The NASCAR season has been in full swing for two months. Baseball is a week into its season. Hockey playoffs start tonight. The trees are budding and turning green. Daffodils, crocuses and tulips are in bloom. All indications are that spring is in the air. However, the truest indication that spring has sprung is the roar of engines coming from short tracks around the country. Season-opening races have taken place from coast to coast, and the dreams of racers are just like the dreams of baseball fans everywhere: This is going to be the year that we get it all together and win a championship, or win a race, or get that big break to move up to the next level.
The recession/depression/economic downturn/tear in the space-time continuum is putting a strain on everyone these days, and for race fans it’s no exception. With tickets to Cup races now further out of the reach of fans than they have been for some time, many fans have to stay closer to home to get their racing fix. This is hopefully going to be a boon for short-track promoters… assuming they can play their cards right.
Fans aren’t the only people in racing that are being hit by the tough economy. The guys that are pouring their guts into their racecars now have to work extra hard to make ends meet. Sponsorship isn’t only hard for Cup teams to secure these days: local racers are now searching high and low to try and get someone to help them pay their tire bill. Fixing a wrecked racecar is an expensive proposition whether someone is on the hood or not. If track promoters are smart, they’ll do their best to help the local guys make ends meet.
The biggest expenses at the racetrack for drivers at local short tracks are tires and fuel. The track promoters make money buying their tires from Hoosier or Goodyear and selling them to the race teams, along with buying Sunoco race fuel and charging the racers for it. There is no doubt that car counts will begin to dwindle as the season goes on if the economy doesn’t get better, or the promoters don’t start to help them out. The best thing that the track operators can do is cut their prices on the staples of racing to help the competitors make ends meet. If the car counts stay up, the racing will be better, the fans will continue to fill the stands, and in the end, everyone will come out ahead.
Hopefully the guys running the little bullrings throughout the country will see the big picture and do their best to keep the racers showing up. Do that, and the fans will see a good show and get their money’s worth. And in the long run, that will make all race fans and promoters better off.