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NickHolt

Thoughts on the future of asphalt stock car racing in Texas

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sam has a point ...motors cost have skyrocketed ...I thought going to crate motors in the lower classes was not a good idea .it did not save anyone a dime .but when some one can afford one the others who cant have to find a way to step it up or run in the back or park em ... .. 61 trying to make rules to keep those who can from doing so will work . a track just needs a place to pull a motor and the tech and the will power to do the checking ..and with a rule they can tear it down and not pay for the gaskets ...but local tracks wont or cant afford the proper place or tech people to get the job done ...plus add the time it will take ..but either way the cost of racing isn't cheap .never has been .with the purses as they were 20 years ago and In some cases less that then and the bills costing the tracks more and racers more the balance is getting further and further away .it is killing racing then add the lack of our local young folks spending money on fine paint jobs lowering kits . big powerful music systems cute lights under to car instead of race cars does not help. racing hasn't figured a way to tap into the newer cars ....racing is in a quagmire right now it lost appeal outside of the hard knocks like us .it is still in between old and new ..

Edited by HiTech

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Regarding a "new business model".... Find a successful asphalt short track anywhere in the U. S. (And yes, there are plenty). Look very closely at "everything" they are doing and start with that. Why reinvent the wheel? Racers are racers, fans are fans, everywhere you go. The market potential is huge in Texas. And the economy is pretty darn strong in the SA/Austin area compared to areas where many strong short tracks are located. I don't get it.

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Regarding a "new business model".... Find a successful asphalt short track anywhere in the U. S. (And yes, there are plenty). Look very closely at "everything" they are doing and start with that. Why reinvent the wheel? Racers are racers, fans are fans, everywhere you go. The market potential is huge in Texas. And the economy is pretty darn strong in the SA/Austin area compared to areas where many strong short tracks are located. I don't get it.

I don't disagree with you but it is not instant success by doing it this way either. Any business takes time to become successful and deep pockets are required to keep it afloat. Hopefully, a tenant can be find that has good business experience and doesn't expect an instant return on investment. I keep hoping!

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I hate to say it but you can be cost effective all you want but racers are still going to spend money in a non cost effective way. Racers are the ones that price themselves out of the market not the tracks. Remember when the pro late models were supposed to be the cost effective class. They had GM crate engines that were "sealed". Then a rebuilder found more horsepower by changing valve springs and some other things. So then you bought a crate motor from GM then send it off to a "certified" rebuilder and spend another couple thousand dollars to be competitive because if you stayed stock you just ran in the back. Tell racers they have a tire rule and they go spend more money on shocks. Make a shock rule and someone will come up with the next latest and greatest thing that will make the racers spend more money. Hell look at CTS Super Stock, there's some cars in that class that might as well be PLM's for as much money is in the racecar. There's always going to be that one driver that out spends everyone in the class, and once that person starts winning then people are going to have to have the same things he does to be competitive.

 

That's been the history for as long as I can remember, Josh. I'm just looking for common-sense ways to stop the bleeding even if it means significant change. What we have been doing for the past 50 years just plain is not working any more.

 

Nick.

 

Josh is 101% correct. Sounds similar to what i try telling folks. And yes Nick, we all want to know what the secret setup is to a successful track. But let me put this out there to ponder.

 

While a lot of you guys and/or girls are trying to reinvent the wheel, lets remember a overlooked fact. CTS did not close because of a failing financial plan. On the contrary in my opinion I think it was doing ok. I dont know the book keeping end but Id be willing to bet if it was not working Mr. Self would of been gone long ago. The reason for him choosing to stop running the facility was to put all of his eggs in the one basket. I didnt read anywhere that it was due to financial trouble. So with the karts, monthly festivals and concerts and the monthly racing, it seemed to be doing ok. If it started right back up tomorrow and ran under the exact same setup I truly believe it would have the same success. There are some issues to help make it better of coarse but the most important thing to look at is the sport, not you. Its what is best for the sport to survive and thrive not what is best for SS # XX. Josh hit the nail on the head, trying to save the racers money is pointless. It doesnt matter the class. Make the racing good in a pleasant environment for the fans and racers and go from there.

