Guest Column: Short Track Racing – A Vision Of Our Sport’s Future Part 9

The following is a guest column from local racer Sean Foster, who also operates the website Short Track Racer with Max Collins 

The views and opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the RaceDayCT staff.

 


 Community Immersion

Sean Foster

In order to create a larger following for short track racing, race tracks have to create a marketing campaign that portrays the sport in a positive manner. Facilities also have to hold credible representation among the local public. To do this, track representatives have to educate nearby citizens and show participation in the surrounding community.

Speedway staff members should occasionally discuss different progressive methods to contain race car noise from neighbors of the track, such as sound barriers and absorbers. Then it is necessary for track personnel to take the time to educate people that our tracks have these noise controlling devices. Instead of fighting with neighbors, work with them and enlighten them.

We have to communicate to neighbors that auto racing is no longer an obnoxious, roughneck type sport. Our speedways are surrounded by good-hearted, hard-working people. They also give the younger generation a place to attend, become a social part of a family-oriented environment, and spend time with other goal-oriented folks. Auto racing teaches hard work and principles of mechanics, technology, & engineering. It is important to encourage neighbors to become part of the speedway community by exposing the beauty of the sport to them (many aspects of which are mentioned in the introduction of this statement).

We should also be contributing to the community. We have to participate, reach out, and be an influence while working alongside the townspeople. It’s important to be understanding… Some people will always shun the concept of auto racing. The best we can do is attempt to educate them, and try to be a positive community member. We have to work on creating a movement of acceptance from the general population.

It is vital for tracks to be involved in community activities. Members of the speedway staff should become involved in local politics and attend town meetings where plans are discussed for the district’s future. It benefits the facility greatly to have an advocate present at such meetings to discuss the positive impact that the race track can have on the future of the local community.

Tracks should also actively be creating and/or participating in charity events and fundraisers. Holiday events are excellent opportunities to contribute to the community by providing entertainment. Halloween festivals with hayrides and Christmas drive through illumination ceremonies with majority proceeds going to selective charities are ideal. Holiday events can start off small and investments can be made over the years to increase attraction. This only makes sense with the race track’s large working space and off-season time frame. They benefit the speedway as a form of income while showing community appeal and immersion.

Other community type events could include harvest fairs, farmer’s markets, family-oriented events, small business fairs, and local food & spirit expositions. These type of events and specialty gatherings are an important part of appealing to a wide variety of demographics and can also provide an opportunity to cross promote with local businesses.

 

Visit Short Track Racer to read the remainder of the column

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Comments

  1. More great points!

    When conflict arises, working with, communicating with, and educating the other side goes a lot farther than “We were here first, deal with it…” …even if 100% true. Anyone with half a brain knows if you’re planning a party that might get loud or busy, you include the neighbors. Folks who are included seem to be a lot more flexible. With a racetrack, that doesn’t necessarily mean getting every neighbor to the track, only making them feel OK about what the track does for them and the area overall. The same goes true for small airports, certain businesses, tourist attractions, exercise trails, and other annoyances to neighbors not interested in attending or using a facility.

    Also, there are many finer points of motorsport that involve strategy, engineering solutions, and genuine thinking by smart, experienced people. The more you can draw the thinking man or woman in, the healthier the sport can become. NASCAR spent a lot of time explaining strategy, technical details, and rules during Cup broadcasts in the 90’s that I think contributed lots to the explosive growth and wider appeal they enjoyed at the time. “Ball” sports often do the same, keeping fans thinking and talking about the sport between games around stats and strategy.

    I have to wonder how the finish of the 2018 Daytona 500 will affect fringe or casual race fans. I saw very little mainstream coverage as to why or why not a race should end the way it did, or why what happened wasn’t some sort of penalty.

