First of all...
The DCRR Racing Media Books
Stories of my time in auto racing from the beginning to 2003
Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover
Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover
Don's California Racing Recollections: Best Of The Blog And Beyond
Racing History, Stories, Statistics And Pictures
Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback
Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback
If You Like Reading Our Articles
Support Us Via The Go Fund Me The Tip Jar HERE
DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting HERE
The DCRR Racing Radio Show
Playdays Signal Start Of 2018 season
At Antioch Speedway And Merced Speedway
If the weather holds, cars will take to the track at both Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway on Saturday afternoon. This will be the first of two opportunities for the drivers to get practice laps on their respective home tracks before the season starts at both places. Antioch Speedway had scheduled an additional playday for March 3rd, which unfortunately was claimed by rainy weather.
For Merced Speedway, there is an added incentive for the racers to make those practice laps. On March 24th, the track will be honoring the memory of past champion Bill Egleston, who lost his life in a crash at Perris Auto Speedway earlier this year. As of this moment, the IMCA Modified Main Event that night will pay $3,000 to the winner. IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks make up the four division program at the Merced Speedway season opener.
The 2018 schedule for Merced Speedway features all of the big events that you would expect. Promoter Ed Parker has booked the Ted Stofle Classic, the Timmy Post Memorial, Legends Night, the John Fore Jr. Memorial and the Matt And Glass Cancer Fundraiser, among other big events. In fact, each of the four main divisions will race slightly more than they did last season, and the Valley Sportsman and California Sharp Mini Late Models will also have championship seasons. In addition to the five cars from last season, the auhorized dealer, Michael Shearer, has three new cars ready to go in the Mini Late Model class.
Meanwhile, back in Antioch, promoter John M Soares is doubling down with more of the same in his 21st season has promoter. The track will continue to feature the Winged 360 Sprint Car class, but there's news there. John endeavored to book races on nights in which neighboring Petaluma Speedway did not have the class, leaving just two conflicts on the schedule for this division. The first one doesn't even happen until July. Wingless Spec Sprints return for their 20th season at Antioch, while the DIRTcar Late Models, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars are all on the schedule as well.
The Bay Are Hardtops return for four visits, including the Chet Thomson Memorial, but the revival of the Four Banger division has yet to materialize. Dave Mackey reports that his #1 Hardtop will be ready for the first Antioch race. Tommy Thomson returns this year in a completely redone green #39 car, thanks to long time crew chief Gary Faw and his son, and both Doug Braudrick and Ken Retzloff are among those anticipated for the first Anitoch Hardtop race.
Antioch will have its first big Dwarf Car event on April 7th when the Western States Dwarf Car Association holds a King Of California race. Also back on the schedule will be the Jerry Hetrick Memorial, the Larry Damitz Memorial, the John Soares Sr. Top Dog Race and the Fall Brawl, among other big events. The heaviest scheduled divisions continue to be the Hobby Stocks and B Modifieds, which both will compete at Antioch over 20 times again this season. The A Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Dwarf Cars have also seen a noticeable increase in the number of dates scheduled.
It's an exciting time to return to the race track. You still see the green grass growing in places after the rain during the offseason. The cars in many cases feature brand new bodies, just waiting for the first dent. It's a good bet that it won't take long either. After the two playday events, Antioch Speedway's season will open on March 24th with an event that will feature Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.
The beautiful thing about a playday is that drivers can test new set ups, make sure the parts are working right and in some cases even get their very first laps behind the wheel of their new cars before the season opener. The rumor mill has been slow to produce much news, but two interesting news items circulated in the last couple of weeks regarding A Modifieds for third generation racer Mark Garner and Miranda Chappa. Chappa got a car from Nick DeCarlo, though we haven't heard what her plans are for this season. She won last season's finale for Dwarf Cars and at last report still has a Wingless Spec Sprint.
Garner clarified that his plans are to try to win The Limited Late Model championship for his father, the late Jerry "The Maverick" Garner. Mark came very close last season before settling for third, while finishing second in B Modified points. The 17 race schedule for the Limited Late Models will offer plenty of opportunity to get some wins, and Garner knows that consistency will be the key. Mark further reports that son Billy Garner will have the Hobby Stock formerly owned by Jim Freethy, which has won multiple Main Events at Antioch Speedway in the past.
