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Re: What changes would you like to see in race track operations?

3-Wide says:
February 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Here’s my response as posted on my site. ( I understand that there is work to be done with rules to make racing more affordable, and to make it so that a car can be legal at more than just 1 track… and rules about tires… but my feeling is that if somebody doesn’t address what the fan is experiencing, it won’t matter. It will become a pay to play sport with nobody in the stands except the mom or aunt that got stuck with the kids because they were are too young to go in the pits (so somebody had to watch them!)

There’s no magic bullets, but here’s a new place to start looking to fix what’s wrong:

What I’d like to see at a racetrack is an owner and/or promoter who makes it a priority to attend his track as a fan. I mean it… really, as a fan, sitting about 8 rows up…. not with a bunch of buddies… just by himself, no phone… no headset…. no 2 way radio…. just as a fan…(with a notepad and a pencil!)
He shouldn’t tell anyone what he’s up to, and if any of his staff spots him, they should be instructed to LEAVE HIM ALONE FOR THE NIGHT – THAT HE IS NOT TO BE CONTACTED/CONSULTED or DISTURBED. NO RESPONSIBILITY… NO AUTHORITY…. NO CONTROL… For this night, he is “a fan”. Here’s a plan for how he should spend his entire night from the time he arrives, to the time the final checker waves:

1. Park where the fans park… Get there in time for the first scheduled event as per the schedule. Note whether the start time matches the advertised start time.

2. Get and line and get a ticket. Are people being greeted by track staff? Are people being welcomed for coming out to the races? Is there a good, exciting vibe in the air? Or does it seem more like people are just going through the motions…

3. Sit where the fans sit…(not in the tower… not in a pace truck… not wandering the pits and the grounds…. sit in the stands like a fan. Are the stands comfortable? Evaluate what you are looking at. Is it pleasing? Do things look well keep? Is there things for you to look at during the caution periods or other down times? How is the signage? Does the place look alive, or look kind of desolate and barren? (Take notes…)

4. Look at other fans around you… Do they seem to be enjoying the show or do they look like they are being held hostage waiting for something exciting to happen? What do they like? What are they excited by? What do they seem to be bored by? (Take notes…)

5. Listen to the announcer. Can you hear him/them? Is it TOO LOUD? Is what you are hearing friendly, informative, enjoyable? Are they talking too much – too little? Is there a lot of dead air? Are you hearing information that would allow you as a new fan to follow the program (what class – qualifying info – color and/or teasers about driver’s that are in the race that make you want to root for, or pay attention to?) Compare it to what you would expect when watching a TV football or baseball game… Are you getting interesting, relevant information, or are you just being told what it is you are already seeing…(“The cars are in the 2nd turn… now they are on the backstretch… now they are heading into the 3rd turn….”) Is there value in what they are saying? Is what they are saying helping you to be more interested in what is going on? Are they putting teaser’s out there as to what might happen, so that you buy in more and pay attention more to see it happened? (Kind of like when the Baseball play by play guys on TV predict what pitch will be thrown… or what play a team will probably run (football). (Take notes…)

6. Evaluate, “How’s the racing?” Is it interesting, compelling, exciting… or does it just seem like your watching a bunch of guys that paid to have a track session where they are just running lap after lap… or like a practice session where it seems pretty predictable. (Take notes…)

7. Pay attention to the amount of time it takes between the time one race is checkered and the next goes green…. Pay attention to how long it takes when a yellow comes out… and how long it takes before they go green… Does everyone seem to be rowing in the same direction to help get things cleaned up? Does everyone seem to have a sense of urgency to get the cause of the yellow corrected in a safe, yet expeditious way? (Take notes…)

8. Walk down to the concession stand and buy a hamburger, fries and a soda…. Is there a few picnic tables or a place for people to sit down and casually eat their food… If so, take a seat and eat, and evaluate the atmosphere. Once done eating, take a walk and check out anything else that might be set up in the midway (displays, vintage stuff, sponsors stuff, novelty stands.) And yup… use the fan bathroom. (Yup…take notes…)continued......

Re: What changes would you like to see in race track operations?

9. Once back in the stands, notice is there a flow to the program? Does it seem to have a beginning, middle and an end? Does it seem like there is a sense of momentum building as the night moves on… like working toward the 4th quarter of a football game… or the last period of a basketball game or hockey match… or does it seem to have a few peaks with big valleys (slow times) in between. (Take notes…)

10. How was intermission handled? Was it the old model of making it so undesirable that people would feel compelled to leave their seats and go buy a hotdog, or was there still a level of “entertainment” for those who chose to stay in their seats (contest with the kids… giveaways… driver interviews in front of the stands…) Was it too long? Was it “professional?” (Take notes…)

11. Evaluate the “headlining act”… Was it worthy of the title? Was it built up by the announcers as the headliner? Was their event run efficiently? Did it have high value? Did you want somebody to win/or somebody to lose? If you were a first time fan, would you have known that it was the headlining act, or did it seem like just one of many other races that rolled out onto the track? Was that one event worth at least 1/2 of the admission price?

