This subject was brought up in a different thread. I feel that it is such an important topic that it deserves its own thread.
Can anyone give a plausible reason why handicapping is not used at Asphalt Short Tracks in Florida?
Currently just about everywhere heats are run or time trialing is conducted and then a pill or dice is pulled shuffling a few cars at the front of the field. The fast cars settle the race quickly amongst themselves at the front of the field and everyone else settles in for whatever finish they can muster. This system does NOTHING to create a good race for the fans, passing is kept to a minimum and unless you’re a top qualifier you have little to no hope of winning the race.
IMO a good handicapping system can do wonders to improve the show without costing the track owners a dime. However full inverts off of time trials or heats would lead to sandbagging which is no improvement. Inverting based on points doesn’t work either because you are left with the conundrum of what to do with the occasional competitor. Starting them up front isn’t fair and neither is making them start shotgun every week. To me the best system is to total either your finishes or your money won from the last three weeks. A caveat to this system is to weight all the races the same by using the regular purse for handicapping purposes, scoring a win and a half for weeks you miss, scoring a double win for guys who are DQ’d and allowing feature winners to start no better than 5th.
This system is a win-win for fan and competitor alike. As a fan you will get to see passing throughout the entire field. As a competitor you are rewarded for your loyalty to your track, theoretically have the opportunity to pass a lot of cars every race and also have a legitimate shot at winning (if you can get your sh*t together). The only thing I can see that a Debbie Downer can rag about is that “new guys won’t come if they have to start in the back.” Is local short track racing in such dire straits that we fear the unknowns not coming more than wanting to reward your loyal competitors who DO show up every race? If that’s such a concern then why not simply give a $100 bonus to anyone that can come from the back to win? The pit passes that team buys will more than make up for the extra C note over them not coming at all. Now, God forbid, you might have to work with the track nearest you to have a schedule that won’t conflict divisions but IMO that’s as hard as totalling up three dollar amounts and sorting those amounts from lowest to highest. This system would even work for Touring Series.
Better show for the fans with more passing all through the field and a less predictable outcome.
Every racer feels that he has a legitimate shot to win.
Every racer has the opportunity to pass some cars every race.
Racer loyalty is rewarded by a better starting position making you want to come every race.
A good handicapping system WILL increase fan count AND car count.
Sounds great to me, but it is conducive to more, shall we say, more expensive racing…
I can remember Dave Scarborough occasionally coming to Orlando Speedway, Jim McGurk also. It was a lock they were going to start in the rear, they knew that before they pulled in.
Generally speaking, both drove to the front.
JD Lewis also, but he blew up a lot on his way there…[/QUOTE]
I respectfully disagree that it leads to more expensive racing. Guys that can afford to be reckless and choose to do so will always be reckless. Guys that can’t, won’t. One thing I forgot to mention is that track officials will have to stress and enforce a zero tolerance for people wantonly running over guys to get to the front. Same for mirror blocking.
OS touched on what my concern would be. Getting run into and over. Scott, you mentioned the other, blocking. It also seems to me in my experience the seriously faster drivers always end up at the front anyway, unless they get taken out, or blocked.
I agree, Joe. But shouldn’t they have to earn it and put on a show for the fans in the process? What is the point of even racing if we are going to just concede that the same guys will win ALL the time? Are we supposed to just make it easy for them so that, you know, nobody gets hurt in the process? IMO the same guys winning EASY every week keeps more fans and competitors away than it draws. Conversely racing is only as rough as the officials allow it to be.
I will give an admitted extreme example of what the handicapping system I mentioned can do.
In 1999 in the Stafford Motor Speedway Late Model Division there were 16 different winners in 22 races. So many people won that there were not enough non-winners to abide by the “winners can start no better than 5th” rule! That’s what a good handicapping system (along with a good competitive field of cars) can do.
Handi-cap might just be the answer…as it is now…boring is an understatement…fast cars up front sux,big time…watching them work thru traffic shows there real talent…as a fan…I love to see any fast car start in the rear and come to the front and get the W…OSF
I couldn’t agree more Scott. But it does seem to be taboo in Florida, and not just on asphalt. I remember Bubba tried handicapping modifieds and boy did a few of them complain. A few threatened to stop racing there and that was the end of that. He caved into their demands. I’d just as soon see time trials done away with also. But the same ones who complain about handicapping start complaining that they will wreck their cars if they have to start behind the “squirrels”. They’re the same ones who complain when they wreck trying to lap them.
The way it was done years ago - at many Florida tracks (Orlando, Vero, Palm Beach, Sunshine, Golden Gate, Hialeah, you name it…):
You went on a four-week point average. The higher you were in the points, the further back you started. If you missed two weeks, you automatically went to the rear of the field, behind the high-point cars. Same with heat races; fast cars in the back. Gave some of the “slower” guys a chance at at least a heat win or two throughout the year.
We’d start 28+ (Super) Late Models, and still go to the front in a “regular” 25-lapper. I can remember some nights with three heats of Late Models; at least four or five heats of Street Stocks/Mini Stocks.