Garner's chief rival in Limited Late Models may be reigning champion Kimo Oreta, though Jim Freethy and Mike Gustafson will be others to keep an eye on. Late word is that Chris Long now has the John Keith Limited Late Model for this season, while Angela Brown and Long's daughter may be seeing driving duties in the #99 Hobby Stock. Brown, the daughter of long time racer Bob Brown, has raced a Hobby Stock in the past. Getting back to Oreta, there was footage not too long ago in Marysville of Kimo driving the #03 Late Model at that track's playday.
We haven't heard a lot regarding who is returning or joining the various divisions, but there are sure to be a few surprises at the playdays. In Antioch's Hobby Stock division, Chris Bennett has announced some new sponsors as he gets ready for his sophomore season. After sending his old car to the wreckers, 2010 champion Chris Sorensen has a new car being prepared. 2017 runner up Brent Curran is preparing for his move up to the B Modified division after winning top rookie honors in Hobby Stocks last season. Reigning champion Cameron Swank was seen at the New Year's race driving a Chevelle. And this is just a sample of the Hobby Stock news. It was the best supported division last season.
After making a late season appearance in his Winged 360 Sprint Car last season, the news wasn't so good for 2nd generation racer Dan Gonderman, who will be sidelined due to a work related injury. Daughter Abigail Gonderman drove to a Top 10 season and top rookie honors last season in the Wingless Spec Sprint division. We've gotten word that Robert Floyd and Adam Teves are ready to go, while Alan Miranda has begun working on his Spec Sprint. Things are also coming together for Rick Panfili as he rebuilds his car from last season's hard crash and has sponsoorship from Archie's BBQ, VFW and Twin Tigers Karate.
It was announced last season that Buddy Kniss will be joining his father Chester Kniss in the A Modified division this season at Antioch. 2016 B Modified champion Trevor Clymens and reigning champion K.C. Keller are ready to go, and we've also seen progress on both the Tim Hammett and Robby Senn cars. Senn is up from Hobby Stocks and is a rookie in B Modifieds.
News has been slow to circulate out of Merced, but we know there are several cars being prepared for the Mini Stock division. This should include a new truck owned by past little truck champion Kevin Lockerby. Resident Mini Stock boosters Chris Corder and sister Jennifer Corder are anticipated along with Destiny Carter and Lucy Falkenberg. Joe Terry will be living his dream as he makes his division debut, and announcer Dale Falkenberg continues to do things to help build this class. Chris Corder surprised some people when he bought a Sportsman last year. If he really gets the itch to get behind this division, it would be just the shot in the arm the Sportsman division really needs. There has also been a sighting of both the Sportsman and Sport Modified of Tim Prothro.
Antioch area racer Ricky Brophy has been working social media to gauge interest in a Wingless 360 Sprint Car race on April 21st at Merced. Promoter Ed Parker is trying many things to give the fans a variety of entertaining open wheel shows, including RaceSaver 305 Sprints, BCRA Midgets, BCRA Midge Lites and WSDCA Dwarf Cars, and he's interested in giving this exciting style of open wheel racing a try if he can get some support. Brophy, Shawn Arriaga, Jeremy Ellertson, James Smith and Adam Teves are among those who have expressed interest. NWWT President and reigning champion Rob Lindsey commented that he would have been interested in supporting the show had his group not had a race booked at Cottage Grove, Oregon Speedway that night.
Drivers are itching to get their race cars on to the track, and playday this Saturday at Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway is just the opportunity to do so. We'll be keeping an eye on both tracks. For further information, you can go to the official Merced site at www.racemerced.com or the official Antioch site at www.antiochspeedway.com.
In Memory Of Butch Althar
I just read that Butch Althar died. I'm sorry to hear the news. I've heard a few good announcers in my time in the sport. There are a few people who have announced who are very important to me and influenced me. One of them is Butch. He may be the best announcer I ever heard at Antioch Speedway.
