Racetrack Promotion
One of the things we observed was the management of each track and how well the owners and/or promoters organized the events. What were the fans' and race teams' satisfaction levels and did the venue appear to be successful? Because we were traveling in the Southeast on the first leg of our tour, we were able to hit several "first race of the season" events.

We were amazed at the large crowd that came out for the first race at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia. The stands were almost filled. We asked the owners, who happened to be sisters, what they did to attract such a large group and they couldn't come up with anything special they had done.

We did observe that the announcer was a local DJ who did a magnificent job of promotion and kept the crowd entertained throughout the event. He announced our attendance more than 25 times-excessive or not, it was appreciated. Later on, we thought that maybe during the DJ's regular radio show, because he was being paid for the racetrack event as a side job, he promoted the races for free on the air and that may have contributed to the high attendance.

We saw where some tracks were kept nicely with the landscaping, track facilities, and overall look and feel, and some where, frankly, run down. You each know who you are, no need to name names here.

One very important factor was the attention to the younger fans and their entertainment. Lanier was our first out-of-state stop and the race coincided with Easter. This track did as good a job as we've seen with entertaining the kids. It had a special "school" bus that drove the kids around the track and all over the outside of the track.

It was equipped with flashing emergency lights and a siren and ahhooga horn. The kids had a blast. And it was a way to keep them occupied while the track workers hid Easter eggs near the grandstands in preparation for a huge Easter egg hunt later on that evening.

There was also a small Quarter Midget track located on the property at Lanier and that same Saturday the younger racers were having their own races. When a track takes care of the kids, the parents want to come back often. Where else can you go and be entertained and have the kids ask to go back?

This scenario reminds me of the post WWII era when drive-in movies were popular. Mom and Dad could go take in a movie and the kids had playgrounds to go to and be entertained. It worked for all and those tracks that care about the entire family are definitely more successful from our observations.

Large Events
Our overall goal for the Tour was to visit the average racetracks across the region, but we also attended a few larger shows such as the World 100 at Eldora Speedway, the Topless 100 at Batesville Speedway, the USAR Pro Cup event at Hickory Motor Speedway, the USAC Sprint Cars at Salem Speedway, and the U.S. National Dirt Track Championships at The Dirt Track at Texas Motor Speedway.

The best-run show by far was the Eldora event, but then this race has been around for some 40 years now. You'd think they would get it right, right? And they did. The whole track is being modernized and made more fan friendly than ever with the help of the new owners, Tony Stewart and company.

We were provided with a prime location for our motorhome and the crowd was fantastic and controlled. Speaking of controlled, almost every major event we attended had law enforcement present to provide security if needed and 95 percent of the smaller weekly events had the same.

One large event, and we spoke of this in our monthly review this past year, didn't and there was trouble. We want to stress that at any public event with a large attendance, there needs to be security that has law enforcement capability.

Bowman Gray was a weekly event that was in itself a large event due to the huge number of attendees. It had a sufficient number of law enforcement personnel on hand and everything went smooth as glass. The promoter at Bowman Gray did an excellent job of keeping the events on schedule throughout the night and that allowed the crowd to get home at a decent hour. That is important to parents who need to get the kids to bed at a decent hour.