Is There a Welcoming Atmosphere at Your Racetrack?
Do you feel welcome when you patronize a racetrack weekly? Do you look forward to being at the track every week?
I think those are fair questions to ask as drivers, pit crews and fans who pay pit/grandstand fees every week.
Maybe it’s all of the rainouts or my kidney stone that has me a little cranky, but I feel like ranting a little about this subject.
This is what inspires this: This was a review written a few weeks back on Facebook about a RaceChaser-area track (I copied this since it is public on Facebook but won’t mention the name of the track, you can look that up). Now you take most of them with a grain of salt, but in this case I think it matters: it was written by Red1 racing team of Dan Wheeler and his wife, Teresa Duda. This is a couple that travels all over the Midwest and races at 30-plus racetracks IN A YEAR and has done so for years. And if you read their FB posts and talked to them (I visited with Dan last year at I-94), they are generally positive about racing.
They just have fun traveling all over the place and racing, so when they do offer suggestions like the ones below, I hope the track(s) listen:
“1. don’t tell any person “ you won’t make it to tech” when asking where the tech area is located
2. when the pit gates are scheduled to open, be open don’t make cars sit & wait for almost an hour when we have work to be done.
3. whomever is the official leading the pit meeting, not very impressed with someone from the crowd telling you how things are going to run. Appeared to be just another racer but if that is normal, maybe he should have been running the our meeting.
4. did not feel any positive vibes for making it to your track, did not feel welcome or appreciated to attend a race here.
Hopefully a few suggestions might make a difference. Thanks for your time.”
Now keep in mind this is one review, but since this couple races at a DOZENS, this review should carry more weight and realize that it was meant as constructive criticism in order to better things? The underlined part of the review caught my attention.
I’ve mentioned that Norman County Raceway in Ada has a reputation for being very welcoming, and in talking to promoters Jake and Sharnel Bitker, that is a goal of the track. A lot of the same people come to Ada every week to watch or race and a big reason is the atmosphere of the track.
I can’t say the same for all of the tracks around here although most are pretty good as far as the environment goes. A few have work to do, and if you are a driver or fan, you know who they are. Some frankly take their fans for granted (high ticket and concession prices, overly long shows). Some don’t even update their websites or social media to let people know what is going on (hint: Facebook is free and easy to update). Plus, as a blogger, MOST area tracks seem to appreciate the articles and stories I do involving their tracks; a few don't give a crap either way or are even resistant when I ask for pit access. Sometimes I offer criticism or opinions but I believe I am fair. Keep in mind I don't make money off of this blog and travel on my own dime.
There are some out of the area tracks who ‘get it.” Deer Creek Speedway south of Rochester is wonderful at this. People are friendly from the time you buy your ticket to concessions to the time you leave; in fact, one of the track owners (I believe it’s Randy Queensland) stands at the grandstand entry gate and thanks people for coming every week.
When you pay to watch or go into the pits, you should feel welcome. Customer service 101.
Some questions to ponder if you are promoting a track or simply working at one:
1. Are you welcoming at the grandstand and pit gates every week?
2. Do you respect all of the drivers who enter to race weekly? Even the ones who don’t always do well or win?
3. Are you too interested in your bottom line to treat people right?
Just something to think about at a time when tracks need to keep fans and drivers…