This installment marks the last entry into the monthly journal of the 2010 AMSOIL Great American Circle Track Tour. It has been one remarkable year for me personally and for our magazine. What we had hoped would be the result of our efforts has paid off multiple times.
When we first talked about doing this U.S. Tour, we hoped that we could, first of all, observe and report on the condition of stock car racing in this country. If we could do that successfully, then, maybe, we might have enough significant information to begin to draw conclusions such as where we've been, where we are now, and where we need to go to grow this sport.
Our first race besides Speedweeks...
Our first race besides Speedweeks at New Smyrna and Volusia Speedway Park was at the first ever show for the Florida All-Star Tour at Citrus County Speedway in Inverness, Florida. The organizers of this series proved that racers can control their racing by working with the racetracks for the common good. This effort sent a strong message.
Every good business person will tell you that you need to be ahead of the curve as to trends and the direction each type of business needs to steer toward. And let's face it, above all of the excitement and competition, racing is a serious business.
The tracks we race at are businesses, the parts we buy come from businesses, and indeed this very magazine is a business-and all of the parts and pieces of racing related to business must not only survive, but prosper. And to do that we need a plan. CT won't necessarily develop that plan, but we hope to provide enough information gained from this Tour for others to use to develop their own business plans.
The following are some interesting observations we made on the 2010 portion of a Tour that will eventually encompass the entire country.
One of the first things we came across was the combining of classes that were already similar in rules. When you have Late Model and Limited Late Model classes that are losing numbers, you can combine those classes, and then numbers will be equal or exceed previous sizes for either class.
Ty Dillon, brother of Austin...
Ty Dillon, brother of Austin Dillon, and son of Mike Dillon, who heads up Richard Childress Racing, participated in the race at Tri-County Speedway. We also got to see Austin drive his Dirt Late Model car to the pole at the World 100 at Eldora Speedway. Now that's some accomplishment for any "young" racer. Both brothers started racing-Austin at age 15 and Ty at age 14-in Bandoleros and Legends cars before moving up to the higher class stock cars.
It's fairly easy to do, just equalize the multiple classes with different engine combinations by using weight penalties for the cars with higher horsepower engines, or if you're a positive thinker, weight breaks for the less powered cars. This happened in the F.A.S.T. series here in Florida and it's a method used at numerous tracks we visited including Old Dominion Speedway on asphalt and Crossville Speedway on dirt.
We witnessed a Crate Late Model beat out two high-dollar Super Late Model cars at Crossville and a driver at Old Dominion who races with an open trailer and running what was previously a Limited Late Model win the track championship. This stuff works.
We saw more "compact" foreign-which really aren't foreign-made anymore, only foreign-owned companies-cars used for the stock divisions on both dirt and asphalt. Some teams switched from asphalt to dirt with the same cars.
IMCA-style Modified racing is still strong across the South with a race at The Dirt Track at Texas Motor Speedway attracting more than 200 Modifieds for a special show there held twice a year. And Bowman Gray Stadium hosted a Northeast-style Modified class that filled the stands with more than 17,000 screaming fans.
Lonesome Pine Raceway's first...
Lonesome Pine Raceway's first race of the year, our third "FROTY" of the Tour was partially sponsored by the local super market chain, Food City which brought out the super-sized shopping motorized kart. It was good for me to get back ato the hills of Virginia again having started my racing career just up the road at what's now called Motor Mile Speedway. Proper promotion is one of the indicators of a track's potential for success in the future.
Another trend that we saw more than once was the inclusion of scale-sized race car classes such as Legends cars, Bandoleros, Mini-Cup, and Allison Legacy cars racing on 3/8- to 1/2-mile tracks, dirt and asphalt. In past years, these classes were not considered feature worthy, but not anymore.
The tracks need more back gate and allowing the scale-sized cars to run does increase the back gate, but at the expense of a good show some wondered? Not at all. In fact, some of the best racing we've seen this year happened at Old Dominion in a Mini-Cup race where on the final lap the leader's engine stumbled, there was a mad dash for the lead among several cars and the previous leader ended up rolling down the front straight.
The driver emerged unhurt and smiling and waving to the crowd, which was giving him a standing ovation and cheering. It was the best race of the evening. So, who can argue when fans thoroughly enjoy the show? Not me.