What is a better than local dirt track racing?
Well the racing season is winding down and this last week I took a little time to reflect on the race season gone by and it ended up being a week of thought about where the state of local racing is at. At one time, before grass roots style traveling shows like the World of Outlaws or USMTS modifieds, local racing shows were a large part of local entertainment, especially in rural areas.
It feels to me that, even though the business model stays the same, local racing has evolved from a basic entertainment venue to a club style sport that exists more for the racers than it does for the fans. Now, there is no need to tear down the grandstands to expand the pits, but as many promoters concentrate more on their back gate numbers than their front end, it’s hard to deny that the racers are ruling the roost more than the fans.
Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. It may just require a shift in thinking a little. In the more entry level classes, what most racers really want is more track time to have fun for the money they are spending to go racing. The entry level classes of cars aren’t getting much of a payback for the money they are spending. What about this? What if the track were to open and allow racers time on the track if they wanted to come out and practice. Tons of track time to have some fun or practice to hone their skills. They would learn more about their cars and how to drive them. Not only would drivers have more fun for the money, but the show would also get better.
I often hear many arguments to rebut this, the most prevalent is the track drying out and having no moisture come race time. Most of the tracks in our area aren’t even close to being rolled in, come race time, let alone dried out. If drying out is a problem, start practice at eleven o’clock, then shut everything down at about four to give the track a quick prep then restart the program at the normal start time.
If the extra cost is an issue for opening up the track early, charge the racers an extra fifty dollars to come practice at eleven o’clock the drop that amount ten dollars for every hour to the time the track is closed for reprep. In the asphalt racing arena this would be a more viable idea. There would be no track prep to worry about. I do know a track in our area which does do this, on occasion if not every week. If fans in the stands actually come out and watch the practice session the track could benefit from increased concessions.
Tracks need to take care of racers
I also think tracks need to be a little more lenient on racers. This past year one of the tracks we race at wanted to tear down the motor of the car I work on. We were told to be at the track at noon that day so they had plenty of time to tear it down. We decided to bring a grill and have a little cook out, trying to have a little fun with the situation. Security soon showed up and told us to shut the grill down. They said it wasn’t allowed because it would be taking away from concessions. The concessions weren’t even open at the time. Well this particular tracks front gate was down all year and it seemed they tried making it up in any way possible. Their car count in the late model class started the year in the mid twenties, at the end of the year, they were down to around the low teens. Many of the racers said they won’t go back next year.
I don’t want to turn this into a complete rant, but if local racing is slowly sliding to the club style racing with emphasis on the racers, take care of the racers.
There is a style of show that seems to still be concentrating on the front gate and that is the professional traveling series. These shows are still pulling good crowds so a concentration on putting on a good show for the fans is the main priority. Perfect track preparation for great racing, a quickly moving show, not too many classes in the pits, and maybe some great food all would go along with upping the fan experience.
We are entering an age where the racing is separating into two different mind sets, the local part time racer, and the professional racing series. They need to be treated differently because the two groups serve different needs and actually serve two different purposes. I think promoters need to realize this situation and tailor there shows around these mindsets.