Are There Too Many Classes and Tracks?
I talked to a racer recently, and he brought up something when it comes to weekly racing. He said there are too many tracks and too many classes for today's current racing economy/fan base to support.
So it begs the questions -- Do we have too many tracks? Do we have too many classes? How many is too many?
These are questions worth asking.
I will answer yes to both as a fan, but let me explain.
I personally think six classes is too many. Five to me as a fan is borderline. There are tracks that run more -- one track I saw down south runs nine classes. This is senseless to me.
The more classes you run, the more you dilute the car counts in each class. What is better -- four classes with 60 cars or nine classes with 62 cars? Having nine classes with 7 or 8 car features to me isn't entertaining.IF you have four 15-car features, that seems to be a better balance.
That being said, I understand the need to have at least one affordable, entry level class. Like the INEX Legends, or hornets, or a pure stock. IF you need to run two of those to attract younger and newer drivers, I am fine with that. Even though sometimes the sling shots run 5-6 cars or less, I understand the need to run the class.
Locally I took a look. These are regular, weekly classes at the eight tracks in the RaceChaser coverage area. River Cities in Grand Forks is the only track to run four weekly. Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon runs four regular classes but rotates the INEX Legends and IMCA Mods on most weeks.
Sheyenne Speedway - 4, plus extra class -- Legends and A Mods are generally rotated. NLSA Sprints and NLRA Late Models will also make an appearance.
Jamestown Speedway -- 6 (including sling shots)
Buffalo River Race Park - 7 (including sling shots)
I-94 Speedway - 6
Red River Valley Speedway - 5
Norman County Raceway - 6
River Cities Speedway - 4
Viking Speedway - 5
The driver I talked to about this said four classes is plenty and he isn't wrong. I am OK with five; six is pushing my limit. More than that, you probably will lose me as a fan. I think the desire to try and please every fan and driver led to the addition of classes, but it has gone out of control.
Sanctioning bodies certainly share in some of the blame, too. IMCA currently sanctions seven classes; Wissota eight. USRA, which Deer Creek and Mississippi Thunder run their A mods, has eight.
As far as too many tracks...this is tough. In my blog coverage area I have eight racetracks within 115 miles of Fargo-Moorhead. If you go to 150 miles, you add Bemidji, Devils Lake and Watertown.
That is a lot of tracks. Some say the fan counts and car counts are getting spread too thin because they simply have too many options. Less fans and families are going two or three nights a week, and less racers are running two or three nights a week. It gets spendy, plus we have other things -- in my case my wife and daughter -- that are higher priorities. We just don't have the fan base and car count to support so many tracks.
I am NOT saying tracks should close. I am saying the amount of tracks adds to the challenge of attracting fans and drivers consistently. Because they have more choices. Plus, the car counts locally, especially in the modifieds, have been split because of the IMCA/Wissota divide.
I don't see tracks cutting classes very often (Viking cut the Pure Stocks). And in this area, there aren't any tracks that have closed or sit idle.
So yes I think there are too many classes at most tracks, but I also allow leeway if those classes are entry level and attract young drivers. As far as tracks go -- maybe they can work together more on having point funds and series for local guys.
This will ruffle some feathers, but it's time to talk about these issues.
Saturday night notes
Viking Speedway in Alexandria was the only track in the region to get a partial show in on Saturday. Buffalo River Race Park and Jamestown Speedway both cancelled; to the north Devils Lake and Greenbush Race Park both were rained out, too.
I was surprised Viking Speedway didn't have better car counts, especially with Madison cancelling and it being Race of Champions night. Only 12 mods were on hand, and just nine super stocks. Other classes were solid.
Only the street stock feature was completed before the rains hit. Ryan Satter of Dent made it 2-for-2 on the weekend with the win over defending national champion Justin Vogel of Brooten. Jim "Nitro" Williams, the all-time street stock win leader at Viking, was third.
--I feel for BRRP promoter Kevin Nathe it has been a miserable start to the season. The track already took a bit of a gamble moving to Saturdays, but between the wet spring and rainouts, BRRP has one show in and four cancelled. Included in that was the loss of the popular NOSA Sprints.
--Jamestown has had a little better luck, but had to cancel on Saturday because of too much rain. That was particularly disappointing for Jamestown since the NOSA Sprints were scheduled to be in town. Jamestown is batting .500 on the season -- three shows in, three rainouts.
--Defending Wissota Late Model national champ Ricky Weiss of Manitoba finished seventh at the Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway on Saturday in Ohio. Brandon Sheppard won the $125,000 to win feature.