I shamelessly borrow the line that he used to use at the end of his shows. "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live." I do that in part as a tribute to him. One of the biggest regrets I have in my time as an announcer at Antioch Speedway was the night I didn't invite Butch up to the booth. He was interested in announcing with me. It really didn't stick with me that night the way it does now. He wanted to know if he could do it again, if he had that ability. I know he did. That's the thing.
I knew that he had been through some health issues, but that wasn't the reason. It wasn't even about having to share the microphone with somebody. I would have LOVED to work with him. Me being so anal about having everything set up perfect, I didn't have all of my sponsor sheets laid out. My writing kind of sucks. I wanted to set everything up on cards neatly printed. So I said, "Let me get everything set up and we'll do this." I should have said, "Come right up and announce with me." We don't get do-overs in life. I know that all too well, and this was a moment I'd like to have back.
Butch raced and announced at Vallejo Speedway and earned the love of respect of the racers there. He announced at other places as well before coming to Antioch. I remember him being a breath of fresh air. An announcer who actually shows up before the races to get information and talk to the drivers. A novel concept. I know that announcers in that era sometimes just read from the rosters, which meant they were messing up names all night. We had a few of those at Antioch.
It's one of the things I learned from Butch. Take the time to talk to the racers and know what you're talking about. Sponsorship is very important, so make sure you have everything up to date. And don't just write those sponsors down on a list, actually announce them. I've seen drivers lose sponsors because the announcer didn't do his job properly. Not Butch. He knew what the hell he was doing.
I also remember when he lost the gig in Antioch. This never should have happened. I know that he was one of the best in the game and probably came at a higher salary than the guys who read names from sheets and told a few jokes on race night. People loved what he did, and it was just another stupid management decision, in my opinion, to not hire him. When I look back and think I was a little bit rough on management back in those days, these are the things that remind me that, no, maybe I wasn't.
What was interesting is during that time when he was negotiating, Butch happened to be in the area. He drove his big RV into our little mobile home park to come talk to me about what was going on. I was not pleased that he wouldn't be announcing at Antioch, but it made me smile to know that he had some really good offers waiting for him. Of course, we ended up with an announcer who is admittedly very well known in the Antioch racing community and had catch phrases he loved to say, but I still remember who the best announcer was there. We didn't have him nearly as long as we should have.
I know Butch was called upon to do various awards banquets through the years. He had charm, wit and a great sense of humor. An award's banquet MC'ed by him was an enjoyable event. Back at the end of 1988, Mike Johnson wanted to present the NCMA in the best light possible for their awards banquet. So, he paid Ron Albright to cover it an Butch to MC it. Butch was his usual entertaining self and did an awesome job.
Butch was very professional about everything and didn't really make a big deal out of not being invited back to Antioch. He knew that was the nature of the business. I loved his sense of humor. I recall one night when Corky Patrick had painted his Street Stock pink and had the fire suit to match. Butch decided he would call him Pinky Patrick that night on the PA. Corky wasn't amused. He told me so, and I went to tell Butch. He already had a hunch before I said anything. Butch had the biggest smile on his face when he said, "He didn't like it, did he?"
I know Butch was honored with awards at Vallejo Speedway. It always brings a smile to my face to know that people like him are shown appreciation like that. I have been thinking about him. I always go back to the time when I could have had him up there announcing with me and blew it. As I announced again, this time at Merced and Chowchilla, I kept thinking that I would pull him up to the booth with me if I saw him.
The DCRR Magazine was just getting started when Butch was announcing at Antioch. I would take the time to write down sponsors for him and help where I could. We get a chance to touch people's lives when we are involved in this wonderful sport, and Butch touched a lot of people's lives. I'm better for having known him.
I'm working at track now that had a beloved figure, R Charles Snyder, announcing for many years. I'm proud to have had a hand in helping put together the race that honors the man now. I don't know if Butch will ever get such an honor, but as long as I'm still here, I will honor him by doing the best that I can. I learned from one of the best.