12. How was victory lane handled? Too short? Too long? Too detached from the majority of fans? Was it fan friendly or did the importance seem to be more on it being photographer/sponsor friendly? (Take notes…)

13. Finally, at the end of the night… get up… grab your blanket… head straight for your car/truck and go home and review your notes….

14. Over the next 3 days, create a list of necessary changes… Over the next week, get people who can help implement and manage the “new ideas”…. Assign staff and/or have staff volunteer to champion each item until all are assigned out to somebody who will make it their responsibility to manage the specific change. Start with the stuff that can be changed right now… and change them. As for the items that will take longer, take the beginning steps so that those ideas are in motion and monitor their progress week over week. Continue to monitor the progress or lack of to all of the changes to see if they are meeting with the desired results. Continue to manage and adjust.

15. Every 2nd week, spend the entire night in the stands again. Look for what is improving, and look at what is still in need of fixing…

Recap: If as the owner/promoter of the track you get to the point where you wish you could just sit in the stands EVERY WEEK… because the show is so compelling, unpredictable and fun…. then congratulate yourself on a job well done! If not, then keep making the adjustments… keep making the improvements until you get to that point.

If you continue to find yourself bored, un-entertained…, and don’t look forward to sitting there, and would much rather be running around with a headset on… or in and out of the pits… or sitting up in a tower somewhere “managing the show”… then consider appointing someone who will sit in the stands and will take on the responsibility of documenting the issues… And then be willing to give that someone the authority and resources that they will need to manage the process and to make the changes that will help grow the sport, spectator side first.


Re: What changes would you like to see in race track operations?

raycer27 says:
February 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm
This email message was sent to me from Joe at 3 Wide, it reads;

The problem with short track racing is the show is not compelling, unpredictable and fun enough to make it as an “entertainment” event which enough of the average public is willing to take time out of their busy schedule to pay money to attend. Until someone takes the lead on fixing it from the spectator side first, it will continue to be a back gate driven sport, meaning the competitors will have to pay more of the share… the show will continue to get less fan friendly (less enjoyable) to the average fan… (a night with many low value races just to satisfy the driver’s “track time” who paid the freight).

Many tracks today don’t even get enough cars to line up a full feature, yet they still have “heat races”… So they’ll sometimes get about 17 cars for what should be a 24 car class… and yet they’ll still run 2 or 3 heats and make the justification for the heats be that the first 5 finishers of each heat get to “draw for the top 10 feature starting spots…The whole time the first time fan… or average fan is sitting there thinking ” Big freakin’ whoop…”

There as to be a reason to run a race… Somebody has to win… Somebody has to lose… Any track that tries to fix things by starting in the pits… and the tech shack.. is doomed to fail.

Joe (aka 3-Wide)

Re: What changes would you like to see in race track operations?

mrwoo says:
February 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

The tracks are naturally money driven.
Yes there is the issue of overhead,insurance,the staff,etc.
The cost to the racers though is out of control,the mid to hi end racer probably does not feel the crunch like the little guy.
Motors are a heavy cost factor,and the crate engines might be helping.
But the motor costs are absoulutely crazy.
All divisions should have a crate motor,same c.i. for a particular class,that would be universal for many tracks.
Tires,fuel and the cars are all a tough nut to deal with from the point of the little guy,and without the little guy, there would only be about 10 or so cars each week.
A lot of the promotors, figure the cost of a pit pass,for owner,driver and at least 4 crew members in on each car, for as many divisions as each track might have,wow the back gate covers the purse,after that the grandstand or gate is usually profit.
Today most promotors have the fuel and the tire concessions also.
Then there are the concession stands,and the sponsors who kick in to the track for the year or by the event.
Look at AC TQ’s indoor racing series,a muffler rule,and I only know about the TQ’s about 80 + cars with a cost of $100.00 plus for each muffler for each car,was it any quieter,not in the least.
As far as fuel,cars must go in empty and no gas allowed in the trailers,all cars,carts etc,and it was about $3 more a gallon,but the fueler was a support sponsor.
Thursdays practice was $50.00 for each of the machines there, TQ’s 80 + and the other divisions,600′s slingshots and go-karts,an estimated 200 race cars.There was an $80.00 per car, pre registration.
There was a $60.00 pit pass per driver, owner, an estimate of a minimum of 4 crew members,also the cost of the food at the concessions stands.
The big tires in the infield,think of the money cost to repair all the cars that got rammed into them by over anxious drivers and on and on.
So the cost is way out there,just for that series.
The average fan does not even like to see all that beating and banging,but I do know the time has come to start putting those drivers and their cars to the rear or out of the race entirely.
Track politics also play into it.
So how do you solve some of the on track stuff,eliminate the politics,HA HA,and the promotors and pit stewards need to step up to the plate and stop showing favoritism to certain drivers.
Also have more vintage coupe and sedan events as well.