Every class could use some attention made to the rules and for that matter on track officiating could be addressed also but those are just small cogs in the wheel. Right now the wheel isnt turning so deciding what the tooth count on each cog should be is irrelevant. Get the wheel spinning then move forward.

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I've said this for a long time.....and, of course, no one listens...

 

WAY TOO MANY CLASSES!

There's only XX amount of sponsorship dollars available in every area.....If it gets split up by 10 classes that may cover just a handful of cars per class......NOW.....if you reduce classes to, say, 4/5......Then the available money goes to double the amount of cars per class.....Same math applies to the track payout.....Better pay outs, more cars can fix stuff and be back next week.

 

The biggest class killer is money spent on cars.....$3000 motors are now $15000....$5000 motors are now $25000.....Racers have, in some ways, done this to themselves.....and I'm sorry but $5000 shock packages are freaking insane.....Ya, technology is great for those that can afford it....Others it takes its toll financially and the fun OUT of racing.

 

Until these issues are addressed racing, in any form, is going to struggle....It just hit the asphalt side first here....I don't think<<key word alert>> that costs can back up to where they once were.....Yes I realize EVERYONE wants their class to run, but that's just not viable.

 

If a track could come up with a slate of one high-priced/high-speed class, one high end Street Stock class, one beginner Street Stock class, then maybe one rotating special event class(IE; Trucks, Mods, Super Lates) I believe it would be far more beneficial to the track/racers/fans....

 

I know, I know....

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This is a very good observation. But I think there is another thing most racers don't want to accept. Too many tracks have very little passing and action. What fans see is a cheaper version of NASCAR. Which is single file, follow the leader racing. I see this on dirt and asphalt. When I am traveling, I usually will choose to see a dirt track instead of asphalt because sometimes there is more grooves and action. Most asphalt tracks and some dirt tracks will have time trials and a 50 lap feature for about 10-15 cars. Usually with fast qualifier on the pole. It is often very boring. Hardcore fans will pay to watch it. But it is a killer for tracks to bring new fans back for more or keeping the casual fan coming every week. There is not enough Hardcore fans anywhere in the country to support a track alone. They have to get the new and casual fans to the track. The best success I have been seeing is on dirt tracks in the north where racers are inverted. Even in North Dakota where the oil bust has hit very hard they were getting good crowds weekly. At many of the races I went to there, the winner started at the back of the field.

 

When I grew up in the 70's in Missouri, we only had a few asphalt tracks. Sometimes only 10-15 late models would show up. But the lineups were inverted for the heats and features based on points average. The stands would be full and many would not sit down for the first half of the 20 lap feature while Larry Phillips, Terry Bivens, and Mark Martin would have to maneuver through the field. Those first 10 laps would be worth the money for admission. But now to keep drivers happy, we get rid of heat races and run time trials and longer features. The fans are obviously not happy or they would be coming back. This is in my belief where we need to start with promoters sitting in the stands and seeing what the fans see and talking to them. If we get the fans back, then we could afford to keep the tracks open. Also cutting down on classes will bring more cars per class.

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Like Cory said the track didn't close because lack of finances, drivers or fans in the stands. The track closed because the owner wanted to put all of his eggs into his son's racing career. Makes logical sense, NASCAR is not cheap and they own the team. Cutting extra expenses is one way to save a race team money. Think about what Mr. Self was having to pay each month in rent, taxes, insurance, bills, payroll. Since he freed all of that up he can put that into his racing program. I understand the way it happened was kind of a messed up deal but I also understand why he did it.

 

Also comparing tracks around here to tracks in North Dakota is not the same. Think about all the extra activities you can do around here compared to what you can do in North Dakota. I remember when dad ran the drag strip in Midland. Their Friday night shows in the spring till mid August were packed, then Friday night football in the Permian Basin kicked off and their numbers went down. So they worked their schedule around that to maximize income.

Edited by Josh42

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Also comparing tracks around here to tracks in North Dakota is not the same. Think about all the extra activities you can do around here compared to what you can do in North Dakota. I remember when dad ran the drag strip in Midland. Their Friday night shows in the spring till mid August were packed, then Friday night football in the Permian Basin kicked off and their numbers went down. So they worked their schedule around that to maximize income.

There is some truth in that, but I also don't place as much emphasis on it as others

 

Why?