  2. Sean I totally agree with you tracks should be a part of the community and should showcase the sport of auto racing. Nowadays the technology involved in a race car is amazing and should be a course offered in tech schools as part of both their automotive and engineering program. I think young kids would be drawn to this and may even spawn some tech schools to field or sponsor a race car. As far as charity allot of racers bring their charity to the tracks and independently raise awareness and money some tracks do make small charity donations but still could do more. Pleasing the neighborhood is a tough thing you’ll always have that one neighbor you can never please who coincidencly happens to be on the board of selectmen in town. All in all short track racing is at a dangerous place. With declining car counts in some divisions and fan attendance starting to slide it’s only a matter of time till the track owner is forced to make a hard decision. Hopefully your series of articles hasn’t fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes and we see these trends turn otherwise sad to say we will all be witnesses to our sport dying. That would be a sad day. Keep up the good work hope to see you racing this year.

  3. Sean great article again. Barry as a long time NASCAR fan, I watched the last 80 laps of the Daytona 500. There were so many commercials it was painful to watch. It reminded really quick why I don’t watch the full races anymore. I will continue to support our local tracks instead of watching NASCAR. I can watch a replay of the final laps and any crash’s and not miss anything.

  4. darealgoodfella says:

    Teams need to put their cars on display at places like shopping centers, busy convenience stores, malls, Fall festivals, schools, etc.

    We had a Ricky Rudd Tide car on display here in town and it caused huge buzz!!! Everybody in town was talking about it.

  5. Get involved with high school Shop class ,offer free tickets to those kids that want to find out what racing is all about. Local neighbors get a free pass or at a discount rate.Have a family day where local residents can meet and have bake sales fleet market type atmosphere inside the main enterance…..Have charaty events were race fans can donate to there favorite ones….Meet and great drivers and have race cars on display for kids to see up close.Have the track offer tours during the week .have drivers make appearance to local non profit groups for kids.Remember this is a young person; sport also women as well as men compete.I know a lot of us are saying that race tracks are grandfather in that they can do what they want. That does not hold true today, let’s try to get everyone on the same page. Their is always those people that hate the sport and will do anything to say ( not in my back yard ) We have some work to do,

  6. This is exactly what the speedbowl is currently going through and has been going through for decades now. They however, have elected to turn the noise debate into an us vs. them relationship which is absolutely not the approach that should be taken.

    Then they bring in racers and fans who aren’t even taxpayers to assist them in defending their case. These individuals need to be aware this is not their town, they are not taxpayers, and while they are entitled to their opinion whether voiced or written it is irrelevant when it comes to town ordinances or regulations. Matter of fact no one other than the principal representing the speedbowl or a taxpayer should be allowed to speak at any of the hearings.

    But that is what happens when you have an individual like you currently have, operating a facility, that does not have a clue what public relations is never mind spell it.

  7. If you look at old videos of Stafford from the 80’s it looks kind of barren with few sound barriers. Now they have the jumbotron, not working clearly but a good sound barrier. And those beautiful pine trees they had the foresight to plant. Add in mufflers and a disciplined nightly schedule that usually wraps up before 10:30 and you’d have to conclude Stafford is doing their job pretty well on the noise issue.

  8. Have to agree with Bob and dareal they both bring in good ideas. The only problem with dareal idea is that most short track racers have a day job making it hard to bring their car to be displayed unless it’s on a Saturday or Sunday. But it’s still a good idea to work with maybe if the track offered a little financial reimbursement for fuel and things like hero cards it would work. Inviting the community to race nights is a great idea back in the day Riverside offered it’s neighbors not only race tickets but tickets to the park as well I don’t think they ever had problems with the neighbors because of this offering up the facility for town events couldn’t hurt either.

  9. One area I’d like to see more involvement with is scouts. The boy and girl scouts are seeing a comeback and a track getting involved with these organizations could go a long way long term

  10. James Scott says:

    Good points Sean. I agree that a track or any large venue must be involved with the community. It is a must. Positive promotion is key. Wish that place on route 85 would be sold and promoted by competent people.

  11. Walter Maguire says:

    Your ideas are a joke. No track promoter has this level of intelligence and therefore no financial commitment. It’s easy to fix this mess but not with the current idiots in track ownership/promotion.

  12. darealgoodfella says:

    Walt, great minds think alike.

