Ever wonder where the track atmosphere of the good ole’ days went? I wonder about that quite a bit. Most of the time we struggle to re-capture that electric atmosphere, and I know what one missing element is.
Successful tracks have a connection between the drivers and the fans. The fans love some drivers, hate some others, but if a bond can be formed, fans will buy a ticket to see what happens. Personally, I used to love watching a new driver develop from their start in the junker class, then moving up to something faster, and maybe ending up a contender in the late models. Do you realize how infrequently this happens anymore?
With few exceptions, I think most drivers skip over the development phase and jump straight into something fast. Possibly, their developmental years may have been in karts, THEN they jump into a SLM. We tend to miss out on the process, and the fans don’t form a bond as readily. If the fans are not interested in what is going on, then…
In a way I’m glad we have lots of teenagers who can buy rides in high dollar cars. The more cars the better! I’m not saying that ride buyers, especially the very young ones, are bad for racing, because they are not. The game has changed and these young racers are doing what they have to do to get involved. Its just that we lose the concept of the “local hero” or “local villian”, and I think it is a lot harder to sell tickets to see brand new names that are here one week and gone the next.
A local exception: Rich Clouser, a guy who built his own stuff, moved up steadily and is a contender any time he straps in.
It also feels a little odd to me, knowing that legendary car racers like Jimmy Cope, Dick Anderson and Gary Balough are now free agent crew chiefs, for young drivers, whose parents have the money to buy their services. I don’t blame them at all for going that route, but I have to wonder… if racing hadn’t gotten so expensive, would these guys have been Florida’s version of Red Farmer, Junior Hanley or Jody Ridley, racing into their 60’s and 70’s, with fan followings at each track?
That’s one reason I really enjoy watching the TBARA. No matter how rich dad and mom are, money can’t hide a lack of talent when they get behind a TBARA sprint car. Money will still help them finish better, of course, but they aren’t going to beat Decaire, Kempgens, Brazil (and of course Hollinger! :cool008: ) in one of those things, unless they’ve got talent.
everyone likes “thought” of doing something until it starts to resemble work, then they try something new. I think being “old school” means accepting the work part. Some of us actually enjoy the work part also.
I’ve enjoyed watching Jason Garver progress from a pure stock to mods and a late model over the years. He still runs all three! I really miss racing AGAINST him more though!! Maybe someday…a guy can dream.
One young fellow I really miss is Patrick Conrad… He progressed from the Bandoleros to Legends and was nearly unbeatable in both… He took to the LM cars easily and won a few races with a family operation that was certainly not high-dollar, but the expense of doing it and the economy put his career on the back-burner…
What ever happened to him, he always had good looking cars?
These rich kids race till either daddies money runs out or they realize they are never going to be the next Jeff Gordon. and some feel they are too good to run a lower class. One reason I always respected Clouser and Pierce because you will still see them run a super stock, sportsman or truck once in a while.
I think most of the “ride buyers” look at racing and most everything else they do as a way to get their 15 minutes of fame. Then reality sets in and they realize how much work it is and that they are not going to race right up the ladder to NASCAR and they leave to try something else little do they know success in anything ain’t easy.
The problem I see, is that all these 2-3 year rich kids drive up the costs for everyone else. David Rogers has worked his ass off for a career, yet now some rich Daddy can afford the best of everything, and a hired crew chief, and are on a par with what Rogers can do. Davids experience, knowledge and set-up abilities mean nothing without a monster motor, a tire budget to throw on 4 new skins each night… just to keep up with what everyone else can just go out and buy.
This is not such a problem on dirt. All the budget in the world won’t win you races if you can’t RACE. Not just drive fast, but actually RACE. Guys with open trailers and 3 week old tires are still gonna whip some kid with a double-stacker and fresh tires every week, until that kid learns to race.
Did you also notice that with the arrival of the “rich daddies” we also seen the departure of lining up by the 4 week point average or inversion after qualifying. Just another way to make it easier for a young kid to be able to drive fast and not have to race.
I have been involved in racing for 25 years and have seen tons of these “next big things” come, drive up the cost of racing, get bored, then leave to do something else.
Something to remember, many veteran teams are still around because of young funded drivers. They provide the revenue necessary to keep the veteran team active in racing. It is common for a driver to work his way through the ranks, race for many years, and turn his experience and knowledge into a racing business supporting these funded drivers. You guys can’t honestly tell me you would pass up on an opportunity to learn from a veteran driver, drive his car, have track support, and have a few years of local recognition if your parents supported you financially. Come to think of it, I’m a bit jealous.
Perspective check: our sport must attract AND retain young drivers. This shouldn’t be a thread to bash ride buyers. They are playing by the rules, its just a different game now. My goal was to point out my belief that fans connect with the colorful characters in racing, and will pay to see the next chapter. IMHO, much of that connection is missing, and its hard to establish it when someone runs with us for a few races and then moves on.