The Editor's Viewpoint
I saw an interesting topic come up on Facebook regarding letters after the car numbers. The person was wondering why the Watsonville cars had the circles around the numbers and what happened to all of that. Of course, this happened back in the days when you had Bob Barkhimer promoting all of these tracks. This continued for a while after he sold to Ken Clapp.
It could get a bit confusing when we had special nights and there were 40 or 50 cars in the pits in one division. This happened more often back in those days. We also used to only need two divisions back then. So depending on where you were from, you ran the circle or the letter after your number.
You knew you were in for some tough competition in the 1980s when the circle cars came to town. Those were the Watsonville guys, and they were fast. Those were the guys that usually competed for the NASCAR Regional Championship. I don't know why they didn't have a w after their numbers. So, if you weren't really paying attention or the car was lettered a certain way, you didn't really even notice the circle sometimes. The San Jose drivers didn't have to run a letter after their numbers. Why no s there? Interestingly enough, for several years the Late Models didn't even get Regional points. The Super Modifieds, who weren't really even running for the NASCAR Regional Championship, would get those points.
This makes for an interesting discussion at Merced. After San Jose moved on from Super Modifieds to Sprint Cars, Merced Speedway added the California Modified class. This was the old style, reminiscent of Super Modifieds, but a little bit more affordable. For two years, Merced gave that class Regional points and nearly brought the championship home both times. The driver, Gordon Rogers, who never finished lower than third and only did that on one night a week of racing. That put him at a disadvantage to all of the big players who had two nights of racing and therefore more bad nights they could throw away.
Merced Speedway had the m after their car numbers. I used to look forward to seeing those drivers come to Antioch, because this didn't happen all the time. Merced and Antioch both ran on Saturday nights. Merced Speedway was the home track of Doug Williams. Doug was the only Merced local to win a NASCAR Regional Championship, which was considered an upset back in those days. Some people might underestimate those racers in Merced, but they could be very tough to beat.
I speak of the 1980s with the lettering, but it goes back before that too. In the 1960s and 70s, Petaluma Speedway was part of the NASCAR family. What's interesting is you had John Soares Sr. promoting Petaluma and Antioch for Barkhimer, and you had Bert Moreland promoting Watsonville and Merced. Barky could be found in San Jose with the very competitive Super Modified program he had cultivated at the Old Tully Road pavement track.
You had two different circuits going on that were part of the NASCAR State championship. You had Antioch and Petaluma working together and Merced and Watsonville working together. There were opportunities for the drivers to go from one circuit to the other, and when you had that happen, you had bigger races than you were already getting. And these were big racing programs to begin with. Petaluma competitors ran an n after their numbers. Not sure where the n came from. Why not a p? Stockton, which wasn't part of either circuit, ran the j after their numbers.
Some might say the end of the Barkhimer Legacy tracks came in the mid 1970s. This is when he sold his interest to Ken Clapp. Clapp ran that all the way to the bitter end as the tracks slipped one by one from his grasp. I know he's seen as sort of the "elder statesman" on the west coast. When NASCAR wants an opinion on the west coast, you'll sometimes hear a sound bite from him on a TV broadcast. However, he was no Bob Barkhimer. To me, it's a shame that people don't remember Bob. He's really the guy who built up so much of the racing that we still enjoy in California at some places.
Racing promoting is something that sometimes feels like a lost art. I've had this discussion with Mike McCann sometimes. Mike, I know, is an admirer of the work that Bob Barkhimer did as a promoter. And Bob had his detractors. They declared WAR on him by forming the WAR Association at a few tracks that Barkhimer didn't control. It always comes down to people thinking that they can do it better than you, even when it comes to a guy of Barkhimer's stature.
But when you look at it, promoters back in those days had a certain flair to what they were doing. It used to be a big deal in the 1960s and early into the next decade when you had a Powder Puff Race, for instance. It's kind of condescending to women now, but it was a big deal then. We're going to let our wives and girlfriends drive our cars. Uh oh! But, those events were actually very entertaining, and I discovered through my research at Antioch Speedway just how much the newspapers hyped those events up. They were a selling point. What was going to happen to the cars, and which woman was going to win?
