[B][I]8 classes on the card tonight!
Did you read that lately for race track advertising? Well, a lot of race fans did and got kind of ??caught??. Wow! Eight classes time twenty some cars per classes, what a show we are going to have tonight!!! Let?s go there.
So they went, to find out less than 10 cars in certain classes and a big 15 in the most populated one. They will not get me again, they rightfully say. This is another group among your tonight fans that you are not ready to see again. Is there a magic number for classes, 3, 4, 7??? Let?s look at it.
What is it that you want to give your fans? Do not forget, no fans, no racing. Some racers will say: what about us? If you have no fans supporting your show, sorry guys, but there will be no racing next week or somewhere down the line. If you want to give your fans an exciting race night, you will need some action over that chain link fence. And action is not 12 cars going round and around. Action is side by side racing, some rubbing, rubber donuts on body panels, spin out, bump and run, smoke and sparks, that is what short track racing is all about. And sorry to disappoint you, but you will not achieve this with 8 cars in a class on a 3/8 mile paved track.
Racers all around are pretty good to convince promoters they should have ?another? class. I know by personal experience. And then, it leads to another one and another one. All of this is very nice and great for the racers side, but not so much for the fans and promoter side. Racers will want to talk promoters into this scenario because it?s a lot easier for them to win in a ten cars class than having to go through heat races, semi, consi, B Features and then, if he made through, the feature.
The more classes you have will spread your car count thin in each. History has shown over the years this will not grow the overall car count. It?s more the opposite reaction. This will just spread it in the numerous classes available. The quality of the show will then suffer tremendously. Race fans will be disappointed and many of them will not come back. It also, on the promoter?s side, increases the expenses, more classes? leads to more purses.
So what?s the magic number? Which classes has to go? How do I get out of these 6, 7 or 8 classes? The one who would know for sure could probably make a small fortune pretty quick, but a baseline at three to four classes would be darn close to the truth. Let?s start by the proven basic. If there is two similar classes, the ones where the average race fan cannot tell them apart from the stands, here?s one too many. Match them up together. That?s for one. You have probably all seen this too, these two classes are the same except this one is 4 barrels and this one has 2 barrels, or this one has 4 street tires and this one has 3 street tires and ONE right front racing slick. These are too similar, pick one set of rules and match them up; you have just double the field, increase the quality of the show, and drop your expenses. Some racers will cry and bitch about it, but you are better off listening to them bitch at a business decision than cry on a closed race track.
Here are two small personal experiences which can make some promoters think twice about their own weekly program. Almost three decades ago, in 1979, when I switch from drag racing to stock car racing, I showed up at our local 1/3 mile dirt track, Autodrome Mt Carmel, and there was ONE class. Yep, seventy eight cars showed up for one class. That was in 79, 15$ to get in the pit, 25$ entry fee, 500$ to win, 250$ for second, 50$ for third, that was it for the purse. They qualified us for almost 2 hours, had an intermission and then cut all the qualification survivors loose for a 50 laps feature. What a blast it was! Was that the right way to do it? Was that promoter nuts? Well, I don?t know but the grand stand was packed and everybody was happy, including the racers, because we all kept going back. Then, through the years, they instated real classes with different rules to sort out the cars, individual class purses, the real nice scenario for racers. The car count never increased, in fact it went down, fan count went down, and so down that this racing facility is closed today. It closed in 1987, not even a decade after it was so successful with ONE class of jalopies.
Here?s another one. In 2000, I started a new class here at our race track that we name Kamikaze. Rules were as simple as they could be. Any cars, 4-6 or V8 were all allowed. They had to be all stock, street cars. No high performance parts allowed anywhere. Street tires, no camber, no nothing. Come race it the way you got it from your grand mother. The first event, in May, two cars showed up, and they were two veteran racers that I knew pretty well. So I went down in the pit and told them, ?I will send you on the track for five laps, give me a show? and they did. The following week we had 15, and by July, we had 40 +. We had every kind of cars from Firenza to Cadillac, all mix up. No yellows unless the track was blocked. Entertaining you say, you better believe it! Then racers started to tell me, ?split the field? ?we are too many? and so on. Believe it or not, I listened to them. What a mistake I did that day. So I split the 4 cylinders and the V8 in two different classes. First thing I knew, I ended up with two 15 cars or less classes. You tell me what kind of improvement I did that day for the fans!!!
So, results from these two examples and many more across the country have shown the fewer classes, the better. Shall we go back to one or two classes, nobody would approve that but 3 or 4 classes, composed of a generous car count in each of them should be enough to filled the night and please your crowd. This keeps the ruling down, keeps the quality of race cars up; they have to race to have a decent starting spot in the feature which leads to less riding around. And, if you can bring all your classes up to a point where they all have to qualify to make the feature, you just hit the jack pot fan entertainment wise. Your racers will all have to show up ready, stay ready all night long, and race the hell out of these cars, now you have a show. Isn?t it what race fans pay for!
That?s it for this feature event.
PS: And don?t forget to support your local short track.[/I][/B]