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Car count issues


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42 replies to this topic

#1
zerohunger

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I just heard from our friend Leo in Argentina that they expect 29 cars at their event this weekend. Reading the race reports this year is rather sad. Some clubs don't even number the positions any more, apparently hoping no one will count them. Very few "counts" get far onto the second hand in some places.

What can we do to reverse this trend? You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't care about midget racing and our sport isn't going to stay alive on 6 car pavement features and 12 car dirt features.

I won't rant about the good old days of 40 cars every Sunday at Angell Park in Sun Prairie. Please don't bring up 300 cars at the Chili Bowl. Neither reflect where midget racing is today. Purses reflect the fans in the stands and they won't turn out in sufficient numbers to matter for these car counts.

The answer has to be on the cost side and costs reflect the technical specifications and rules. That is why I'm posting here.

Chuck Schultz
Winfield, Illinois
IRS #11 Mongrel-VW
IRS #82 Buzzard-Focus
#3 Edmunds-VW vintage car

#2
Baue

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In my opinion; the first answer is jobs. The typical racer has for the most part been someone who earned a better than average wage in the manufacturing world or the small business owner who owned a manufacturing business, construction business or worked/owned a transportation business.

As those types of jobs/businesses have disappeared, so has that racer. That along with the home values going down and a loss of borrowing power has hurt the racer.

It does not matter how cheap we make the cars if the average wage isn't one that can support a house payment let alone tires and fuel.

Once we can address those problems then we can address racings problems.



#3
MHess

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Kinda my thoughts exactly Scott. I was just discussing last night that I didn't feel the cost of midget racing has skyrocketed compared tp the cost of living. Its just like you pointed out that the guys that use to race and come close to breaking even are not running anymore because they cannot afford to put that money into a race car anymore. Changing rules and so on and so forth could be done but I don't think you would see a drastic increase in car counts.

What do you think about running a harder RR tire like an SP 3 instead of the 2? Would that be helpful?

#4
Midget#9

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I don't think an sp3 would make that much of a difference. As I mentioned in other posts I think a 8" right rear wheel rule would really help. Any compound with a 10" max sidewall width on an 8" wheel. High horsepower cars would be forced to run a hard compound. They would destroy a soft 8" before the feature end. The older under powered cars could run a softer compound hooking them to the track better. This would WAY even out the horsepower advantage.


Jason

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#5
Baue

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I think that if we are going to mandate compounds, we might as well go with the hardest.(sp4) I think the new SP2 is a joke.

Honestly, we could go back to 8" wheels but I believe the teams that are winning today will win then. Maybe I am wrong.



#6
zerohunger

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This isn't about changing who wins. Kurt Mayhew beat everybody in the Illini Racing Series again last night because he was better. He didn't win because he had money for fresher tires or a fresher motor.

Chuck Schultz
Winfield, Illinois

#7
es74

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The cream always rises to the top

#8
plgray

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My thoughts concerning the steady decline in car count would also have to note the decline in spectator attendance as I think one is the product of the other. Further , my observations would primarily address pavement Midgets as I believe that over on the dirt side a somewhat healthier environment is found but certainly not sustainable in the long term. Pavement Midgets are in a depressed state in the very short term.

I agree that the often heard argument citing the Chili Bowl is not a legitimate barometer to gauge the overall health of the sport.

While many believe that uncontrolled costs have led to fewer competitors , a cheaper engine or narrower tire will not put people back in the stands.

I believe that somehow Midget Racing will have to completely reinvent itself to survive going into the next decade. And someone will have to step-up to be the leader in this effort. The premier sanctioning body in this regard would be the United States Auto Club and from such position should come the leadership to save our sport.
Will USAC step-up ? .... probably not , because the rule book would have to be completely rewritten , long established relationships with tire companies , engine manufacturers , chassis builders , etc. would be sacrificed or at least opened up to other suppliers.

As a first step , USAC should conduct a national series only , no regional divisions. The national series and schedule would be comprised of a collection of the most prestigious events throughout the nation and held at the best venues / facilities.

The former regional series ( USAC and others ) that has typically seen 15 to 20 races at a half dozen different tracks ( and including co-sanctions ) would become local racers , at local tracks hosting weekly events , and racing for a track championship.

The UMARA group , that primarily operates their schedule out of the Grundy County Speedway in Morris , Illinois is a great example and in evidence of one presenting a quality product at a better than average facility , professional event conduct , promotion , and cognizant of what their fan base expects and perceives as value for their entertainment dollar. This group would only grow and benefit from the elimination of the Indiana USAC regional series. The same could be achieved by tracks or localized groups throughout other parts of the country. Racers would realize costs savings , venues would be more profitable , as the local midget racer could once again vie for his local track championship. This would be a first step to bring renewed attention to the sport and starting at a local level , not regional.

This would be a great step as something that could be achieved before the tougher issues such as $30,000 engines and new tires every night are solved.

I believe that if USAC would ever back away from the local venue sanction and be content to grow only on the national stage , that midget racing could start the long climb back.


Your comments welcomed and appreciated ...