This was pretty much something that happened at many of the tracks for years, but gradually women broke through the gender barrier. Some tracks were a little bit slower to progress than others. At Antioch, we saw our first lady drivers in the mid 1970s, Lesley Green and Gloria Johnson. Newspaper articles chronicled John's misgivings about the whole idea, but he knew this was something that had to happen. There was a time when women weren't even allowed in the pits. Yeah, that's the era Jonn came from. But men like him and Bert Moreland were the ones who opened the gates and allowed women not just to be in the pits, but to compete as well.
Moreland went even further. He introduced Figure 8 racing to Watsonville. To the untrained eye, it could be a chaotic race that had crashing in the X. To a fan and enthusiast of that style of racing, it's so much more. The skilled racers could have the fans on their feet waiting for that moment in the X that never happened. They knew how to time it, and they were racing hard for a win at the same time. Figure 8 racing was legendary at Watsonville, and Moreland was the guy who made it happen.
I've grown to realize that these man had different circumstances to work with back in those days. You didn't have so many things competing for a fan's dollars, so when you had a grandstand seating capacity of 3000 people, most of these racing venues throughout the state packed the grandstands. Also, they did it with two, sometimes one division. Where we might see 60 cars showing up for a six division show in 2018, we would see 60 cars show up for one division in those early days. What time period would you rather spectate? As a racer, what sounds more appealing to you?
You had thrill shows and other sorts of things going on. You might even see Evel Knievel put on a show jumping buses in the infield. Orval The Daredevil Clown, Kansas Ed Beckley, Destruction Derbies. A promoter would throw in all sorts of fun stuff to get fans to come check out those races, and he didn't always jack up the ticket price when he did that. It was the land of milk and honey in racing. That's what the days of the circle, a and m numbers mean to me.
But, can you imagine social media and our way of thinking being the norm back in those days? They'd crucify those guys. Who the hell does Barkhimer think he is? Does he think he's God? Well, the racers have shown him. This means WAR!
I hold these promoters in high regards because they made it happen. They built the circuit that we enjoy today. Mike has shown me so many places back east that have closed down. I'm talking state of the art facilities in some cases. Brand new stuff, but they couldn't draw a fly. Now, these places just sit, perhaps never to hear the roar of the engines again. I know for me personally, the desire to relocate is mainly to go back to the Bay Area again, which I will do eventually. However, there have been a few race tracks that he's shown me that would be tempting to relocate to if somebody were making a go of it again.
Indiana, for instance, is seen as some sort of racing "Promise Land." And, it is impressive. They have some of the best open wheel racing you'll find anywhere in the country. I'm amazed at how many racing venues sit dormant there. We hear how low on the totem pole California is in racing. And believe me, California has its issues. Despite that, there are an awful lot of race tracks still going in California.
When I think of these great promoters, I know they have been there and done that. In many cases, they've been honored by being inducted into multiple Hall Of Fames for their accomplishments. They've proven their point. They paved the way, and others have followed them. I often wonder though, how would those great promoters do if they were running a race track now? There's only a few of them left who competed back in those days. I work with Mike up here, and John Soares Jr. in Antioch is about the only other one I can think of.
I can just see social media driving these people up the walls. They dealt with the newspapers pretty heavily back then. Billboard signs in town, posters in the windows of local stores and sometimes the television and radio. You might even see races broadcast sometimes. I know Indoor Midget Racing used to be on TV. The lack of a social media shielded them from the bombardment of negativity the modern day promoter deals with now.
Facebook back in those days was pretty simple. You had a bad night and you sat in the pits with other racers or your crew and family and complained about what happened that night. A few beers later, you might even say you were done with the place. But when you left, it would be, "See you next week." And if it really got heated, you didn't hit any dislike button or respond to that person's comment with a negative comment. Oh no. It might end in a fight in the pits or at the pizza parlor afterwards.
I wouldn't say that Bert, Bob, John or any of the great promoters couldn't do it. These men knew how to think outside the box. These man could throw a race track together in a short time and begin promoting. They were the doers of the racing community. And the racers generally respected them, because they knew how hard they were working. I'm just saying it's a different time now. I don't know that I would want to be a promoter if I had the money to invest in the sport today.
