A Difference Between Track Bashing and Constructive Criticism
I’ve written about social media in the past and its impact on racing. I’ve thought a lot about it lately, and this question pops into mind:
Is constructive feedback/criticism on social media, Facebook in particular and once in a while on Twitter, the same as just flat out bashing a track?
My answer is no.
Yes, some things should be totally off limits — spreading outright lies about a track or workers, profanity, racial or sexual comments. Or personally attacking a promoter/worker. Those comments have no business anywhere anytime and should be deleted. I get that. Plus, there are the select few that bitch about everything; their could be 30 late models running side by side all night in a tremendous race and they’d gripe.
That isn’t what I am talking about.
Here’s what I am talking about: I think fans who pay admission prices and buy concessions, drivers who invest $10,000s of dollars in their cars (plus many nights of working on their cars, I should add) and pit crew people who pay $30 at the gate have the right to state an opinion on Facebook or social media. To me, constructive feedback to promoters CAN MAKE RACING BETTER. Which is what I think a majority of us want when we offer suggestions. We love the sport and realize it is a tough time for it right now, and want to improve it.
This is about tracks in general across the Midwest -- I don't necessarily agree with this, but this is each track's right; some tracks have pretty strict policies on these type of comments, to the point of some disciplinary actions.
Some tracks are pretty lenient with social media policies, only deleting comments that are vulgar, profane or personally attack a person. I prefer this route, honestly.
Examples of good feedback: Maybe the shows run too long or have too long of delays. Concessions are overpriced. People drinking in a non-alcohol, family section. Smoking in the stands. Maybe input on track prep to make it better. Maybe changing the order of classes to change things up. More activities for kids.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with feedback like that. In today’s world every comment is taken personally and some all across tracks, frankly are too thin skinned. They take all criticism as attacking their track, get defensive and in some cases lose their cool on fans and drivers. Beyond that, a few promoters act like they are Kings of their facilities, and there is a "how dare you?" attitude when it comes to criticism, to the point where they won't listen to anybody anytime. Which is foolish.
Tracks have every right to delete comments on their page since it is theirs, but I hope they listen to the thoughtful critiques with substance. Because there is a value there.
Something I want to share: Late Model Driver Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks had this thoughtful Facebook post a few weeks ago. It didn’t personally attack anybody or any track. It was constructive feedback from talking to two other veteran drivers, and as a guy who has raced for 50 years, he’s earned the right to offer an opinion. He offered this because he wants to make the sport he loves better — and not tear it down.
Corcoran’s post: “Had a great conversation with a couple veteran racers over this past weekend, we touched on many subjects but one really stood out. We all wonder what has happened to track prep, not at any one particular track but at the vast majority in the region. Too many of our tracks put in far to little time working on their tracks during the week which in turn results in last minute race night efforts in trying to save or salvage the racing surface. Too many operations are feeding us one lane tracks early in the evening and thinking (hoping) conditions will improve in time for the features (and they might for one or two of the nights events) but nine of 10 times the track is used up before the premier classes (whichever they might be) hit the track. Now, before anyone views this as an attack hold off, it isn't. Racing in the area is in trouble, crowds are down everywhere (there's lots of reasons and opinions why) and competition for entertainment dollars is at an all time high. Tracks have to offer an entertaining program and concessions at a fair price in order to compete, a couple hundred fans coming in the front gate isn't enough to make a program successful, and relying on the back gate to make up the difference doesn't make sense either, but, it is how lots of tracks survive and ends up being the reason for tracks running 5-8 classes of cars every week. Back to my original point, I've done track prep, I know it's not easy or an exact science but it seems that there isn't as much effort put into it as I remember, the guys that are good at it will tell you that they start track prep on Monday or Tuesday for Friday or Saturday programs in order to have good racing conditions, and as a racer who has consistently put in 20-40 hours on weekly maintenance (over and above working a regular job) on his own race program I don't believe it's too much to expect from track owners or operators to do the same. As I stated, this isn't meant to be an attack on our tracks, just something to think about.”
You see, this is the type of feedback, especially coming from a driver who's raced 50 years, is about making RACING BETTER. It isn't about tearing down tracks or promoters.
Maybe there is a middle ground here whether constructive back-and-forth between tracks and promoters on Facebook could bear positive results.