From the Staging Lanes
BY: ISAAC DEHAAN
Welcome to the Staging Lanes, for the first of what should be a regular column here on NSDN. For those of you that don’t know me, I have been racing at West Michigan Sand Dragway (WMSD) since 1994, and bouncing around the Midwest checking out some other tracks over the last 2 seasons with more visits to come this summer. I started with a full size 80’s Ford Bronco running 6.0’s, and then stepped up to a 4wd ’31 Ford coupe that ran 4.50’s with a mild small block. Currently I run a ’78 Bronco that runs 4.70’s. I also am the announcer at WMSD, so I get to see a lot of racing over the summer. We are a 3rd generation racing family with my dad running a ’70 Bronco and 4 yr old son running his quad in the Mighty Midgets class at WMSD. It makes for a long race day for us, but we truly enjoy it and look forward to it every year.
So, what is the answer?? I think its time for promoters and track owners to “think outside the box” so to speak. Try new things to bring new racers and spectators in. If racers come, they will bring spectators with them, it’s that simple. Here are some basic ideas I came up with, in no particular order.
- Trophy class-How about a trophy only class, with around a $30 entry fee, 1st and 2nd place trophies at 4-5 races per year and advertise when the class is going to run. This would give new comers a place to try racing out without the fear of running some more experienced people right off the bat. As a track owner or promoter you could run it at races that usually bring in a low car count; not during national events or special weekends.
- Have part of the Test and Tune entry go towards funding your race entry. At our home track, we have Friday night test and tune, which is a separate fee besides your regular race class fee for Saturday. Give a discount on the race fee for Saturday if a racer comes for test and tune Friday night. $5 or $10 may not seem like much, but if it helps bring people in the gate it will be a bigger return.
- Reward your point series racers. Again, take care of the guys and gals that take care of you. Racers that buy their point series numbers have decided to try and make most, if not all of the races. Why should they pay the same entry fee that a guy that shows up 3-4 races a year pays? I am only talking $5-$10 but over a season it tells racers they are important to owners and promoters as well as that they are valued.
- Give out some gate passes. A couple per race isn’t much money, but can pay dividends down the road. If a spectator comes thru the gate, even on a free pass, it is one more person that is more likely to buy shirts, food, programs, drinks, etc. More exposure is good, and that person is much more likely to purchase a ticket next time if they have a positive experience at the track to begin with.
These are just 4 ways to help out, but could pay off big as a future investment. We, as racers, need to do our part too. Good looking race cars, professional looking help (if your car requires crew in staging and starting line help), and treating each other like professionals is big too. You never know when fans are watching, and maintaining a good image is important for all of us. Even what we post on the Internet should be well thought out. Face it some things are better left for the pits or the race track, not where everyone has access to it. That’s my view; see you next month From the Staging Lanes.