First of all, I don't like what we present as a racing program to the fans. It's no wonder attendance is down at so many venues. You're going to tell me that an 8 or 10 car division is acceptable? We had a word for 10 cars back in the day. Heat race. Now we convince ourselves that we have something with eight cars. That's okay, we can get two heat races, a Trophy Dash and a Main Event with that. Pathetic.
I was just commenting on social media when somebody was reminiscing about Baylands Raceway Park. What a place that was. It wasn't that it was a special facility. The place was kind of run down actually. But the racing on that track was exciting, and they had lots of different types of divisions to choose from. The end of that track sparked the first case of what I call Divisionitis. That is to say, too many divisions at one race track in one night.
John Soares Sr., or Pops as many of us called him, was an opportunist. This wasn't the first time he benefited from a race track's closure. Actually, after the Vallejo Speedway Super Stock and Street Stock program ran their final season in 1979, Pops invited the racers to Petaluma in 1980. He even gained a new Director Of Competition.
Baylands was a different sort of animal. There were a lot of misplaced divisions. Sprint Cars were there for the taking. Mini Stocks had been a part of Fremont racing going back to the 1970s and still continue at Petaluma to this day along with the Sprint Cars. There were other classes for the taking. Two of the groups decided to form their own clubs and race elsewhere. Petaluma had about 150 cars packing the pits, and it was non stop racing. They usually got the entire program in without cutting laps too.
What it was was you had David Vodden looking hard to find a new venue to replace Baylands. At one time, he was looking at Vacaville, where the drag strip used to be. It's a shame the city fought against that idea. It would have been a perfect location. Vodden came to Soares with this crazy proposal to add so much more to what was already a good program.
However, there were some kinks in the armor at Petaluma. The Super Stock division that had been the mainstay at that track for a decade was suddenly the POSSE Super Stock Tour. Late Models had taken over, but they didn't have the car count of their predecessor. The American Stock division had just begun, but it to wasn't that big. The Dirt Modified division was the first of its kind in California, but they too were building. Cars were needed, and Vodden was offering the perfect solution. The rest, is history.
I seem to recall people criticizing the move, but if you're a racing fan, you got a lot of racing. The Sprint Cars, American Stocks and Street Stocks had huge car counts, and the Mini Stocks and Late Models weren't doing too bad either. I still feel the show the track had in the early 1980s was second to none, but this wasn't too bad either. Pops did a good thing for the racers who needed a track, but he also made a ton of money. Critics might have balked at what he was doing, but they wouldn't have passed up this opportunity either.
This signaled the end of two division racing at most of the tracks. Three divisions was the norm for a few years, and then it became four divisions. The problem with that is you're giving racers too many options. It seemed like a good idea at the time. You're getting more cars in the pits, but eventually car count takes a hit. When John Soares Jr. took over Antioch, he made a few moves that grew the car count bigger than it had ever been in the track's history. As the announcer and Publicity Director in 1999 and 2000, I can say that we were putting on one hell of a show.
But, the precedent had been set. Too many divisions. You don't need two entry level divisions, which we had with Mini Trucks being added along with the Hobby Stocks. We still had a real Street Stock division and Limited Late Models were added. The Dirt Modifieds were there and we added the successful Wingless Specs Sprints. Let's not forget the Dwarf Cars. There were nights when we had four divisions that had B Mains with 120-130 cars packing the pits. Eventually, car count falls. The divisions still had enough cars to justify their existence, but the show became a shadow of its former self.
I do not mean to signal out Antioch Speedway when I say this. It's just that I'm more acquainted with Antioch. However, this has happened at other places as well. As a promoter, you're still targeting that magic number of at least 60 cars in the pits. It used to be that you were getting that with two divisions, but that's not the time we live in now. So you take your divisions and rotate them around so that people get nights off. Racers aren't the racers they once were. You can't book them 26 times in a season and expect that they'll make every race. It doesn't happen anymore. At about 14 race dates, they start missing shows. Heck, they do that on a 10 race schedule.