    “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Al Einstein

  13. Stafford does work with the community,it’s been used for town independence day activities, there are sports fields at the high school named after the Arutes for donating equipment to level fields not sure what more you expect police car used to be paid for by Arute and Bolles families and you can read the side of the ambulance next time your at the track to. See who the ambulance association thanks I think they do a pretty good job so Shawn take a look first before you include everyone

  14. Elect,
    I think one of the misconceptions people have of any of these columns is that Sean is saying these are issues that exist at every short track. He’s not doing that. The columns are about the entire spectrum of short track racing, not any particular track or state or region. There’s nowhere in what he wrote where he references how any particular individual track handles things. Anyone around Stafford Speedway understands that they set the bar when it comes to a track working with the surrounding community. I can assure you that Sean wasn’t referring to how Stafford does things, and he would likely tell you that other tracks should look at Stafford as a model for how to handle community relations.

  15. Thanks Shawn, your right the people in town do know but I think there is many from other areas that don’t , I also forgot the Christmas party that all you had to bring was a small food donation tor the town food bank , but I think to many people took advantage of the situation, lots of food and drink for to few a shopping bags both you guys keep up the good work , and no I’m not an Arute , I would just like to see them and track stick around . Stafford Tax Payer

  16. There may be misconceptions but it’s not widespread. Sean has made in clear numerous times he’s speaking generally and not of local tracks. But this is not Hooterville RaceArena in Podunk, USA. It’s Ct and people naturally want the conversation in the comments area to gravitate to the tracks we go to. Suggestions for improvement to some tracks somewhere that may need some things but not others is too arcane to grasp for me anyway.
    Elect actually provided informative points that added to conversation. I didn’t take them as a defense but more like making sure people know the good that exists in our own back yard. Not everyone knew that including me. Now if they saw Elect’s comment they do and may feel happy to patronize a track on top of the community issue.
    One of the problems with race reporting is that the racing community is so small. Someone that reports on anything that reflects negatively on a person or track gets remembered as a troublemaker or creating an issue where there is none. I’d like to see the suggestions directed specifically at local tracks but understand that is problematic. Hit a nerve and you get labeled. But in the mean time if the comments veer off the vague and theoretical to our tracks specifically that in my view is a good thing.
    This entire series while not dealing with local tracks has given us time to reflect on local tracks and make comparisons. Seems like when that happens Stafford overwhelmingly comes out ahead. As for the series it should also appear in a national publication if it has not already.

  17. Thanks Doug , we haven’t always agreed in the past, but all I was trying to do is point out that some tracks do interact with the community, and hopefully there’s more than just Stafford. Again keep up the good work

  18. Shot track asphalt racing is in a sad sad state these days all over the country short track arena’s are being repurpaced. During the cup coverage from Atlanta one driver said there aren’t any tracks left in Georgia unless you want to race on dirt. It is a volitile time in our nation and unless the racers and tracks band together we may witness the extinction of short track racing. As I’ve said before maybe establishing a committee to come up with ideas is what’s needed. Stafford although it has it’s flaws is a model of what short track racing should be. A weekly schedule, community involvement constant renovations ect… this is what racing needs more tracks like Stafford. Now we just need then to get car counts up in some divisions then they’re perfection. Maybe a committee of short track owners is the answer…who knows but something must be done soon.

  19. Oh, by the way THANK YOU Sean Foster for this series it is informative. Good luck in 2018 in whatever you do

  20. Race dude. says:

    My idea of the perfect race track is 1. Ample parking. 2. A safe family environment. 3. Low ticket and food prices 4. Fan interaction 5. Good competitive racing. 6. Driver safety The tracks that can meet those guidelines will thrive

  21. Couldn’t agree with Rob p more on Stafford. Said it perfectly. However I do find the prospects for increasing attendance significantly at races dubious no matter what is done. Things change. Demographics, population density, property value, technology, insurance, racing safely requirements, start up costs, entertainment choices etc, etc, etc. As a geezer I’m more in the mode of appreciating what we have now being in Stafford’s sphere of influence with fingers crossed for future generations.

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