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rebelracewriter

Racing....the good, the bad, the ugly

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Climbs on soapbox for long rant on a continuing subject, but since its rainy and you have time anyway....

Sadly racing is dying.....and there's enough blame to go around

I'll use some Texas examples simply because these are what I normally see/deal with....but it starts at the top

na$car...time was you had to get on a long waiting list for Bristol tickets.....todays race showed MAYBE 50% full....Daytona touted themselves as being 'sold out', but failed to mention the Daytona makeover removed 50,000 seats
tms.... sold out the first few year.....then they went to two races(which I predicted would be a bad idea) and attendance went down....so they removed the back stretch up seats(best ones for the price in my opinion) for RV parking and auxillary seating in turns 3-4, now they're blocking off the entire back stretch and some turn 1 and 2 seating

cota...continuously uses inflated attendance numbers to satisfy or fool the state comptroller regarding their percentage of state funding given to them

nhra....even their national events have empty seats at venues that would normally fill up....our local(San Antonio) ihra national show has been a big disappointment in attendance the past couple years

So what can we(racing community) do to save our sport?....on the national level there isnt much....prices for events are high, motels jack up rates, traffic sucks.....as long as Brian France is in charge of na$car, its a losing battle.....COTA screwed themselves with a lot of locals when McCombs/Epstien screwed over Tavo Hellmund and Kevin Schwanz....nhra, who knows....ihra, maybe new president Mike Dunn can get them turned around

In the cases of na$car and nhra both have changed a lot of their format to appease a new crowd that they HOPED to attract....it hasnt...all it did was alienate many of us old school fans

Blaming the economy is counter productive....fuel prices are low right now.....there has been ups and downs for years and years that had little effect in the past....so why now?

Now to local tracks....they seem to be dropping like flies lately for various reason.....poor management, poor tech, poor promotion, poor shows, poor car count, poor pay out, driver dissension, social media bashing, people retiring with no new group of young racers coming up

Tracks say their revenue is down, operating costs up....probably true
Drivers say, pay out sucks, tech is not consistent...again probably true

At the rate we're going it won't be long until many tracks are gone, forever and others cut their schedules to once a month or something
look....we're all in this together and it's disturbing to me to see where were headed....so...

Tracks...... if you see a track with a good business model find out what theyre doing right and not doing wrong.....if it means a few free tickets to say first responders, or straight a students, or different cities/communities what do you have to lose if that seat was going to be empty anyway?....nothing
Racers.....please let's cut down on beating the tracks to death....if you have an issue take it up personally, a day or two later, with the track....NOT all over the internet....in my opinion youre just wanting back up and attention.....promote your track.....take some fliers, hand them out when you gas up or stock up on beer/sodas.....sign some autographs for kids while youre there.....organize a showing of your cars at an auto parts store...how much would that cost you?.....nothing

Steps away from dais

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I don't know bout the retirements with out replacements .. maybe a few cases but I look around and a lot of new drivers .now with that said you may see a few retirements who use to work hard at helping young drivers and worked hard to get the next door young one involved ..now days it is harder to find that kid with so much out there to choose from ..a lot of it is young people with broken

homes .no father figure like when we grew up ..then you add the cost .20 years ago it cost me bout 60 dollars to race my car .a week ...now $200 just to load it up .and running for just bout the same purse or even less ..and we really cant blame the track they have it hard too ..I needed just one piston for the motor we are putting together just to get the car out on the track .I had to buy 8 for just one ..was not cheap and that extra cost kept me from buying other parts we needed that 100 00 dollars could have gone into something else .. ..tires wow ...just one cost more than a night out at the bar depending on how much you drink. junk yard tires wont work anymore ..anyway that is just a few of the problems with racing ...

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I cannot figure out the lack of fans in the stands. When I was growing up, I remember going to the races being a big deal and literally packed stands. Sometimes standing room only at SAS. I was not fortunate enough to grow up racing, but I have recently started. I am a "new, young" racer at the ripe age of 25, and three of my friends here in town are just starting out in the dwarfs as well. I cannot believe the lack of fans in the stand, and I do not understand it. It is very disheartening for me, a new racer. I want to put on a good show and I feel like we do, but there aren't many people to see it. As far as the DCRST dwarfs are concerned, the racing is great. I like to think we are doing our part to resurrect the dying racing scene.