 

Because you have a much larger population to draw from.

 

You don't have to get 100% of the people, but you should be able to get a ?% of them, and fill the seats

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Like Cory said the track didn't close because lack of finances, drivers or fans in the stands. The track closed because the owner wanted to put all of his eggs into his son's racing career. Makes logical sense, NASCAR is not cheap and they own the team. Cutting extra expenses is one way to save a race team money. Think about what Mr. Self was having to pay each month in rent, taxes, insurance, bills, payroll. Since he freed all of that up he can put that into his racing program. I understand the way it happened was kind of a messed up deal but I also understand why he did it.

 

Also comparing tracks around here to tracks in North Dakota is not the same. Think about all the extra activities you can do around here compared to what you can do in North Dakota. I remember when dad ran the drag strip in Midland. Their Friday night shows in the spring till mid August were packed, then Friday night football in the Permian Basin kicked off and their numbers went down. So they worked their schedule around that to maximize income.

that is a good point. But I was talking about tracks closing all over the country right now. I have only moved to texas this past year. And although I have visited almost every track in texas at some point in my life. The track in Kyle is one I have never visited. So I have no way of judging how it was ran.

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At the moment, in my opinion, HMP would be the one we need to get up and going. Lots of reasons and many of them make sense.

But that's easier said than done.

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At the moment, in my opinion, HMP would be the one we need to get up and going. Lots of reasons and many of them make sense.

But that's easier said than done.

 

As far as I know, the only obstacle preventing HMP from re-opening the oval (the drag strip is doing great and packing 'em in) is that one of the partners needs to be bought out. The infrastructure is all there and many of the former employees are waiting in the wings for something to happen. I know a couple of announcers and a few race directors who are willing to travel from wherever once it does re-open.

 

All it takes is someone with enough money to buy David Baker out. Graham Baker is a racer through and through and would love to have the oval back in operation.

 

Nick

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I have been around racing for around forty years, I grew up along the Ohio, Pa border where you could see racing 4 nights a week.

I've run asphalt, and dirt. Recently I was ready to go from driving to leasing a local track to see if the model that I was thinking of would work.

My thoughts were more towards bring fans into the stands and making it a family friendly atmosphere. Lets face it most families are not going to enjoy having the kids out late on sat nights and if the show runs long they leave early and usually don't come back.

I was working on a show that I think would work:

Run a Sunday afternoon show 2:00 to 6:00

Make it family friendly, special things for kids to be involved in, play area, ect.

(Give Mom and Dad a place to take the kids, picnic atmosphere. maybe picnic tables and pits) Mom and Dad still have there time Sat nights.

The races need to run on time and not drag out no long intermissions.

If less than ten cars no heat races. Heat races should have a minimum of ten cars. There should be incentives in the heats

No more than 4 classes, one should be a entry class (4 cylinder, less than a thousand to build, stock motored)

Races inverted by points. (gives the fans something to watch)

Rules enforcement (equal and fair) and actual teching .

As far as gate entry I was looking at a by the carload gate. 15.00 to 20.00 per car as many people as you can fit.

Special events in the fans area. Ie; car shows or bike shows more of a Carnival setting.

 

I know i'm not the best at expressing my ideas, but without the family involvement racing will continue to decline.

I was real close to leasing a local track to do this but 30 yrs of neglect have created a financial cost thats not feasible with out a large repair investment.

I do know heat has to be taken into consideration, but i have also been in a car showing over 160* on Sat afternoon.

I think it has to be something outside the box to bring the base back to racing.

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The Sunday afternoon time slot has proven hard to sustain from the spectator side of things. Racers will race whenever, wherever, but getting fans into the stands in the afternoon with no shade in Central / South Texas is a hard sell.

 

Feel free to give it a whirl, though, Pumpkin29.

 

Nick

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I knew the heat thing would be a hard sell, but most tracks don't have shade,

TRP , CTS, SOS I was looking at a way of shading the stands . We don't look at making the fans comfortable.

If you sit in most stands after an hour you gotta get up and stretch. My plan was improving the spectator side.

I know years ago Tony Stewarts dirt track in Sharon, PA. had one of the nicest grandstands I had seen. fully covered.

Its like you said doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Some thing has to change.

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