Keeping the Show Moving!
If I hear one common complaint from fans of dirt-track racing, it is this: the racing shows take too long. Fans don’t want to sit there for 4 hours or more anymore unless it is a special event, like the Wissota 100 or a big invitational like the John Seitz Memorial.
After talking to Viking Speedway president Rich Snyder the other night, it got me thinking as a long-time fan. A priority for Viking this year is to work to keep the show moving, especially with a 7 p.m. start and 10:45 p.m. city curfew. I am curious to see the response from the drivers and fans.
Look, there are enough things that can delay a race program without putzing around between/during races. A big pileup or serious crash that results in a red flag. Power outages like the one that happened in turns 1-2 at I-94 Speedway last year; damage to things like fences or guardrails. Or a brief rain shower that causes the track to be reworked.
I think most fans get that if something like that happens, there will be a delay and they won’t gripe about it. There also are the cases when a driver is doing double duty and has to get into his/her car right after the feature or heat which I get those things too.
That isn’t what I am talking about.
What I am talking about is a lack of urgency during a regularly, weekly race program. This isn’t singling out one track, either, but just experiences from attending several around the Midwest in the last few years. The lack of urgency is not just from track officials, either. Because in the end, it takes everyone involved to move a show along.
The long shows are driving away fans.
Some delays are drivers showing up late to staging or not getting lined up prior to a race. Those delays can certainly be avoided. Some are not getting lined up properly after a caution which makes for extra caution laps.
There are also other issues — too many pace laps before a feature race. Too many laps under caution in features (especially after a crash is already cleaned up). Too long making the trophy presentation after a race (seems to be a growing problem).. And, one that might ruffle some feathers — a solo spin-and-your in during the heat races. Deer Creek Speedway, for example, does this and it works well. Not sure it can work at every track but I like it when I see it.
And, my biggie — too long of an intermission. Even with track prep, intermission shouldn’t go 45 minutes.
I prefer 15-20 minute intermissions with the first feature all ready to go. It gives people time to hit the concessions and also gives track workers a break. But it also isn’t long. Stretching it out to 45 minutes loses fans, frankly. Too much down time.
I was at a track last year where the show lasted 5 1/2 hours. So many delays, cautions and an unnecessarily long intermission made for frankly a bad night. I left pissed off as a fan.
Truth is, if you have 100-110 cars, a regular show should last no longer than 3-3 1/2 hours (aside from the other issues mentioned earlier). Our attention spans are shorter than ever. Tracks could be surprised at the response they’d get by running a quicker program.
As a fan I’d love to see it.