Well there are plenty of you that don’t like to hear this, and I am sure some will be upset by me saying it, the fact is that races being scheduled on the same weekend are unavoidable, and the are NOT bad for the sport of drag racing.
Yep, I said it, now let’s discuss this. I am sure you all think I have lost my mind and some of you may be right. We are going to look at this from a business point of view though and not from a racer or fan point of view. In case some of you have forgot by now, the industry that we love, well it is also a business for a lot of people in the United States and around the world for that matter.
As I reflect on the 2018 season, which has been an absolutely stellar season on so many different levels, I think about all the complaints from people that there are too many races. There are too many races on the same weekend. There are too many options for racers to choose from. All of these arguments are given by those that aren’t looking at the business of drag racing. While I may agree that there are too many races with certain specific heads up classes, the fact is that tracks need to keep the gates open and people flowing through them.
If you, as a business owner, decided that you were going to keep your doors closed because your competitor was running a sale, you certainly wouldn’t be in business for very long. The same can be said about drag strips. Drag strips are on property, and it is property that gets a tax bill each year. It is a property that employs people. It is a property that isn’t making money when the front gate is closed, and the track is silent.
Numerous times during the 2018 season, we as a media outlet had to make difficult decisions on what events to cover. This also meant that we had to look at the calendar and see three or four different races on the same weekend. Were we going to go to a Pro Mod race, a Radial race, a small tire race, or something completely different? Which one is close to home? Which one will our readers what to see coverage of? So not only is multiple races on the same weekend tough for racers and fans, it becomes tough on media outlets. We can’t be everywhere on every weekend.
So, if there is a race on the east coast, in the Midwest, and one in Texas or California all on the same weekend, is this an issue? The answer should be ABSOLUTELY NOT. If there is a radial race on the east coast, a no prep race in Texas, and a Pro Mod race in Illinois all on the same weekend, it is because that is how track owners pay the bills and continue to have the ability to keep the front gate opening. So why are there so many people complaining about there being too many races? The reason is that there are an abundance of tracks that are running the same classes on the same weekend across the country.
This is in fact an issue that I have seen for years though. Different areas of the country seem to have many different classes, but there seems to have been a trend in the last 10 years or so to have more universal classes that crossover. Classes like RvW, X275, Ultra, Pro Mod, Outlaw 10.5, and plenty of N/T shootouts. This means that more tracks are trying to attract what’s popular all over in an attempt to bring in more racers and fans. You certainly can’t blame the track, or individual promoters for doing that either.
Let’s take a moment to look at the math of owning a drag strip. A larger drag strip is looking at $30,000-$40,000 a year in property tax, and let’s say $2500 a month for electric at 8 months, that’s another $20,000. What about concessions? I would give a conservative estimate of $1000.00 a day (track cost). So, if the track is open for 96 days a year, that is another $96,000 in costs. You still haven’t added in any staff, track maintenance, track prep, accounting costs, and many more. What would you say if you had total costs of $400,000 a year a race track? Now take that $400,000 and divide that by the 96 days you are open. Means you have to make a minimum of $4166.67 every time you open the gate, and that is just to try and break even. And before you talk about tech cards, most of the time outside of T&T, the tech card money is going to the payout. Remember these are all very conservative numbers. I just spoke with a track owner recently that looked at doing all new Musco Lighting at his track. The quote for the property was close to one million dollars. And that does not include all your other costs throughout the entire season.
It really is simple math, and not all about promoters trying to make a buck. The math says that to be even remotely profitable, a track needs to be open as much as possible and hold as many events as possible. What you may fail to realize, is that a lot of large events you go to, the track, unless they are the one promoting the event as well, aren’t getting all the gate profits. The promoter is usually working with the track on a split of some sort when it comes to concessions and gate money.
Next time we all start to complain, with a few exceptions, about races being placed on top of each other, just sit back and remember that track ownership is a business with bills to pay and employees to pay. There is not a single weekend, 52 weeks a year, that you can’t find a race happening at a track somewhere in the U.S. I would encourage more and more people to spend that $20 on heading to your local track, even if it’s to watch T&T before you piss it away on another set of $200 sneakers made in a 3rd world country that is making someone else rich. Stop complaining and just pick your race and go. NMCA, NMRA, NHRA, MWPMS, PDRA, NEOPMA, Super Chevy, all have races worth attending in 2019. Add that to races put on by Donald Long, Tyler Crossnoe, Monty Mikho, Wade Rich, Justin Young, Zach Jones, Mikel Miranda, Danny Topel, Mike Hill, Jason Miller, Lance Stanford, Petey Smallblock, Mel Roth, Wes Buck, Keith Haney, and more makes 2019 a hell of a year in drag racing.
In closing, if you are going to continue to cry and moan about races being on top of each other, yet your ass never leaves your couch, do all of us a favor and shut up! No one wants to hear you crying about shit when you don’t bother to support anything but pizza bites, bon bons, and some free livefeed!