Even when the end of the rainbow is near a pit area, it doesn't mean there's a pot of gold
Editor's Note: Ted Austad is the promoter of Oglethorpe Speedway Park near Savannah, Georgia.
Individuals may choose a variety of subjects in which to gain their bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degrees. One can choose to be an engineer, a practitioner, or a business major. University life can bring any student into the world of business with the knowledge and sometimes discipline it takes to be successful in the U.S. Education is the lifeblood of our nation. In order for our nation to excel, we need to focus on education and making our children better than ourselves.
We have read about the newly created curricula at various schools in the U.S. that cater to motorsports-everything you need to know about building, maintaining, and driving race cars.
We're missing only one thing. What about the speedway where we race these cars that we can now build faster, stronger, and safer? Who teaches promoters and track operators? There are plenty of people who tell them how to do their jobs, but how do these people really stack up when it comes to opening the gates and operating an event?
Filling the grandstands is just one of the tasks that a promoter faces on race day. The pr
It's tougher than one thinks. It's not very glamorous, either. It takes guts. It takes money. It takes a unique personality and character to operate a successful speedway. The keyword is successful. Two-time winner of Racing Promotion Monthly's Auto Racing Promoter of the Year, Hugh Deery, once said, "You are going to be a son of a bitch; you already are. There's two kinds-dumb ones and wealthy ones. Take your choice."
What can make the promoter's job most difficult is that there is not a textbook to tell you right from wrong. There is not a college course study that can give you the basics of operating a short track. Experience is the only education for the short-track promoter, winning by trial and error. Sometimes it seems like more error and lots of lost money. John McKarns of the former ARTGO Racing Series told me, "You can make a $500 mistake once. If you make it all season [22 weeks], that's $11,000. If you make it for ten years, that's $110,000. Learn from your mistakes."
Veteran experience is priceless in this business. Because of the efforts of Racing Promotion Monthly, racetrack promoters from around the world have gathered twice each year to exchange, discuss, teach, and learn new ideas to improve their businesses.
Today's promoter understands that a racetrack's product is entertainment. You can mix up t
I called upon my "professors" to assist with this article. One e-mail to a dozen colleagues resulted in over 40 responses. Many kept sharing as they thought more about the industry they love and desire to make better, and their ideas prompted the following list of qualities necessary to be a promoter.
1.Love The Sport And The Long Hours
Each "professor" responded with the need for long hours. Promoters do not work 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. Most are on call at all times. You are always promoting your speedway. No matter where you go, whom you see, or what you are doing, everyone is a potential spectator or participant at your speedway. You are constantly selling.
This also creates a need to love the sport of auto racing and especially short-track auto racing. In order to talk about it, sell it, and deliver the final product in an appealing manner to the fans and drivers, you have to love the sport. You have to be a fan and know what the fan wants to see. You have to sell the sport as much as your facility. I'm speaking of short-track racing-not the stuff you see on television every weekend.
Thunder Road (VT) Speedway promoter Tom Curley once said, "NASCAR Winston Cup can't survive without the little tracks around the country developing talent and fans. But the little tracks can survive without the Cup Series."
You have to be self-motivated and a self-starter. You have to be a planner. You have to think ahead-far ahead. You cannot come in early on race day and expect the masses to be knocking down the gate in a few hours just because you're open for business. You gotta love the weekly grind as much as the weekly show.