Friday, February 6, 2015

High School Racing Programs

This chapter was written to be part of my auto bio, but it didn't quite fit there.  However, it fits in the blog just fine.  I think it makes a good point, but what do I know?  At the end of the article is a special DCRR Racing Radio Show I recorded after a conversation with my friend Joe Martinez.  I see the site is playing games with me again.  The audio may not appear at the bottom, but the link is still there...


Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback


I was up in Reno in 2002 when Chuck Griffin and I were in a seminar listening to the presentation on High School Racing.  I was aware that they were doing this at some Southern California tracks and getting good results.  It's a neat idea and the concept is simple.  Get area high schools involved in auto racing and give the schools another thing to build up school spirit.

You have the auto shop class with the kids building a car.  You have a coordinator for each school.  This is somebody who helps get the car and supervises things.  The students will all learn how to work on a race car and what goes into every aspect of it.  This includes fund raising to pay for things.  The senors get to drive.  You can even get other areas of the school involved.  The art class can paint the car, journalism class can cover the races.  There are learning opportunities here, and there's the whole school spirit thing. 

The schools are competing against each other in whatever races are scheduled.  On those nights, students come to the races from those schools, meaning you have more fans as their parents are there as well.  That's good for the track.  It can earn the track new fans and train future drivers.  There is a lot of potential here.

Of course, many schools don't even have an auto shop class anymore, so this would take an effort to get schools interested in signing off on the deal.  What's in it for them and their students and that sort of thing.  The end result is the area schools compete for the honor of league champion based on which school earns the most points.  There are plenty of lessons for students to learn here.

They learn what it takes to work on and maintain a race car, how to land sponsorships for their race cars, how to be good sports, how to deal with the media.  Plus, boys and girls can compete in these cars.  In the Antioch area, it could be huge if the track could get people to help put it together.  Get a few drivers who aren't racing lately and bring them in as mentors.

It never quite worked out for Merced.  They never had more than two or three schools involved.  I can easily see a half dozen schools in the Antioch-Bentwood-Concord area being involved, and it could be a hit  Put them in Four Bangers in their own race.  Another aspect that could be explored is bringing in students, perhaps from KVHS, and letting them announce the school races.  Maybe even broadcasting it live on the radio.

There is so much potential, but a lot of effort would be needed to start the ball rolling.  I think that attracting new racers should be a priority, and this is one way to help make it happen.  I can also see lots of potential in the Mini Dwarf Car an Jr. Sprint classes running on a track on the inside of the main track. They already do this at tracks like Ventura Raceway and Bakersfield Speedway, and these are future stars of those tracks. I think a few of them have moved up in classes too.  Every little bit helps.  Of course, it requires effort, and these days, those with the power are more interested in taking the easy road.

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 10 by GenWhat