From the Staging Lanes | June '08

BY: ISAAC DEHAAN

 It’s hard to believe that it is almost the middle of June and racing season here in the Midwest is in full swing. WMSD has had 2 events already, the oval tracks are running every weekend, and even the ¼ mile guys are running too. There is great racing to both participate in and attend as a spectator Friday, Saturday, Sunday as well as even some nights during the week around here. Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a race fan as well as a racer.

My wife and I took a recent Friday evening to attend an ADRL sanctioned event at US 131/Knoll Gas Motorsports Park. It’s nice to get out on a date with your significant other and get to watch some great drag racing at the same time. The price was right too, with about 4,500 tickets given away across the area for free. The only cost to get in the race was $10 for parking. What a deal!! The rain hampered the evening somewhat, but the racing we did see was top notch. During a rain delay, as soon as the racing was suspended, immediately the officials discounted the event T-shirts by $5. This might not seem like much, but the souvenir trailer was packed until the next pair of cars went down the track and, most importantly, it kept people at the track.  This got me thinking about challenges facing tracks and promoters this summer. With $4 per gallon gasoline, almost $5 per gallon diesel, and a possible shortage of race fuel; promoters and tracks alike are having to work harder to draw both spectators and racers to their facilities.

Witness the differences between Memorial Day weekend at WMSD and the second race held June 7th. Memorial Day is usually one of the biggest holiday weekends at WMSD and this one was no exception. Around 150 racers showed up for some really good race action. However, June 7th was another story. 80 racers made for a short evening at the race track, with the spectator count reflecting the number of cars. June weekends are always difficult to plan races for, with any number of high school or college graduations and open houses to attend. The gas and fuel price situation sure didn’t help any either. In laymen’s terms, it kind of looks like this; whatever you normally do you are going to have to try harder and possibly different things than what you have done in the past to get people out to the tracks this summer. At the WMSD Pro Truck Shootout in July someone is bringing in a “bounce house” for the kids to keep busy during the racing, at the ADRL show they had a three-seat dragster for rides between qualifying rounds, and at I-96 Speedway they have a two-seater sprint car and a late model. That is getting the spectators involved and keeps them coming back.

Now, on to the other topic, gas/fuel. Listen, there is not one thing I can do to help you out at the pump, but be creative folks. If you have back to back races, maybe leave the race car and trailer at the track or find a secure place nearby you can keep it until the next race. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the track, that way you can run 68mph instead of 75mph on the way there. Pick your races; I have to do this and I know a lot of other people that are too. I would love to have you make every race your little right foot desires to attend, but unless you got one heck of a racing budget it’s not going to happen. Pick races that are special events or just special to you. Racing the point series is only cool if you are not filing chapter 13 after the season.

My last topic for now is race fuel. For those of you that don’t know, the official NHRA fuel supplier DOES NOT have enough nitro methane to make it through the season. Torco Race Fuels has halted production on all its race gas formulas, and they don’t know when production will resume. With the majority of race gas floating around Michigan and the rest of the Midwest being distributed by Torco, this could be a major problem for us “sportsman” racers by the end of the summer. Not only are the other guys in the pits using race gas and methanol, but every circle track guy, dirt and pavement as well at the asphalt drag racers as well. A race gas shortage around these parts could prove very costly to all racers by the time the situation is taken care of.

The point of all these things is this, the old attitude of “real racers will find a way” with regard to making it to races and spending their money is no longer going to cut it. There are many places racers and spectators alike can spend their paychecks, and it’s up to all of us to convince them our tracks are that place. Hopefully I’ll have a special report regarding the fuel situation soon, as well as coverage of the 3rd annual Trophy Race and the Chassis Shop Shootout at WMSD.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the staging lanes!

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


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