Don's Soapbox—Promoters, Listen Up
I enjoyed your article, "Soapboxes," in the last Circle Track (Feb. '13). Your invitation to respond was for me like a big steak bone to a dog. When you commented about a lap counter, counting down instead of up, I said, "Finally someone gets it."

I have written several emails to Jason McCord, the competition manager at USAC, Sprint and Midget magazine and to promoters and track owners about having a lap counter, a score board, and a program that lists the car numbers and drivers names. I got very little response.

First I will rant about lap counters.

  1. Most tracks don't have one. Did you ever go to a basketball or football game that didn't have a time clock? No. Even a grade school has a time clock for basketball games. But here we have a professional sport, racing, and most tracks don't have a lap counter which is the same as a time clock.
  2. The tracks that do have a lap counter don't know how to use it. They count up. Stupid! When the lap counter counts down, you know how many laps the race will be, and when the race will be over. This is a no-brainer. However, they count up at Macon, on the portable counter that USAC brought in at Terre Haute and of all places that should know how to run races, Williams Grove.

Now I will rant about a score board. Every track should have a board that lists at least the first 5 cars. Every sport except racing has a score board. When cars start lapping other cars, it's very difficult to keep track of who is leading or in second, third, and so on. I try to keep track on a note pad, but many times I lose track as cars pass other cars and lapped cars are involved. When I lose track, the race is no fun. A score board is as important to racing as it is to basketball, football, and other sports.

Now about programs. Even at a high school basketball game, they have a program so you know the name and number of the players. Many times, they also have the players listed on the scoreboard. But no programs at local racetracks. What you have are cars with numbers being driven round and round by no-name drivers. Even when you learn who is typically driving No. 11, many times they are driving another car that night. This happens frequently with Sprint Cars and Midgets that race at various tracks like USAC.

With computers and one or more high speed printers, which cost less than $200 each, several thousand programs can be printed after the drivers have registered and are making hot laps. There can be preprinted advertising on the programs and along with the income from program sales, track owners will make money.

Using advanced technology:

  • After the cars are registered, the track would upload the car numbers with the driver's name to their internet site. People with cell phones and internet access, could access the track's website and have an instant program. Some tracks would have to install Wi-Fi.
  • After each race, the track would upload the race results to its internet site. People with cell phones and internet access, could access the site and have instant race results.
  • Systems are available that will send the data from the car transponders to:
    1. A scoreboard.
    2. Race results to the internet. People could get the results on their cell phones.
    3. Streaming data in real time on the internet showing each car's position as the race is being run. People could then see this on their cell phones.

As a business owner for more than 35 years, I have learned that the more value you provide your customers the more customers you have and keep. The more value customers receive, the more willing they are to pay a higher price. This axiom applies to any business, including racing. I believe that if tracks will have a lap counter, a board that shows at least the first five places, and a program, their fan counts and income will increase.

Assume you are at your first race. Would you come back if you didn't know the names of the drivers; how many laps for each race, or when the race would be over; or which car is leading, or in second, third, and so on?

Yours for better racing,
—Don Searles

Well Don,
You know that all makes just too much sense. Today's race promoters aren't smart enough to figure all of that out, or are they? Some already do and some will read this and realize how much value is in what you say. Thanks.