Every major sport has a grassroots program that has allowed many to participate with a few select individuals reaching the pinnacle of success. These sports have very delineated pathways to the professional levels. Many kids have played little league baseball, Pop Warner football, volleyball, soccer, and basketball. Many continue to play these sports in middle school and high school. Naturally, as you reach the collegiate level, the numbers participating drops significantly and only a few are selected to participate in the professional leagues. However, as these kids participate in the various sports programs during their teen years, they, their team and their sport are promoted through the school paper, local newspaper, radio broadcast and, depending upon the size of the community, local television. Once they reach the college level, the promotion of the sports program and the individual members of the team grows even further. In many situations the coverage becomes regional and national.
The Grassroots Racing Show and Night at the Races turn local racers like this Deer Creek S
Those involved in auto racing have a much more difficult task. There is no set promotional structure and even some major national touring series struggle for media coverage in the face of the juggernaut that is NASCAR. At the local level teams are comprised of family and maybe a few friends. While people helping those teams know the type of money and commitment it takes to field a car at the local track, most of them toil away and race in obscurity. While many in the community can tell you the score of the high school football or basketball game last night they have no idea who won at the racetrack. In some areas, local residents are surprised to learn there even is a racetrack in their town.
In a four state region in the Midwest, the "Grassroots Racing Show" strives to fill that void. As Doug Thompson puts it, the show is owned by the Good Lord and Doug and Connie Thompson. His brainchild, inspired by a deep faith, the Grassroots Racing Show is a weekly motorsports program that concentrates its programming for the local grassroots racing fan and promotes the local racer and racetrack.
The show airs weekly on the Eagle Cable Communications System across Kansas and is filmed at the Kansas Auto Racing Museum in Chapman, Kansas. It's also broadcast on TVOK Network from Enid, Oklahoma, and is available online at www.grassrootsracing.org where fans can view both current and previous episodes.
In 2012, the show featured a 90 minute format divided into two programs that are essentially blended together. The first 30 minutes of the program concentrates on racing updates, human interest stories and technical information. The first segment also sets the stage for the second and remaining 60 minutes of the program which is the "Grassroots Racing Show—Night at the Track." To create this segment, the show's film crew has filmed the entire racing program at one of the local tracks in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or Oklahoma. Thereafter, the footage is edited into a 60-minute program for distribution as part of the Grassroots Racing Show.
The Thompson brothers film the show in the laid back down home atmosphere of the Kansas Au
The show features co-host brothers Doug and Roger Thompson, both experienced racers. Doug raced Late Models on dirt, before migrating to asphalt and climbing into cars in both the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series and the Craftsman Truck Series. Roger raced Sprint Cars in the NCRA Series and Late Models. Each has won hundreds of feature events and track championships. They also own Whiskey Lake Raceway, a 3/8-mile track located between Manhattan and Junction City, Kansas, at Ft. Riley.
Circle Track first met Doug Thompson during last year's AMSOIL Great American Circle Track Tour. That's when Bob Bolles took a side trip to the Kansas Racing Museum where he met Thompson who among his many accomplishments is also credited with developing the Mini Stock class which over the years has evolved into one of the most common Saturday night divisions in oval track racing today.
Racing divisions aside, Thompson is passionate about the television show, "I like the 'Grassroots Racing Show' and 'Night at the Track.' Both shows highlight the local racers in a four-state area. We have excellent at track film crews who provide professional interviews and racing footage." Thompson said. "If I was sitting at home flipping channels and came across the 'Grassroots Racing Show' and 'Night at the Track' I would watch the program. The racing is excellent, film work is excellent and our at-track crew led by Mike Kraft does a broadcast quality job with the interviews."
The Thompson brothers show’s focus is 100 percent local racer.
Through the innovative use of in-car cameras the Grassroots crew brings Saturday night racing into living rooms throughout Kansas and beyond. "There is nothing boring about the racing. It is not follow the leader lap after lap and pass somebody in the pits. This is honest to goodness fender rubbing, bumper tapping, slide job, slingshot grassroots racing at its best."
Co-host Roger Thomspon stated, "I wish a show like this would have been available when I first started racing. It is fantastic exposure for the local racer. It gives the local racer a chance to showcase his/her racing to more than 730,000 households per week. What an excellent marketing tool for any local/regional race team."
The Grassroots Racing Show strives to bring the fender banging action into the room every
Dennis Weese of Eagle Cable Communications believes in what the Thompsons are trying to accomplish, "Roger and Doug are well known for their racing exploits. Doug and his wife own the Kansas Auto Racing Museum and he is an attorney and judge in our area. We thought the show would be a good fit to be the anchor program on our Eagle Cable System. It has exceeded our expectations and we are delighted with the quality of the program and the response from the viewing audience. We look forward to a long relationship with the GRS show."
The show production manager is Glenda Renz who is responsible for taking the racing action filmed by the crew and editing that footage into a 60 minute program which includes commercials.
The show is geared to bring the family friendly joy of short track racing to the forefront
"I wasn't a race fan when I started on the program but I am now," she says. "I am proud of the program. To me it is far more exciting than watching a NASCAR race on a Sunday afternoon. The GRS has Late Models, Sprint Cars, Midgets, World of Outlaws, MLRA, USMTS and a number of other series not normally viewed by the television audience. My boss tells me to show the best racing on the program. If it's the Late Model feature program, that's great, if it's the Street Stock or Hobby Stock feature that's the most exciting, then I highlight that race instead. Every local racer needs a chance to be on TV."
Renz added, "The Thompson brothers don't use a script. They know the racing game forwards and backwards and know just about everyone involved at any level in the sport. We do phone interviews with both the local racer or those involved at the higher end of the sport such as Bob Bolles of Circle Track or Dave Marcis, former NASCAR driver."
The Grassroots Racing website at www.grassrootsracing.org features commercials done on the show as well as bloopers and on-air blunders. Show owner Doug Thompson said, "There probably hasn't been two or three times in all of the shows that we have done a retake. I tell the crew, my co-host and those appearing on the show, "it is what it is, we are racers in front of the camera. We're not actors talking about racing. We are racers talking about our sport."
Thompson would love every track to see this kind of attendance and he says that promotion
For 2013 the show altered its format to a 60 minute program to accommodate a larger viewing audience. The first portion of the show will emmulate Sportscenter and concentrate on highlighting racing action from four or five tracks throughout a four state area. The rest of the program will continue to provide excellent racing footage from field reporter, Mike Kraft or David Chavarria with at-track interviews and in-car racing action.
In addition to the format change, the show will expand from its present television audience of 730,000 households to continue to broaden its base on the internet but also develop a radio program across the Eagle Communications, Inc. radio network.
Grassroots racing is the backbone of our sport. Without the support of the grassroots racers and fans there would be no major league racing. Manufacturers of racing products would not exist without the support of the thousands of grassroots racers purchasing racing products. Grassroots racers across the nation build the fan base audience for major league racing. Fans are interested in the sport by reason of its development at the local level.
The show will continue to concentrate on grassroots racing. Thompson is quick to point out that they are not interested in promoting the top levels of racing. Each of the major racing series has full access programming to promote their series. The grassroots racer has very little in the local or regional media. Many of the racers are very good but race in relative obscurity. In talking with him you can truly tell that he and his crew take their jobs very seriously and have a genuine passion for showcasing the grassroots racer. Perhaps their show could become a model for other areas of the country to promote the local racer.