Dirt VS Asphalt

[B][I]Last Saturday night, you had a Late Model race in East Bay Raceway, 46 cars showed up, at the same time, you had an asphalt Late Model race at CCMP and 13 cars showed up. (Before anybody get upset, it’s an exemple that only prove field are normally lower at paved tracks)

Without bashing or descriminating against one another, is it possible to look at and express what it is that is so attracting to bring 46 at one and so detrimental to attrack only 13 at the other.

Something like take 2 racers 100 miles away from their respective track, what did it cost you to travel and participate for the night at EB Raceway and the same for the other one for the night at CCMP?

This might interesting first, and maybe shed some light on some existing problems that faces racing in general.

Table is set, let’s hear your ideas.

Thanks for reading,


i agree dirt is fun to watch but is it cheaper

how many of those cars drove on the trailer after the race how much did you have to spend to get them back to the races the next week .

how about this did the leader get took out by a car running last that spun out and took out the front running cars . don’t get me wrong i love dirt it’s lot fun very exciting . asphalt is also lot fun and very exciting one of the worst thing now about asphalt tracks is that most of them are wore out and it’s follow the leader . i watched dirt race other night in north carolina 4/10 of mile sprint cars # 20 myres set fast time 12 .239 late model little over 14 seconds now if that don’t get your blood to pumping you need to see a doctor … yea some of the dirt tracks espically easy bay has got it going on and it’s too bad that there are not more cars at asphalt tracks …

Well, you have 3 or 4 dirt tracks in Florida and the rules are about the same. There are about 8 or 9 paved tracks, but most tracks have rules modifications to try to get people to come out, it is hard to know what kind of field you are going to be running against. There are Limited built, Limited with Spec., Limited with crate, Super with crate, Super with spec, Super built, some kind of Hybrid. Pick a rule, and enforce it. Open rules are keeping cars away not bringing more. One type of car is going to be the best for that track, and that is what you will get. The others will stay home. Also, crate motor rules where suppose to be $5,000, and you can’t touch them. Now they open them up and spend $10,000 -$15,000. You haven’t fixed anything. Too many different rules.

I agree with most of the responses, however, here in Georgia, the mixed engine formula seems to be working in special event asphalt races. Lanier had 38 late models for the ASA Moon Pie/RC Cola race in September. Peach State had 35 late models and 13 Super lates yesterday. It’s the weekly shows with the small car count. I attribute this to the fact that you have to buy 4 tires every week to remain competitive. It’s eliminating the small budget late model racer. The late model racers here, tend to be well funded and seem more inclined to travel to certain races rather than race weekly. I would assume the dirt late models at East Bay bought no more than 2 new tires on average, while the asphalt racers at CCMP bought 4 to 6 tires depending on the amount of practice time allotted. I know of many late model teams at Peach State who bought upwards of 12 tires for the entire weekend.
I think, in general, the low buck dirt teams seem to think they have a fighting chance of being competitive. Whether it’s true or not, "the dirt " itself gives the illusion of being the great equalizer.
On asphalt, if you are not quick when you unload, there is virtually no chance of running with the front runners. You are left fighting for the back positions.

Good post maybe we’ll get some driver feedback. I’ll give you a little having run both types of tracks now.
Tires: the dirt Late Models or Owm can race at Ocala Friday night and race another night Vol, East Bay, NFS, Golden Isles the next night without purchasing one tire.
Practice: We essentially don’t have much of a practice now on dirt 4 to 5 laps only. On asphalt we had two to three hours of practice even on a regular race night. This equals wear and tear on everything tires, motors, transmissions ect.
More and more laps on motors means less life.
Someone mentioned dirt being an illusion as far as equalizer. I think it very much is an equalizer. Our track has gone from consistently smooth to some rough nights to bolted down and tacky to black and slippery. We’ve seen a new dirt driver in his first season beat some of the top competitors with a crate motor. We’ve also seen big horsepower late models struggle.
Look at the UDLMCS and some of the tracks purses, I think you find there’s a lot more money to race for through out the year with lower operating costs.

OLD owner driver’s input:
AS an owner it was easier to run pavement (ran 4 or 5 nights a week at the peak) since all you had to do was blow off the dust and go. We had VERY limited warm-ups unless it was a special race. Payoff was OK $500.00 to $600.00 to win and then you got the all important tow money. ($.25 per gallon gas back then)
Downside of pavement was when you hit you hit a LOT harder than dirt. More speed going into a corner and if someone dumped oil the whole field gets wiped out.
We then ran dirt. The upkeep was about the same but the prep and clean up where 10 times longer. Tires lasted longer and so did the frame and body. the suspension was another story. you broke a LOT MORE little things than on pavement. Payoff was around the same until the track wars and others factors. We had more $850 yo $1,000.00 to win shows. Gas was then up to $.65 max an the tow money all but went away except for the traveling clubs.
You built a car for $1,500.00 to $2,500.00 for pavement and around $3,000.00 for dirt. The big thing was we had only 2 classes Modified and Sportsmen. So you could buy an old Modified and drop on a 327 with a carb and race sportsmen. When you where ready you just added injection to start with and went modified. Simple.

You car count is a DIRECT result of to MANY classes to run. Can you just guess what would happen if the old 2 class system came back. We had 50 to 60 Modifieds at every show and at least that many sportsmen cars.
Other than speed weeks when was the last time you saw 5 or 6 heat races and then 1 or conseys to set a 30 car field?

The answer is no longer possible since the 5 to 10 class deal was brought about. I have seen (4) 4 cylinder classes at one track. Old days we had Mini Stocks period. WHY are there so many classes? I go karts it was so everybody could race at their level in cars it is because?

