Short Track Racing | A Vision Of Our Sport’s Future: Part 1 – Introduction
I am a dedicated short track racer and short track racing fan. I race New England asphalt Modifieds on a weekly basis and it is rare for me to not be in the grandstands of an auto racing event on at least one other night of the week.
I grew up in a racing family and have been around the sport since I was a child. I have been to thousands of auto racing events and I’ve seen the sport from a variety of different angles: playing the role of a driver, family car owner, crew chief, crew member, racecar fabricator, track employee, and fan.
I have also been heavily involved in the marketing aspect of my racing program. My most enjoyable project has been creating my video series called Short Track Racer which is a reality-based show that follows my life as a local racer. Short Track Racer has since evolved into a multimedia, lifestyle, and community website for local racing enthusiasts.
What I’m trying to reveal about myself in these opening sentences is that my life revolves around short track auto racing. In addition to that, I am part of the “millennial” generation, which is the most important group of people our sport has to attract. Therefore, I know the wants and needs of a race team and I have a firm grasp as to what it takes for people to to enjoy attending a motorsports event.
The Future of Short Track Auto Racing
Let’s not hide from it. Let’s not sugar coat it. Short track auto racing has been in a popularity decline in recent years. Grandstands, pit areas, and car counts are low and appear dreary. There is also less interest shown from vendors, media people, volunteers, marketing partners, followers, etc. Racing facilities are continuously shutting down. The future of the sport shows great uncertainty and I have yet to see any noticeable strides taken to reverse this downfall.
Let me clarify something right away: I’m not writing this to knock short track auto racing. My intent is not to be negative. We can call this a memo or a mission statement, or better yet a vision statement because I want to expose the potential of short track racing since I see this as the greatest sport in the world. I want to shed some light on the negatives dragging the sport down because modern day track owners and promoters seem to be stagnant with regard to the future of the sport. I would simply like to share some of my vision and suggest promoters to refocus their approach.
Now I understand that there are a large amount of road blocks that are hindering a race track’s ability to develop. Crippling liability insurance, complaining neighbors, and increasing land values all diminish the flow of a venue’s progress. Beyond that, other entertainment industries are making improvements to enhance their fan experience which will only make the battle more difficult. Above all, our nation is enduring a very slow economic recovery. Auto racing is considered one of the most expensive forms of organized sport so the effects of any economic downturn are sure to be felt in this industry more than others. Unfortunately, the short track racing world did not position itself for the economic storm.
That’s the bad news. Now the good news: There will always be a need for entertainment and few forms of entertainment are more enjoyable than short track auto racing. Drivers, car owners, team members, track employees, and race fans can all get maximum satisfaction from being around the sport… with the right people making it happen. We may not have positioned ourselves to handle the past economic recession, but we can certainly plan to propel the sport to incredible heights in the next 10 years.
The entertainment aspect of short track racing is already present. The sport grasps the emotions of everybody involved. There is no shortage of drama and controversy while the element of danger makes the sport exceptionally fascinating. There are fights and underdog stories. It engages our minds and legitimizes our competitive nature. We see inspiring moments while witnessing history take place in front of our eyes. In short track auto racing, we do not have to create storylines; the drivers and teams do it themselves. That’s what makes the sport interesting. Speedway Illustrated writer Karl Fredrickson put it best when he stated, “No other activity offers such thrill, risk, challenge, and sense of accomplishment than racing does.”
So the foundation is there. However, new age promoters need to highlight these aspects all while evolving their product to connect with new age fans.
There is no single problem or area of concern that will make this sport become sensational. Lack of foresight and imagination is what is impeding short track racing from becoming a vast phenomenon. In reality, the majority of our speedways are lacking in ALL areas.
I have broken the issues down to nine categories that need revamping. These are:
-Visual Appeal and Attractions
-Racer, Owner, and Team Interest
-Fan Interest, Entertainment, and Youth Engagement
-Divisions and New Racer Captivation
-Facility Uses and Extra Activities
-The Movement and Communication Between Tracks
Click here for Part 1 – Introduction