The fast guys will go to the front no matter what - if they can drive the high side. Of course your cars that start up front will do what they need/can to stay up front, but, once a good RACER gets going on the outside, ain’t no stoppin’ him (or her). That Ol’ SF said it best: watchin’ the fast guys work traffic and know they only have about 25 laps or so to do it makes it a SHOW for the fans - and the good ones will do it withOUT wrecking someone or themselves.
That’s what made short track racing great when I was growin’ up in the '70s and '80s. Heat races = more racing for the fans. Heat races = more track time for the drivers. Fast guys in the back = GREAT racing.
I am a old time racer when I get to you , give me a line .you want to run the bottom give me outside you want to run outside give me bottom. you start blocking I will move you… I would also put IOU’s on front bumper. racing as it should be. enjoy life.
Great points from some of this boards well respected long-time posters.
As Superfan OSF points out, the show has gotten boring with fast guys just checking out and, another issue, overuse of time trials (which basically eliminates any use of handicapping even if it were in place). Handicapping as well as heat races put on a show. Of course a show geared toward travelers, like the Governor’s Cup, should be time trialed. However, ANY show with weekly guys should have heats. Also, I like lately how some local tracks are paying points for heat race finishes. Gives you incentive to compete harder, even with a short field. One of the things handicapping does is also give that incentive. No matter how big or small the total field is you need to have a “transfer” number for that heat. Now I know car counts lately don’t mandate sending guys home or even running a consi but you need to have a cutoff for the handicap to not start the totally uncompetitive “turtle” on the pole. If there are 7 cars in the heat, take 5 for the handicap. The other two start behind the handicapped cars in the feature. This cleans up the feature a bit and gives you something to race for in the heat.
As Winger points out, some guys may whine and want to take their ball and go home (like at Bubba’s). Look, racers are racers. We may think we have the upper hand and can flex our muscle by threatening not to come. Bottom line is we want to race. It would take a hell of a lot more than this to make most of us “park it” if the bluff is called. If you are a track operator and go to handicapping YOU MUST STEP UP AND SHOW THAT YOU WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO NOT LET THINGS GET OUT OF HAND FROM THE GIT-GO! In addition, racers need to understand this is for the betterment and health of our struggling sport. We must look at the big picture.
I like Jimmy’s explanation of the local handicapping system of yesterday. Sounds like that could work again. It’s a little more forgiving than the one I mentioned because it doesn’t give the “death penalty” for missing one week. To the rear after missing two is resonable. What you don’t want is guys staying home then rewarding that destructive behavior with a pole shot. There needs to be a reward for showing up every race.
In regards to Old School’s comments, yes this will create “drama”. And drama, my friends, = entertainment. But drama doesn’t need to be of the destructive wrecking/fighting nonsense. For the “real” racefans and racers there is no better drama than COMPETITION. I guess I am of the ilk of Dave41 and have that old school view of racing. When I catch you, give me a line high or low and I’ll do my best to get around you as clean as possible. Drive in the middle of the racetrack looking in the mirror and blocking and I will move you best I can without trying to wreck you. Chop me when I’m cleanly under you and I will dump you. When the shoe is on the other foot and you are faster, I will give you a line to run in and not chop you. Respect is what will make this all work and not be so messy. Unfortunately not everyone is of this mindset, so the officials will have to set the bar right away.
Now, let’s hear from some current drivers. Are you for or against this idea and why?
“I guess I am of the ilk of Dave41 and have that old school view of racing. When I catch you, give me a line high or low and I’ll do my best to get around you as clean as possible. Drive in the middle of the racetrack looking in the mirror and blocking and I will move you best I can without trying to wreck you. Chop me when I’m cleanly under you and I will dump you. When the shoe is on the other foot and you are faster, I will give you a line to run in and not chop you.”--SG
Sounds smooth enough to me. What could possibly go wrong? Line 'em up!
Seems like they’re scared of this Old School! I ran in a handicapping system for years, it works real well. There’s really nothing to fear. There may be a few “growing pains” when it’s first implemented but that should be easy to work out.
If the drivers are as respectful and clean as you claim, there should be no issue lol!!!
Truthfully, even in our roughest division (Limited Sportsman) you might get a few donuts on the doors from the faster guys forcing the issue a bit here, but 99 times out of 100 guys are pretty good about getting through the field. Those fast guys that run up front generally understand that when they get stuck back in traffic due to a handicap, you have to be intelligent and methodical about how you get back to the front.
Bottom line is, it will create a better show, give some of the lower buck or slightly slower cars a chance to run up front and occasionally contend for a win. When the show gets better, the crowds get larger.
[QUOTE=OldSchool+;158991]Aw, I dunno, “scared” and “racers” are kind of incongruous… (Phil, that means they don’t go together good).
At the end of the day it seems like it is the promoter’s call. Seems like it depends on which gate the Promoter is trying to, um, promote.[/QUOTE]
A handicap promotes BOTH gates It gives more guys towards the middle and rear who are still fast but not fast enough to catch someone who runs away with a race from the pole, a chance to contend a bit. The cream will always rise to the top eventually, but it makes it a lot more interesting and doesn’t just give the usual top guns an easy Sunday ride.