Some cockeyed food for thought.

A friend of mine attended the inaugural Lucas Oil Late Model Series Dirt Million at Mansfield Speedway in Mansfield Ohio over the weekend.One hundred forty latemodels attempted to make a 24 car starting field.The winners cut you ask? Try on 203k dollars.Yes that’s right two hundred three THOUSAND dollars.Meanwhile Citrus County Speedway held a Wheelman Sportsman Series event Saturday night that paid one thousand to win and had twenty five cars.(Which is a very respectable field–by the way Joe Winchell won)But also Citrus held a demo derby Saturday night that paid $1500 to win and had six cars.Now I like Citrus County and have damn near made it my second home this year but seriously does anyone else see a problem here?

The problem is that as a rule, Florida asphalt short track racing can’t draw flies. The many reasons have been debated ad-nauseum. Dirt track racing does not seem to have the same issues.

Since we are throwing around ideas…

Will the Million at Mansfield be repeated next year? In other words, was that event viable, or did it bankrupt the organizers? For the record, I hope it worked great.

Was the demo at Citrus for full sized cars? It seems like the compact car demos (read: easy to obtain) are pretty successful and well attended. It is interesting that some tracks still want to run full sized demos, and most of the entries are pre-mangled and look like they have already been in 10 derbies. That is just my opinion but it seems like those events need to be a thing of the past. We can no longer expect a field full of Chrysler station wagons anymore that we could hold a 100 car enduro full of V8, RWD cars.

Will be very interesting to see how many Super Lates come to the flag at Citrus on Sept 8, as according to their facebook page they will be paying $10,000 to win, $3,500 for 2nd, 2,000 for third, $1100. for 4th and $1,000 for 5th. Hope it’s a great success. Not a million but a very good purse by Florida standards.

Boneman,in response to your questions,since I wasn’t in Mansfield Ohio over the weekend the only answers I can give is this; apparently the dirt million was a big success and it appears,at least at the moment that it hasn’t bankrupted anyone and very possibly will be repeated.According to my friend a couple noteworthy events happened during the event that may(or may not)hinder future events at this first rate facility.The first was reportedly the flagman was knocked unconscious by a dirt clod during the event.The bigger drawback was reported to be a glass (or lexan?) panel being knocked out of the VIP box onto the crowd below during an altercation.I don’t know if any injuries resulted since I only have a second hand account of the events and can only hope it doesn’t spring forth any potential lawsuits against the track.As far as the demo at Citrus,I stayed home Saturday because of what appeared to be a rain out night.The video I have seen of it from Saturday was hard to tell from the distance it was taken from but I do know demos they have held earlier this year where I was in attendance were compacts.


And I plan on having my tail parked in the turn four stands for it too.Its a much needed purse being thrown out there by Citrus that night.Now the bigger question.Will it draw a field in equal proportion to the purse.If it doesn’t all I can say is this.First off to all the Florida tracks as a whole,STOP relying on Facebook alone to draw attention to your track and events.To the racers in Florida why weren’t you there.Christmas doesn’t come around every day and purses like that don’t come around in Florida blacktop racing every week either.If that event doesn’t at least draw 35-40 superlates something is badly wrong.

My whole point of this thread is this

While I understand the Lucas Oil series is a high dollar operation complete with a television contract,corporate backing and money behind it and everything that comes with it,the winners share at Mansfield was almost two hundred times the amount of a latemodel win on any Florida blacktop oval.And a six car demo derby that pays towards double of what an actual full blown racecars winning cut does shows just how undervalued the top divisions are at Florida (and other states) ovals also.To me it’s laughable.A guy who has a few hundred bucks in a refugee from a junkyard gets paid approaching double of the winner of an event with actual racecars that cost many thousands.Something is sadly,and badly out of proportion in my eyes.

The Sept. 8th Late Model show at Citrus County Speedway is going to be a big one. Cars not normally seen at Citrus have already said they’re going to be there. One of the nicest facilities in short track racing,and a huge purse. There’s really no reason not to turn out for this show.
Big money races have been the norm in drag racing for many years. There’s the annual Million Dollar race ( won several years ago by Dave Triplett from Eustis ) that draws a huge field of cars. But of course it’s also much more expensive to enter than a normal show. There have even been Million dollar demo derbys, but also with a big dollar entry fee.

I imagine the big payout for the Demo Derby was to try to bring in as many cars as possible to put on a good show. Not many cars showed up, but it sure wasn’t because of the payout.