 

I feel like the common fan has such a disconnect from the drivers and cars, that they choose to spend their time otherwise on Friday and Saturday nights. I wasn't alive in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, but it sure seems to me that there was a much higher percentage of the population interested-in or involved-in racing. Why is that percentage dropping? We put hours upon hours into getting our cars ready to race, not to mention most of our money, and it seems like we race for the other classes to watch us. I do not have any ideas or solutions, just a little rant.

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Well I think its a lot of things.One is more entertainment options.I'll just take Corpus. Used to be CC Speedway was the place to be. The only competition was Buc Days and the movies. Now we have the Lexington, Texas State Aquarium , Hooks baseball and an active club scene to name a few. And for what those things cost especially taking kids not much dollars left. That is one thing race tracks should make clear. It is the most affordable family venue.Tickets for adults $10-$12 and some tracks 12 and under free or $5 with 5 and under free.Those other places are quite higher except for the ball park.Concession is at least half price to most places. Like a hot dog and med soda at the American Bank Center or Whataburger Field is around $10.At the race track $4-$5. Race tracks should push value in their advertising.

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I also think there is a higher barrier to entry on racing than there used to be. More people used to actually work on their daily cars, so there was a basis of knowledge and interest in the general public that we don't see now. For example, my generation is clueless, and y'all don't need anybody to tell you that.

 

I guess this more concerns car count. I'm in a small, relatively affordable car that is still fast; but if not for the help of other drivers in the class, there is no way I would be racing. I don't see how anybody could start out in any of the more competitive classes on their own, with no crew, and no experience. I just happened to find a class that is compatible with that situation. The driving is no big deal, it's everything else. Not to mention the money tied up. Dwarfs are some of the cheapest cars to race and maintain, but I'm still going broke trying to do this.

Edited by TexasAggie13

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I will add this.. The attention span of folks has shortened and they are constantly needing to be entertained. Cup races are long and since these guys don't crash fans are not entertained. We race fans are probably good without Kidd Rock or whoever doing a concert before the race but folks need to be entertained. Much easier and convenient to watch at home. I agree about the economy Reb plus I look at numbers all day the economy is pretty good unless you don't want it to be and many don't want it to be.. its just easier that way.

Coyne is 150% correct there are lots of other things to do know, I remember in the past local racing on Friday nights was in trouble when football started because that was half the crowd so the season ended right around that time. Now no matter the day there are so many things to do that cost money that folks would rather do.

 

Locally same deal on a smaller scale. It gets tough because folks want to be entertained. I am fine with watching the races and buying beer. Most newer fans need music and other things to get their attention.

A challenge I see at CTS is with the huge number classes going into a race night (I know race more often that's not the point here) keeping folks attention gets tough. When yellow start flying I see the energy drain and after long they head to the turnstiles and may not ever come back because it drags out and gets boring.

 

NASCAR needs to do well it helps us here in the grass roots, folks see that and hunt down a track to see how it looks in person. I agree with Reb that we need to promote the hell out of this sport however we can. Show the cars off, run your mouth, sign autographs that's what we need to do. Someone was laughing at me one night because we were in a group talking a a lady came up and I whipped out a sharpie and a picture asked her what her name was ans signed it. She had no idea who I was but does now. Promote, promote, promote. Can't lay it all on the tracks that costs money, trust me. We need to play too to grow. COTA was a hit the first year now it's just another traffic weekend in Austin so now Taylor Swift is going to be there to entertain because just the race concept got stale to the folks.

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Forget NASCAR. I think NASCAR hurts local racing. I love racing and used to not ever miss a race on TV. Now I can't stay awake through a race or even watch one. Television needs to go to tracks like Kennedale,Devils Bowl , Cotton Bowl, Shady Oaks and South Texas Speedway to name a few to see what real racing is.The Boone Nationals should be on network.Think about it. A racing event that draws 800+ cars!Over 7 days! It is no secret why the Truck race at Eldora is now one of the most anticipated race NASCAR has.Local tracks would do better to advertise they are NOT like NASCAR! The racing is better at your local track!

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I know what you mean but once you get those of us that love racing there you still need more. That's exactly my point to get people there and grow the fan base we need Kyle Busch and all those dudes. We cannot get new people to give a rip about about local stuff. Other than we that do this those events on TV would be watched by us and nobody else. 800 cars is great but if fans don't know who they are they don't care.

Race fans that are only TV race fans will never give us a chance if we don't embrace whatever NASCAR that's a lot like the track bashing on social media. Can look at it like a mother in law deal, ain't gotta love it just know it's there and what it's role is.

