Racing Likes, Dislikes and Hopes...
I had some work commitments on Saturday so I was unable to get to Viking or Jamestown Speedways (110-mile drive one-way from my house a little tougher when that happens). So, I had some things on my mind about racing and I put them in a blog to vent a little.
This, is purely 100 percent my opinion as a dirt-racing fan who has been to 50 different tracks. Some of it will rile some people up, some is just off-the-wall observations...and this is not directed at any one track.
Some things I like at the track:
--Multi groove race tracks. I love it when there are 2-3 lines for drivers to utilize and when they can run side by side for laps.
--Hard racing. I don't mind some sparks flying from time to time when drivers are fighting for the lead. There is a difference between hard racing and dirty racing. Dirty racing is when equipment gets destroyed. I've seen it before fortunately now it is a rarity.
--Meet the Drivers nights. Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo does one class per night, brings them in front of the stands, and lets drivers hand out pictures or sign autographs. What a great way to engage fans, particularly kids, with drivers. Most tracks do this but I really like the way RRVS does it.
--Affordable concession prices -- and good food. If tracks do this part right they can increase revenue. That means having affordable food that is good -- and fresh. I realize a major challenge is finding concession workers for a lot of tracks...but I do know that if the food is overpriced and lousy I will eat after the races.
--Delaware restarts. They have their downsides in that they seem to breed more cautions but also have changed the complexity of a feature race with late restarts.
--More and More female drivers. The number of female drivers seems to be growing and it is great for racing.
Some things I really don't like at the track:
--Starting late. If it says your show starts at 7 p.m, the anthem should be wrapping up and first heat in staging. A 7 p.m. start time doesn't mean starting at 7:15 or 7:20. A comparison: It bugs me like having to sit through 15 minutes of previews at the movies. Time wasted.
--Announcers who don't say the names and hometowns of the drivers prior to heat races. I understand feature time there is a time crunch, so name and number is fine; but in the heat, especially when there are 2-3 pace laps, you can find the time to say names, numbers and hometowns. I-94 and Viking announcer Ron Krog is a master at this and one of the best in the business.
--The chips that IMCA Modifieds run on their engines. If you stand or sit in turn three at you can here them often hitting their rpm chips -- almost sounds like they are missing or something. It's not a huge thing and I understand why that is in place in the rules (helps reduce wear and tear on engines) but I like hearing those engines rev. The chips almost sound like blubbering some times.
--Intermissions that are too long. Why do some tracks feel the need to have 30-40 minute intermissions? Should be 20 min tops -- enough to give the officials (flagman, announcer, scorers, etc.) a break but to let the track work get done. Should never be 45 minutes, and I am convinced this lack of urgency has driven some fans away.
--City curfews -- at least the ones that exist thst are foolish and overly restrictive. Not much more needs to be said.
Things I wonder about...
--Why do many tracks (not all) do their trophy presentation for feature winners BEFORE the car weighs in at the scale? I realize it is a time issue, but isn't it uncomfortable to go and ask a driver for the trophy after he/she is DQed at the scale?
--What is the purpose of the blue and yellow flag. Is it to move out of the way for the leaders? Is it to hold your line? What if it is a one-groove track? Seems to mean different things at different tracks.
--Will we ever see this IMCA/Wissota Mod divide subside? I live in Fargo but when I go to I-94 it feels like I walk into a different racing world. I know as a fan I'd like to see IMCA guys be able to run Wissota tracks locally and vice versa.
Hopes for the future...
--That tracks and sanctioning bodies never forget about the "budget" racers. They are essential to the survival of weekly racing. Budget racers are in many cases are the ones who are a blown motor or damaging crash away from being off the track for an extended period of time. Rules need to be in place to keep racing affordable while still allowing those drivers a chance to compete.
--That we will see the late model class become more affordable and that the limited late models provide a good feeder class.
--That we would attract more fans to the races this summer who may not otherwise be "race fans."
--That tracks never ever forget to keep the "stock" in stock car racing and have a fendered class or two. Street Stocks, hobby stocks, stock cars or whatever.
--That we would see the return of some good rivalries that stir some emotions in the crowds. In my trips to Madison and Viking in the 1980s and 1990s these put people in the seats. We seem to lack them in today's racing and I think they are needed. Again, not wrecking equipment, but stirring up some emotion in the crowd would be cool again.