine.
The closing of the asset purchase and related transactions is subject to stockholder approval, regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions.
Upon closing, Eddy Hartenstein, chairman and CEO of HD Partners, will serve as chairman of NHRA Pro Racing, and NHRA president Tom Compton will assume the role of president and CEO of the new company. Compton will continue as a member of the NHRA board of directors.
Peter Clifford, currently NHRA executive vice president and general manager, will become executive director of the NHRA, as well as a consultant to NHRA Pro Racing.
“While we have made tremendous strides over the last eight years growing the professional side of the sport, today’s announcement is the next logical step in the evolution of the sport of drag racing,” Compton said. “This new relationship brings with it access to investment capital, additional expertise, relationships and complementary skill sets to assist the current management team to drive key initiatives to accelerate the growth of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.”
Under the agreement, HD Partners will also acquire four NHRA-owned racetracks; a long-term track lease in Pomona, Calif.; the NHRA headquarters building in Glendora, Calif.; and a video and photo archive chronicling the history of drag racing; including more than 20,000 hours of video and film.
The POWERade series currently consists of 23 national events, all aired on ESPN2. ThatsRacin.com