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Its not just racing in general that's losing fan base its the automotive and transportation market in general. Remember back in the 60's,70's,80's and first part of the 90's mechanics were a dime a dozen and high schools had auto classes that peaked interest into teenagers about having a muscle car or hot rod. These days everything is about technology and its very hard to find a mechanic or technician to bring into the business these days. Theres not very many auto classes left at high schools (only ones I knew of in Austin were Crockett, Johnston and Reagan which are your lower income blue collar schools). Kids don't want chevelles, el caminos, firebirds, Camaros, mustangs, chargers cars of the past. They want their goofy looking jacked up pick up truck with low profile tires and neon lights. You have to give the people of today something to relate to. One reason diesel events have become such a big deal the past couple of years because people can relate. I tell people come watch me race and I hear who wants to sit the stand and just watch cars go down the track or when I say come to Cotton Bowl and watch the Sprint Cars and they say I don't feel like sitting in the stands for hours just to watch cars go in circles when I can be doing so much other stuff. I had someone ask me about my racing this weekend and they where like so you drag race you just go straight and who gets their first wins, that sounds boring. I said maybe it does to you but when you start understanding all the little details of the run and what goes on (which I broke down for them) they became more intrigued. There next question was do you race in san Antonio and I said we plan too some time this year and they said let us know we will be there and want to see this. The big thing is explain whats going on and teach the people they want to know about racing and can relate to what is going on.

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You got that right! The tough part is lots of these newer vehicles you have to have the technology to be able to work on them. Used to be a tool box full of sockets, wrenches etc and the timing light was hi tech lol!!!! Now a dealer or upper end shop seem to be the only ones that can work on them looks really complicated under the hood of these cars now.

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Maybe with all this new technology in the automotive area us old timers should just watch weeds grow, or paint dry.....LOL

 

Hey R-Rod.....next week while you're announcing watch for how many people are busier watching their i-phones/pads/tablets....Just curious.

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THE best answer I have seen here in most of the responses ..got to get the fans involved personally. something cts has done many times is meet and greet ..it is amazing just how many fans come out onto the track . yep take some time but worth every minute of that time , it puts folks right in the mix and they become more of a fan knowing the drivers are friendly and are human ..it gives the fan a new perspective . the best fan is the one who knows a racer instead just a car number ..an more and more in todays world it is up to the drivers and teams to do every thing they can toget out there and pull those fans in from john Q public . the old saying its the tracks duty to draw the fans is old news you cant take a track to a mall parking lot so out of sight out of mind ..

Edited by HiTech

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Not going to mention any track names but a big track I grew up at runs 6-8 lap heats, B feature and 15 lap a features on normal night. It's not just time trials and all long features.

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Just a fact about fuel prices. Fuel prices across the US are down. However!!! Racing fuel is not regulated like pump gas, it has NOT come down. Todays average across the country is $11 per gallon for leaded 110 octane. Race gas is still made the same way as before so why does the price of race fuel not drop? Because someone found a way to make more money off of it. The problems go way beyond purse or tech, that is an argument that will go on long after we are driving flying cars. Hell many of us raced trophy dashes where there was no pay, just a little trophy. Racing has become about $$$. You can not find any failing series or track that $$$ is not the root problem, one way or another. How many series as Jay mentioned above have multi million dollars in profits? All of them. How many of them put most all of it back into the series? None of them. Its not hard to see, anyone with any finance and legal snap can find the public documents. Racing has become the modern day WWE. The quality sucks, more hype and drama, glamour and glitz added to draw in fans, tv stations and sponsor opportunities so that the chairmen or person can reep the benefits. Politics are a fixed part of racing, deals are made by those with the big $$$ that 99.9% have an ill effect on those without the $$$. You can say what you like about the top tier series in all sports venues, but the truth is, the money is the downfall of EVERY one of them. No, i dont know how to fix it but as long as folks watching Nascar, NHRA, F1, and all the others believe that THAT is how racing is, local level stuff will never rebound.

 

Think of it like this, most of your friends who DONT race and are Nascar fans would rather watch the big one at talledega then a 4 car battle at martinsville with no contact. People are more interested in drama then what real racing is.

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No, i dont know how to fix it but as long as folks watching Nascar, NHRA, F1, and all the others believe that THAT is how racing is, local level stuff will never rebound.

 

 

That sums it up . Meet and greets is a great idea.Anything to get the fans involved. Milton at intermission used to pick a few fans and do Simon Says. A good announcer can make intermission interesting and fun.