This is an instance where having too many divisions can actually become a promoter's friend in 2018. You might still make that magic number with five or six divisions while the other divisions get weeks off and come back next week. It's still not the show it once was, and I have to think that even casual fans come out and don't see the magic. Jim Robbins used to remark how he always saw so many new faces up in the stands when I was out there at Antioch in 2015. On one level, that's great. However, it would be better if you saw them new fans while still keeping the old fans. We might be able to draw 1100 fans in the stands some 18 or 19 years ago, but 500 or 600 fans seems to be the norm these days. Some nights we do better than others.
Everybody has a solution on how to fix this. We all know. But it's not as easy as that. I'd like to think if we had a better show on the track, that would translate. Fans would be more willing to spend their hard earned dollars on a show that was more entertaining and competitive. I've seen the same kind of thing up here. We're mimicking the model I see at Antioch in some ways. I still believe that a better show equates to more fans coming out.
How do you get the fans to come out? We all have our answers. I know you have to hype it up. This is what I do. But, where do you put it out at? I still go for newspapers, because they still exist. I'm a relic. I will go down with that ship. However, I don't just focus on newspapers. Everybody is online these days, and people do check out the online news sites. If they're willing to run my article, they get it. But, even that's not enough.
Both John and Mike have spoken of the value of radio ads, but even they would say it's not doing what it once was. For starters, which radio stations do you listen to as a fan? If we're advertising on a country station and our fans are into rock and roll, what is it going to gain us? Do you put it on a sports news station? I've heard that those people only care about ball games. So, you could be a few hundred to $1,000 in the hole that week trying to advertise and not gain that money back in ticket sales.
I've heard people up here say that we don't advertise at all, but we do advertise. And I know this is the same everywhere. In some cases, you've got the magic formula. You put out the money to spread your word, and your word is getting where it needs to go. The fans hear it, and they show up. This is the struggle that we work on every week. We take it one week at a time, and we don't take it for granted. If you have a good week, you can't even brag about it too much. You've got to go back and do it again next week. And you may not be able to do it the same way and be successful.
What I'm saying is we need to be grateful as racing fans that promoters, whomever they are, are risking their own money to open the gates. They don't owe us anything. To those people who say, you need to do this, that and the other thing before I'll ever come out there, may you not lose your race track while you're waiting for Utopia Speedway. Chances are, you will. You're never going to find a track that is 100% to your liking. But, if you find one that is 80%, isn't that enough? Most of us won't find a job that is 100% to our liking, but if we can get 80%, and we can take home a paycheck, is that good enough?
It's not a fun time to try to maintain a race track. It's one of the reasons I'm looking for the door. It's very frustrating to see the sport as it is now and remember what it once was. The romantic in me sees it and sees what it could be, but I remind myself that I'm probably fooling myself. The same things that mean so much to me when it comes to sport mean something different to different people. I can go right on doing what I do, and it may never be enough. I know it's not enough for me personally in what I need in my life, but it saddens me to realize it may not be enough to help the sport either.
That leaves me being grateful for the times that I've had, grateful for the opportunity I have now, appreciative of the promoters who are out there making it happen and also respectful of each and every racer who does their best to show up every week and entertain the fans. It's not easy for a racer either. They have more demands, just as the average person does. That 20 race schedule may be impossible for them, but they'll give it their best to make a 14 race schedule as much as they can.
Funny all this started with me remembering the letters after the numbers. Those were the days. Really, it's what hooked me on this sport. The beginning days of my beloved Street Stock division and my all time favorite Sportsman division. Watching drivers come from the back of the pack in full fields to score victories. It hooked me. I can only say that had I seen the sport I see now when I first started back then, you wouldn't be reading these words right now. I just go out there and hope for the best. Here's to a good 2018 season, wherever you race!
That's all for now... The Editor
Marysville Raceway Race Results February 24
Sherm And Loree Toller Memorial
Pat Harvey Jr.
Pat Harvey Jr.
Hunt Wingless Spec Sprints
Terry Schank Jr.
Tim Sherman Jr.