One problem with the tire situation, is that too many tracks see the tire sales to racers, as an income source for their track. There is no incentive for them to limit the tire budgets for teams, when they themselves are the ones who stand to profit from it.

I see no reason (other than tire sales) that so many Asphalt shows have an un-godly amount of practice time. The dirt guys unload, 1 hot lap session of about 3-5 laps, and then start jacking weight around, picking correct gear combos, adjusting shocks… none of which costs money, and zero reasons to keep throwing new tires on every time out. Not to mention, a lot of times USED tires on dirt can be a better set-up than a new one would be.

I think a lot more Late Model teams would turn out, if they could unload, use the same tires they have (if not, limit it to 1-2 new per week), and go racing. The way it is, you can’t show up an hour before the races start and even THINK you’d have a chance against Anderson, Russell, Choquette or Scofield (whatever happened to him anyways?).

Having to be at a track for 2 days for a 100 lap race is ridiculous. How many people have that much free time to dedicate to the racetrack?

I have driven, crew chiefed dirt and asphalt and now am with ken on the UDLMCS, here is my perspective.
Rules and tracks, is why dirt works out better.
The Tire theory is nice but not true, when the Winternationals were run at East Bay with open tire rules a typical tire bill for the week was $10,000 and up BUT this is the 5 days of practice and racing. Where the tire idea holds water is that dirt tires last longer because the tracks don’t eat them with the compounds that are run locally. There are basically 3 sets of rules for Florida with a late model, Tires and engines are about the only difference the other is some still use stock clip chassis. There are 2bbl limited, Iron Limited, Supers and Crates in Florida all using the same chassis and body. Nationally you have as many or more classes as asphalt.
One MAJOR difference is the track can change SO much from beginning to end you can take a car that qualifies dead last and pass everyone on the track in a few laps come feature time. Also because the track changes so much hours of practice are only good for the information while you are on the track. Reading the track and knowing what it is going to do is worth more than 100 hours of practice.
Dirt is MUCH easier on engines than asphalt and they last MUCH longer. There is not such a premium on power on dirt and as the track goes away some engines will never be at wide open. If you are close to the setup of the fastest car on asphalt and running 10hp short you are not going to catch him unless he messes up. They have pit stops to change tires out because the compounds are soft. On dirt you can be 40-50hp short and if he did not read the conditions correctly you are going to pass him like you are 100hp over him. The Tires most series and tracks run on dirt are made for traction and to last and most dirt tracks are not abrasive. We won on tires that had over 400 laps on them, try that on asphalt! The room for error on dirt is MUCH larger also and drivers will correct and keep going only loosing a spot or two where on asphalt IF you catch it without destroying the car you are generally last by the time you get back into line. Dirt tracks generally have more than one grove going into the corner and they allow drivers more options going through the corners which equals more passing which translates to a better show.
Bottom Line, The 17ss at East Bay started dead last with an older 604 crate engine against cars that were over 100-150hp stronger than his and in 40 laps was in the top 5 passing multiple top quality cars each lap. That will not happen on 99.9% of the asphalt tracks in the world.
Dirt tracks generally pay better. Modifieds on asphalt are running for the same or less now than in the early 90’s when I was in them.

While all of the intangibles seem to lean strongly towards dirt racing, I still believe asphalt racing has more potential to draw fans. Most of us on this board are hardcore fans and will happily eat dirt and mud in order to witness a good show. However, the casual or curious fan is probably not willing to spend a lot of entertainment dollars getting sandblasted by dust or plunked by mud clods. I’ve witnessed it many times, the average suburban dad brings his family to a dirt race for the first time. The whole family burying their head as soon as the dirt flies. They usually get up and leave after an hour. I doubt they will ever come back. Even with the best prepped, tackiest dirt track, you are going to get some dirt on you. I realize its called “dirt racing”, I just think it has a limited audience. That being said, dirt tracks seem to be able to assemble that limited audience when the grandstands open.
Even if asphalt tracks have the greater potential fan base, they have done a terrible job on many fronts to attract that base. Most of the reasons are discussed constantly on Karnac.
I also think dirt racing has done a better job creating legitimate stars. Alot of the drivers (Bloomquist, Mars, Lloyd, etc.,etc., etc.) have been racing for decades. These are professional drivers that fans will pay top dollar to watch race. Dirt racing today, kind of reminds me of Winston Cup racing in the 70’s. Established veterans sprinkled with the right amount of up and coming youngsters. You would be hard pressed to name 1 nationally known asphalt short track racer today. With all the young drivers racing asphalt late models today, one would think the future looks bright. The reality is, most of these young guns will leave the sport in a few years when either, they don’t get a NASCAR ride or they simply run out of the funds it takes to continue. Gone are the days of asphalt’s big names (Ridley, Anderson, Trickle, Bickle, etc.).
Does anyone remember when Stock Car Racing Magazine ran a big article on the demise of dirt racing? The article was in the late 80’s. The article basically said that asphalt racing had a better chance of surviving and prospering. I guess all the dirt track folks did’nt bother to read the article.

When the " Demise of Dirt Racing " was written there really was legitimate concern that dirt racing would completely die out . I think this asphalt vs dirt thing runs in cycles . Maybe the fans get burned out on one and start watching the other one . Maybe the racing itself gets stale on one type of track so fans start watching the other . Indy cars were the fans favorite years ago , now its NASCAR . And with all of the empty seats at the NASCAR shows , i’d say fans are losing interest in that too . In the 30s and 40s midget racing ran 7 nights a week . Movie stars were often in the crowd . Everyone dressed up like they were going out to dinner . I happen to love midget racing but there is hardly any fan support for it anymore .