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My race fuel is 1.80 from the pump...More power than 110 race fuel, more cooling than race fuel, and has saved us 1700 bucks in fuel for the car alone. Ill let you figure it out. The issue has been said over and over and over but we all still miss a few key points. Advertisement is no longer just on the tracks shoulders. We as drivers have to be willing to not only go out into the communities and make people aware of racing but do it with some pride and enthusiasm. Drivers have to spend the money to make their rides look good for people to look at. Drivers need to not force but "force" the racing scene in places that wouldn't normally get the memo. We as drivers need to put payouts and costs to the back and the desire to enjoy and show fans our desire to get them to have a desire to watch to the front. Its been said many times get the fans involved but like those above have said we need to get personal with the fans and communities. When we did the Tribute to the Troops we took the car to every base in town, car dealership and even restaurants to promote all we could.. And guess what happened? We filled the stands. Yes the cause was for the wounded troops but it worked..That died when 37 shutdown. The point is we need to do more on our part. The tracks need to forget about making money beyond paying the bills and get the balance set so that prices are more appealing to the fans in all areas while keeping drivers happy at the back window. Its a big compromise that cant be done by the tracks alone. The cost of racing alone is too high then add on registrations and the cost of the back gate for teams. The mentality is not what it needs to be in my opinion. So the ripple effect goes from the track to the drivers to the fans and back. The circle needs to be broken somehow and its not one or the other..It has to be all of us.. Team of drivers as a community..We need to get over our selves and stop acting like pre-modonnas running for thousands of dollars complaining about track surfaces and tech this and tech that and rules this and rules that without having or being part of the solution on a POSITIVE level. Which means social media crap ,that is seen by all the people in the world, needs to stop. Fans dont want to hear about that crap that goes on behind the scenes. My point is there is no magical answer..but there are ways to fix it. And laziness and self-centered attitudes and pointing fingers is not it. As for Track Promoters and what they need to do? Im not one to tell them how to do thier job if they dont already know or are already trying. But tracks and drivers and fans have to be one big family somehow.

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A classic style American restaurant here in Boerne puts on a "Hot Rod Night" car show 2 Saturdays a month. When we are not racing, my friends and I take our dwarfs down there. It is a big hit with the crowd to see the race cars. We promote the local race events as much as we can. Things like that can help a lot.

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One thing I am working on right now is taking my racecar to a couple of AISD schools. The thing is you just cant show up with it you have to tie it into what is being taught at that time. My wife is a 1st grade teacher and is very active in our racing program. We have tried to find a way to bring the car to school to show the students but being first grade its hard to tie into what is being taught. Next year she is moving to 4th grade and is teaching math and science and the teacher she is team teaching with (coincidentally her father has a SCCA car) and they are already working together to be able to bring both racecars up there and teach the kids about the cars and how their education can go towards these things. When I raced trucks with the USRA and ARTS I was very active with the JRA Kids Club at THR. I did the Round Rock 4th of July Parade, Austin Children's Hospital, and a few other events. My mother works for a neurological hospital that helps treat youths with learning disabilities. The did a program one time during the month of May where the kids had to read 500 books and they would get to meet a racecar driver. Well they achieved the goal and we took the racetruck to the campus and showed it off to them and signed autographs. The kids were just blown away. We went into the cafeteria where the kids a cookies and treats that they made and myself, my father, and my mother did a Q&A with the kids which was pretty neat. My mother was then known as the racing lady across the facility campus. With the Sprint Series of Texas the drivers hand out a signed checkered flag to a kid in the stands, whichever kid in the stands has the flag signed by the winning driver they get to come down to the frontstretch and have their picture taken in Victory Lane. They also get a t-shirt that is signed by all the drivers. After the races the top 3 cars go behind the grand stands and sign autographs and take photos with the kids and fans, I've been apart of it twice and its pretty cool. We won in Abilene last year the little girl my driver picked was their first time to the races now they go all the time and are always checking in with us on our Facebook page( I attached a copy of our winners circle photo with her in it). If you can get the kids involved they will bug their parents to death to come back to the races, I have seen it happen. I don't know if CTS still has a kids club anymore as I haven't been out there in 3 years but if they don't they ought to look into it. I always remember the bike races and other things that the kids club did and that helped the track. Look at the kids club back from the Longhorn days and look how many of those kids still go to the races today or are somehow still involved.

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