As far as I understand the Wheelman Series sets their purse for their events and utilizes their own officials at their events so I’m not directly laying blame or pointing fingers at Citrus nor the other two venues involved in the series.As far as the demo goes,following the line of thinking that more payout draws more cars,then you should also follow that same logic when it comes to the actual racing divisions.The support classes at Citrus and Auburndale have been pathetic this season.I have sat through two,three,and four car features in multiple events this season at both places and seen the same in posted results from other venues around the state.My point is this.The payout on the demo is a direct attempt to make a guy feel like he has a chance to walk away from the track that night with a few bucks in his pocket and show an actual PROFIT.Something that 40 years ago you had an actual chance of doing in a regular racing division.But those days have passed and offering up a thousand or two (or less) to a guy that has double,triple or more invested is not a viable model for very long.Example? Pure stock fields at Citrus County last year usually had fifteen or so cars in a feature.This year many times ten or eleven.And it has been even worse in the mini stock division.And whether anyone associated with the speedway will admit it or not the crowds are smaller also.Last year even in the worst heat of the dog days of summer if you got there late you had to search for a seat to squeeze into.That has been FAR from the case this year.The crowds have been consistent so I’m not sounding a death bell here but honestly there is a noticeable difference in car count AND general admission attendance this season.

Smaller fields and smaller crowds seems to be the trend in Florida. Thankfully Citrus has been affected less than the other tracks. But all they can do is keep trying to bring in racing that fans will pay to watch.
I think you bring up a good point about payouts, not that they haven’t kept up with the cost of racing which they haven’t of course. But the fact that even good payouts aren’t necessarily bringing in cars anymore. At least not in the numbers you would expect. But as was mentioned earlier, we’ve yet to come up with a reason for that, and there have been hundreds if not thousands of discussions on this board concerning that very topic.

On the topic of diminishing crowds and racer turnout, I saw something last week written by a very good automotive writer. He says the reason that interest in auto racing has declined over the years is because auto races are being held in secret. A lack of advertising and marketing yes, but the main culprit is enclosed trailers. I’ve seen this argument before and I do agree completely. As a child I was mesmorized by race cars on open trailers going down the highway to the race track. And I’ve watched children and their parents in cars I passed towing a race car on an open trailer stare at the race car intently and I know the conversation in the car I passed very soon turned to … can we go to the races dad!!!

I agree, I think this certainly part of the problem.

I don’t anticipate a massive switch to open trailers anytime soon, or ever. But I think the idea of getting race cars out in the open again is well worth thinking about. Race cars on display at malls and shopping centers could only help. I know Camron took his OWM and his monster truck to a shopping center in Inverness and drew quite a crowd. Same goes for cars on display at technical schools and high school shop classes to get younger folks interested in race car technology. People need to see and hear race cars to remind them that racing is still around.

As far as the visibility issue I think the idea of saying enclosed trailers are the MAIN reason behind the decline of interest is a bit much of a stretch.Dirt guys use enclosed trailers also and that doesn’t appear to be a huge issue with them.Enclosed trailers that are totally blank or bare certainly doesn’t help since for all anybody knows when one goes by,if it’s holding lawn equipment,antiques or whatever.As far as the idea of mall or store appearances goes why limit it to that? City parks and state parks are also a possibility.Really anywhere with visibility and the ability to access and park would be a possibility.Racing truly has lost it’s visibility and just the fact so many tracks have closed has contributed hugely to that fact.When you have to travel HOURS just to get to the CLOSEST racetrack how can you expect to hold people’s interest.Most people nowadays want convenience and proximity in their daily lives not extended road trips just to be entertained for three or four hours.

cockeyed food…

“The many reasons [for less money being in racing down heah] have been debated ad-nauseum.”–Jacko

Indeed. Speaking of nauseum, 04, your order is up…

More proof of that. Here in St. Augustine, they just opened a fancy car museum/restoration shop/race car shop that Scotty Lagasse is involved in, on the main drive thru town. They had a soft grand opening, and the traffic was backed up for blocks just to see a few race and classic cars.


[QUOTE=OldSchool+;177327]“The many reasons [for less money being in racing down heah] have been debated ad-nauseum.”–Jacko

Indeed. Speaking of nauseum, 04, your order is up…[/QUOTE]

I thought he reported his brothers Lincoln stolen and went on to bigger and better things after he left the Animal House.I didn’t even know he turned up on the menu.So I guess I will have it smoked then grilled with plenty of tarter sauce.It sounds like a good addition to the racetrack concession stand offered up with a great big scoop of tater salad.