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.

My plan for 2007 will be hitting most of the races at WMSD, traveling to Missouri for the Big River Sand Drags Open 4X4 event in June, covering the racing at the Liberty, IN $10,000 race in late June, taking in the action at Gravelrama, and who knows what else. If you have a race you would like me to attend, cover, or just ideas or suggestions for this column, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I will be happy to attend any race as long as something can be worked out with my editor, seeing as I don’t have an expense account!!  

Now, down to the real “dirt” or sand shall we say. When I had this column in the past on the former MSDN site this was the time of the year that I would talk about new cars, who’s moving around class wise, and things like that. This year has been very different in that regard because it is January 12 and we have no snow on the ground what so ever plus I have absolutely no news of “new” cars being built or bought as well as no people moving around. What does that mean? I believe it means, around here at least, things are a little stagnant on the racing front. There is a lot of uncertainty in the economy and people don’t have the “discretionary” income to fund new cars and such so they are staying put or limiting their involvement. With a 12 race schedule this coming year at WMSD, one more race than 2006, it leaves very few weekends for other things; like family get togethers, work picnics, and regular old vacations. Without a drop, meaning all 12 races count towards the point total, it forces racers to make choices about where and how they will spend their money. This is also the first year I can remember where there were few, if any, sportsman cars for sale at the end of the year. This indicates racers are not moving up to the pro classes and there are not many cars out there for somebody looking to get into the sport at the sportsman level. Without new racers, our sport will not survive regardless of what track or sanctioning body you run with.  

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.

Isaac DeHaan ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )


National Sand Drag News © 2017 | TB Web Development