After having traveled around a full three quarters of this continental United States on the AMSOIL Great American Circle Track Tour, I've developed a list of things I like to see, and some I don't, at racetracks. I've wanted to do this piece for some time now, but waited until I had sufficient ammunition. I feel like, after doing the upper mid-west portion this past year, I have plenty to talk about. So let's get after it.
I Like To See—Scoreboards. Some tracks don't have them believe it or not. One really neat thing I saw that I think most tracks can do is have the lap counter on the scoreboard count down instead of up. Counting down let's everyone know how many laps are left till the checker flag. Counting up serves no purpose for those of us who forget, or never knew (the track speakers were drowned out by the engine noise) how many laps were supposed to be run in each race.
I like tire rules, especially when Kalamazoo had the Super Late Models running on 8-inch grooved tires. Hey, everyone had the same disadvantage. And several teams told me that the tires were faster the second night you ran them.
ILTS—No guardrails for most tracks. I know that is not possible for many tracks, but when possible, remove them. For paved tracks, put in lane dividers that follow the real racing line. I saw this done at Dells Raceway Park and Wayne Lensing got it right. He said to the drivers, "Pick a lane, stay in it, or go to the rear." It keeps the rookies in line, most of the time when having to race side-by-side.
And I like to see red flags instead of yellows where the cars stop on the track as soon as the flag comes out, right where they are, and stay there until the green flies again. I saw this at Riverside Speedway in New Hampshire and it worked great.
Kalamazoo Speedway had video cameras, eight of them, positioned so that every angle covering all of the turns could be monitored and checked to see how an incident came about. It settled a lot of arguments quickly.
ILTS—The paved pits at www.briggsauto.com Speedway in the Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas. That is a dirt track by the way and the teams loved having clean, dust-free pits.
I really liked the "No Cry Babies" sign at the pit credentials office at I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa. Wouldn't a night at the track be more enjoyable without those?
I like to see good payouts to the teams and Montana Raceway Park topped the list when they not only paid $8,000 to win ($1,000 for last place) for the G.E.T. Rich 212, they handed out a gold bar to the top three finishers. Talk about a podium.
ILTS—Legends and other small cars that go fast run on smaller, inner tracks to keep the speeds down. Those cars aren't really made to hit a concrete wall at more than 100 mph at half-mile tracks. And that is a segue into my liking to make head-and-neck restraints mandatory for all divisions. That day is coming soon, so save up your money racers.
And speaking of safety, I like to see security at the racetrack, in the pits as well as the grandstands. There was a serious lack of that at a track that should have known better when we visited a huge fall Modified race in 2011. Most tracks have local sheriffs or city police looking after things on race day.
IRLTS—I also really like to see race cars that look like current model cars like I have already seen at several racetracks. And underneath those stock-appearing bodies could be any chassis and motor combination. The cars that stood out to me were all Sportsman cars with stock frames.
And while we are at it, I like relaxed rules governing chassis setup. Hey, you asphalt tech officials and sanctions, take a look at where dirt racing is today. It is kicking your butts on car counts and fan interest. Want to know why? It is largely because the rules are open as to chassis design and setups. That way of running tech builds the back gate and keeps the front gate flowing too.
All in all, I like to see racetracks that are successful and where the racing is clean, competitive and the racers and fans go home happy and wanting to come back next week. The above list represents just a few of the reasons why I think some tracks accomplish that goal, and some might not.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.