Solid crowds are the norm...
Solid crowds are the norm at Colorado's I-25 Speedway. Photo by Mike Lippencott
But White says it's not just one thing that contributes to their success, it's a complete plan and a process. "There's a right way, a wrong way, and a common sense way. We try to do the common sense way."
One example is in the area of rule changes. At I-25 you won't find mid-year rule changes. White insists on giving his competitors at least a full year to conform to a rule change. In addition to that White says the best thing he has done since taking over the track is to join the ASA sanction, which gives his competitors excellent insurance coverage and gives him a valuable resource to tap into motorsports marketing.
The well-known North Carolina bullring sits in the middle of NASCAR country and as such it's a safe bet that the competitors at the track have a whole host of engineering technology at their fingertips, perhaps more so than at other tracks around the country. Like many short tracks Hickory runs a variety of different divisions some of which include crate motors. But unlike many crate motor divisions around the country, Hickory takes a different tactic.
"About four or five years ago, we did away completely with seals on all three crate motors that we run," says Paul Deyo, Technical Director/Chief Steward at Hickory. Deyo and his team even encourage competitors to remove the seals before coming to the track. Inspectors are going to remove them anyway and it's a lot easier to do it in the shop than at the track at midnight.
Trucks racing at Hickory Motor...
Trucks racing at Hickory Motor Speedway, a track taking an innovative approach to crates. Photo by Jeff Huneycutt
Hickory runs the crate in three divisions-the 602 in Street Stock (which is a new addition for '08), the 603 in Limited Late Model and Trucks and the 604 in Late Model Stock. Deyo says that they tech the motors exactly the same way they tech "built" motors. The rule book says the crate motor must be completely stock so they routinely check things such as combustion chamber size, intake/exhaust ports and runners, valve spring ratings and more. The team at Hickory has even made several tools and jigs to make these checks easier. Deyo bases the specs on a combination of the GM Circle Track Crate Engine Technical Manual and from their own inspections of known stock or legal motors.
"I am not nave enough to think that some things are not being snuck by us, but we do know where the horsepower is made and we concentrate on those areas."
Pulling the seals on the crate motor is an idea that has been written about in the pages of CIRCLE TRACK more than once. But it goes far deeper than just catching potential cheaters, the team at Hickory is ensuring a fair race. There isn't a racer on the planet who doesn't love a fair race and having fair races translates into healthier car counts which in turn translates into more fans in the stands.
At the end of the day, that is truly what it is all about, more fans in the stands. "Short-track racing is alive and well," says Randy Myers, the outspoken (we like that) owner of Friendship Motor Speedway, head of the ASA-Southern Modified Race Tour and longtime modified racer. Myers makes the comment with a caveat, something needs to be done to let people know that indeed short-track racing is not only alive and kicking, but a viable option for great family entertainment on a Saturday night.
The tracks mentioned in this article are just a few examples of successful approaches. In the coming months we will be scouring the nation to find more tracks that are taking the right approach and proving that short-track racing is alive and well. Stay tuned and maybe your local track will wind up right here.