I also raced and owned cars in the 60's and 70's and as much as I loved the sport watched
the small guy get slowly beat out of bussiness by money. Frankie S. said it best back when
"these store bought cars are gonna kill modified racing", if wall or any other track makes these
stupid rules,under the guiese of "help the little guy",then why don't they make some provision
to make the used tires availible to the little guy? Then they could rescan those and control
the cost. The gas deal is just stupid,unless they sell it cheaper than a gas station does.
I know next to nothing about the financial side of running a track, but my guess, and it's only that, is that the reason things are the way they are now (have to buy a certain tire, have to buy a certain fuel, etc.), compared to the way they were when everyone ran what they wanted... buy whatever you wanted wherever you wanted... is because most tracks no longer have enough of a front gate (I'm talking regular $15 or $20 a night paying fans.)
I can only imagine that the owner/lease holder of a speedway has a certain amount of fixed expenses (mortgage/taxes or rent, insurance, electric, permits, track equipment) and the expenses that occur with each event (staff, track prep, operational expenses of track equipment, etc.) and of course, the purse. (Note: all of the expenses mentioned with the possible exception of the purse are incurred even on those nights where they attempt to run, but end up getting rained out.)
Back in the day, I'm thinking that the front gate (fans in the stands) paid for most everything (the expenses, the purse, and even the end of the year points funds.)
Unfortunately over the last few decades, the cost has grown exponentially, while the size of the front gate is in some cases 1/3rd of what it was those same decades ago. I think few of us are really aware of how close some tracks are to having a "pay to play" show, meaning, 100% of the cost of the show is on the back of the participants and the charade of having fans pay to watch them play is just about over... Don't get me wrong... there is still some great racing to be seen at some short tracks and there are still some very exciting divisions... But all too often, the track will stick in a few "stiff divisions" that don't have "fan value" and next thing you know... the show's too long... there's not enough excitement value... and fans stop going.
That's why tracks are so willing to add classes... The fans sit and shake their head and say, "Are you freakin' kidding me... another division?) And at the same time the owner/promoter has to look at it as a new revenue stream by saying, "Let's see... each car that shows up will have to pay for a pit spot, and each crew member will have to buy a pit license... X 3 or 5 crew members per each car... plus each night they are here, they'll have to pay admission.... So very quickly, each "new car" in each "new class" becomes a quick $200 everytime they show up to run.
Charging for pit spots, pit licenses, certain tires, certain fuels... "buy ins" to the field when you don't qualify but still want to "play"... all are a sign of the shift from front gate paying the freight, to the back gate paying it.
Take away the $'s from the fuel sales that go back into some kind of fund, or that go to the track in the form of a fuel vendor fee, and you now put more of the burden directly on each participant. Same goes for the tires.... and all the other "collective" fees that they end up paying over time. While we're at it, take away all those classes mentioned that provide less fan appeal and get back to a 2 or at the most, a 3 division show.... And If you did that, you'd probably find that you'd have to charge each car/driver that shows up about $400 - $500 just to pull in the pits to race.
I don't think you'd have too many guys continue racing if they looked at it that way...
Like I said, I'm no expert, but I think the solution (if there is one, and that's a really, really big "if") is to fix the show so that it becomes a viable choice for today's entertainment dollar. I'm not talking about just moving the show along faster... having exceptional announcers/hosts... but I'm talking about moving away from the traditional heats/consi/feature format and have more events that get the fans more involved by focusing the action on just a few competitors at at time, kinda of like match races, but with even more "buy in" for the fans by assigning a competitor to specific sections of the stands, so that they have a reason to care.... (That's just one idea... more "out of the box" ideas are needed... and we can't continue to do the same thing just because that's always how we did it...)
Summary: I don't think there is a big enough fan base left to support any kind of an "owner/promoter" association. I think the only hope is for tracks to focus on making the show so compelling, unpredictable and fun that people will want to be there and more importantly will want to comeback. Putting more fans in the stands will take some of the pressure off the current "pay to play" model that most tracks have had to move to. 3 Wide
Ray,I run Sportsman at Wall and we do not have a tire bank as the Mods do.If I was running Mod,I wouldn't have a problem with the bank.It does help at Wall with the expendature.The low buck guy can keep up with the big $$$$$$$ boys in this case.If you need more details,pm me.
Very interesting topic.I was not surprised when I read the story in AARN.
I ran wall many years ago and won a mod feature there.
We were a really low budget team and tried to get 2 weeks + out of our tires,softener on the 3rd week....yep
Our motor was basically a balanced ,bore legal motor with a Lunatti cam.
We ran aviation gas"Yes AVIATION GAS"100ll with a small amount of lead additive
We were usually up front unless a political deal was used.
That particular night we won the heat and main,beat the top five motor builers who were gonna put up teardown $$$$$$.
The tech rep knew the motor and when he said u will be embarressed to see what beat u....
Point is the car handled well,I was not aggressive against my fellow competitors.
I did not beat on their bumpers etc.
We ran well,but at a low $ budget.
There are a few guys who run av gas still today.
Soooooooo maybe the motor heads who are charging a fortune for a motor along with the others could tune for the use of the AV gas.
Of couse they will give 200 reasons why not.
See same mentality.
A motor parts spec rule should be put in to reduce the cost.
Maybe even a claimer rule....wouldn't that be cooll.
Bring the field closer together...
Harder compound,burn a date in the tire and say 2 weeks on a set,unless damaged in an event,u will still sell tires.
Someone has to give to get people on the some what same level,Have teams get together towards the end of a season for a pow wow and ideas on $ the cost of it all suggesstions to reduce that etc,just do not let the track dictate things or the motor buiders or big $ teams...
Pull the politics out.
Now the front gate... Do a better job of spending $ on good sound promotions.
Alot of what is done with the politics of on track stuff effects the fans.
More local company sponsorship with well greased promotions to increased a fan base.
New first time fans.
Local community support.
Have the 50/50 be done by various groups each week,pulled from local groups in the surrounding communities.etc.
Get an trade of promotion package put together with the shore merchants to help all involved in this seasonal business.I can think of alot of things to reduce team cost and generate more from gate $.
Geeee New Egypt does get it.
They seem to be family oriented,they have a formula for the overal promotion.
Plus the on tack NO Favorite set up.
So now we can only wonder where,scanning tires and all the other stuff comes from
the pit officials need to get on the same page,with all involed
I and a couple friends have tried for some time to get a special "Coupe and Sedan night at Wall,Just coupes and sedans,have an early auto graph session with guys who actually drove those cars there.
Tie it in with the Garden State Classic.
Advertise the event ,etc etc.
Fans don't wanna see a modern car lap the field in a 10 lap exhibition of vintage cars.
I understand even those events are on car count numbers.
I would hope that that historic track will find the combination to survive,and be a success for the the promotor and everone involved.
Sometimes people gotta speak up,like I just did