Boneman, you’re correct about retaining these guys. It’s a different generation. Many of these kids grew up playing sports where it didn’t matter what the score was or if you won or lost. Everyone got a trophy. They want the rewards but many do not want to work for them. When I was younger I and most people my age would get a car and work on it to some extent. Racers worked on their own cars, built them, raced them, wrecked them, and rebuilt them. Most of the short track racers still do that. There are not as many younger people that enjoy or want to work on their own cars. Those with the money may be willing to hire someone else to do the work. However, we don’t have many “grassroots” racers learning the ropes. Even the ones that do enjoy working on cars dream of working for a “NASCAR” team. Others may go to school and learn to repair a modern car with all the electronics and computers. But that really doesn’t translate into what we knew as racing. I think I see two distinct problems. One is the attitude that it’s not necessary to work to win and that is prevalent in our culture today. Our generation is to blame for that. (Not me though. LOL) The other issue I see, is racing as we know it, has to change. It’s been said many times here about the insanity of racing 40 year old carburetor aspirated, 8 cyl., rear wheel drive cars. To get the few younger people, who are interested in “auto mechanics”, to become part of our racing is going to require changes. I haven’t seen any indication that is happening anywhere in the country. Unless it changes, I foresee attendance and participation at racetracks declining to nothing in 20 or 30 years. It’s going to take a group of tracks to get together and form a set of rules and divisions for these cars. Not to just race as we do today, but to invent something the younger set will want to participate in.
Not to just race as we do today, but to invent something the younger set will want to participate in.
[B][I]From what I can gather from those Drift shows I attended, maybe a bunch of shorts races would be more attractive to the young than those ‘‘never ending’’ 100+ lappers we are use to.
One thing I have notice too, is that the younger like it when there are juges involved. And a part where ‘‘They’’ (the fans), are involved in the judging of the drivers performances. In drift shows, they are. EX how it could apply to stock car: Boneman starts 2nd , pass one car during the race and win. Meanwhile Frasson X start from the rear(17th), drives up to 4th, drives high groove, low groove, 3 wide, & so on. Boneman won the race, no contest to that, but lets ask the fans who gave the best show, who won the entertainment award of the night!?!?!??!!?
If you really have to have one of those driver intro, get a decibel meter, get the Fans involved, turn it into a contest.[/I][/B]
Not a bad idea Andre’, but some drivers will always get lot’s of applause, even if they do nothing. Look at Dale Jr. on the major league level.
In NY, Brett Hearn use to get the boos, while Bob McCreadie was a fan favorite for years. Both were winners but McCreadie was liked by the “working man” contingent. But your idea has merit and I know the drifting has been tried in the past down here and I think I just saw it advertised for somewhere today. We just have to convince the fans of the drifting competitions, that racing on dirt has been doing it for years. LOL Seriously, I’ll add they could adapt the competition to dirt with the cars they use in drifting competitions now. They might not like cleaning them after though.
I use to go to quite a few of the 100 lap events, and even the 200 lappers, when I lived in NY. I’m trying to think of the last one I saw down here. I know there are still some on asphalt, but I can’t think of the last one on dirt. Maybe the NeSmith show at East Bay last fall was. I don’t remember. Anyway, it does appear they have gone to shorter races on the dirt down here.
How about these tracks and race sites start promoting some of these drivers you guys are talking about. I keep hearing about promotion for races and tracks but, put these ?Local Hero?s? out there. Promote your tracks loyal cast of characters for this Saturday night soap opera.
You want a kid who has worked his way up and who flat has talent behind the wheel. Can take the race car apart and put it back together. Racing since age eight. Two karting championships, A dirt sportsman championship, just won his first asphalt race in his fourth start (sportsman), and has done it with the smallest budget imaginable. He is already is coaching drivers on dirt at 17 years old. And most of you have never heard of him unless you have read some of my posts, Blaise Hetznecker.
In the old days it would have been guys like Blaise getting rides from the veteran teams to win the money. Now they just run laps getting the parents paycheck But, whoever said it is right, it?s now what they have to do to survive. No fault in it.
Most of it comes down to the track announcer. When I was a kid, they told us about the drivers background, occupation (good for business relationships), hometowns, nicknames, recent success or bad crashes… plus the occasional “watch these 2 guys… They have a history with each other”.
Stuff like that prompted people to pull for, or AGAINST certain drivers.
Now all we get are names, numbers, and an occasional hometown.
Walt Disney had a great theory for entertainment… You HAVE to, in the first 5 minutes, establish a hero and a villian. Maybe not to this extreme, but to some extent, it could and SHOULD be used in racing… Black hats/White hats, Good Cop/Bad Cop…