PAUL GRAY cool.gif " USAC's Oldest Rookie - 2007 "



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#9
alfaboy

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here in argentina we are in "low season" is a winter championship for only 6 row and diden t come every racers becose more of then use the winter months for cheking rebuild or update their cars
last sunday come to race 26 cars of 29 registerd for winter day races was pretty good
in the last races of this summer at saturday night we have 42 cars in the track and that was amazing because
the club dident made evrething good as you say zero
last season they take the luxury of sanctionig 12 driver who never miss a race whit the punishment of suspend they all the season!!!! only for they going to race in another circuit last year (winter 08)
whit this car the car count would be over 50, 55 in some race
that is the number of driver we espect for the next summer season
another thing important is that you guys in the us still recivin a few bucks $$$$$$ for going to race in the different associations that is greate help too much for a drivers how made a big effort to build a car and put they in the track biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
here in arg we dident see a only cent $$$$ since the day of my dad driving
we dident recive some money from the early 90 and that is to bad mad.gif
gretings from bs as

#10
Baue

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I don't know which car Kurt was using, but if it was one of his cars I would say he has the most experience of that group(especially at Angel Park) at I would have to say that he has the latest or very close to the latest equipment compared to many people in the club. I know Jason Dull also runs well along with others so I am not suggesting other guys don't run well also, but Kurt has very nice equipment and is a very experienced driver.

That said, I really believe that if the Wilke cars and the Loyet cars and others ran with the IRS, then they would run up front. I guess the rebuttle to that is that it doesn't matter as the playing field is percieved as more level.

The IRS has become a stronger group over the last few years and is very competitive, so I am not knocking it. I know that Kurt really likes the group and concept. I just feel if that format became the norm for all groups then the guys with the older cars and motors would be pushed out pretty quickly. Maybe I am way off base.

Paul, while I would agree that the pavement costs hinder the sport, the car counts at the National shows often contridict that. Usually car counts of 25 plus, although Toledo had 21.

Right now, Tony Barhorst is trying to run some races at the Speedrome without USAC sanction and while the first race had 20 plus(Some Focus and Kenyon cars as well) the next had around 12. Less than the car counts at the USAC regional races(On average) with many of the USAC guys not supporting it. I too always find it odd to see the USAC name on a "Regional" race but it does mean something to some people.

Over the last 35 years the sport has obviously changed quit abit. Once; there where many splinter midget groups all over the Midwest. Running both dirt and pavement. Often there where races with less than 20 cars but there were a ton of races. States like Wisconson, Ohio,Michigan,Indiana,Illinois,Mo.,Colorado,New York/New Jersey, Pa. and California were all pretty strong. Now; pretty much only Indiana,Illinois(Dirt)/Mo.,Pa.,New York/New Jersey and California are left.

None are exceptionally strong except for Pa.(ARDC) and Il./Mo.(Powri)

Nema is the the only Pavement non-USAC club that is hosting fairly strong fields. I know UMARA and the Michican series are trying.

Ohio is basically extinct, Indiana is nearly gone without the regional races,Colorado is barely hanging on, Wisconson is a shadow of itself and California is fighting with some up nights and some down nights.

To pinpoint the causes of this evoloution would be tough, but I think the combination of the evolvment of home entertainment, central air, the loss of manufacturing jobs in these areas, the fact that racing offers so many options that many one time fans are now racing something. We have also lost the art of promotion and promotors.

I don't know what the answer is to get cars back and I don't know how to get fans back. I do believe that it starts with a group of people who believes in the product they are selling. I think that proves out in the case of the ARDC and Powri as both areas were struggling before some management and group changes. I think Jack Calabrase also proved that to be true as he was very successful with a driver/team based focus.

All of this said, Sprint cars are the 800 pound monkey in the room and are the most desired car to view racing at many of the same venues midgets run. Once the midgets got away from the bull ring 1/5 mile fair tracks or the fair tracks in general, it has affected their popularity.



#11
Mitch G

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As a casual observer, I think you're in denial if you think the costs of midget racing have not hurt the division. The DOW was at it's highest closing ever on October 09, 2007, closing at 14,164. The economy was roaring, that was only 20 months ago. Now, go back and check postings, and results from that same time frame, and even a couple years before, with few exceptions, you will see the same problems with midget racing. The RMMRA has been suffering with single digit fields since the late 1990's, same with BCRA, and AMRA. And USAC west seldom had more than 15 cars unless they co-sanctioned with BCRA. Jim Naylor at Ventura told me no matter what he did he could not get a decent midget field with USAC, and could not sell tickets to midget shows. At one time he had plans to start his own midget deal, but he started the VRA sprints, and that really took off for him. In my opinion one thing that hurt midgets, was the arrival of guys like Jeff Gordon, I'm a Gordon fan, but he and Rollie Helmling took to midgets, like a NASCAR team, tire testing, product development deals, these guys could get engines, and chassis components before anyone else could, and they really bowled over the competition. Next thing you know high dollar owners, usually parents trying to emulate Gordon's rise to success, jumping into the midgets with no regard for the regional racer, and the club leaders did little to stop it. Then when the bloom was off the rose, these people all left for greener pastures, and seldom was there another sibling, or interested party to fill the void. All the while, the blue collar hard core midget owner had little choice but to try to keep up with the second by second rapid development of the midget. I'm one of those guys, me and my wife are doing pretty darn good here in Texas, I have a 9 year old son, he's never seen a midget race, but I've taken him to sprint cars from California, to Georgia. He's never seen a 6 car field, and if I'm going get back into the sport, it's going to be non-winged 305 sprints, I could easily afford to go that route and be competitive, midgets, no way too expensive.
As for track size, this is huge, midgets almost always put on the best show at any track they run on, but anything bigger than a 1/3 mile just takes too much car, especially with today's cars/engines. That killed us in Denver, from the late 80's till today we had most of our races on 1/2 miles and big 3/8's and it just ate us up.
When the RMMRA ran a few races in the early 1990's at Fort Morgan, CO (about 80 miles north and east of Denver) they actually had a mini revival, car counts went up even though teams had to tow a little further to race, even I and a partner put a car together and ran a couple of seasons. Why? .... Fort Morgan was a 1/4 mile dirt, but that didn't stop the ever spiraling cost of the cars and engines. All local clubs have to get away from USAC car specs, if you want to run USAC, fine go do it, but the idea that "IF we don't have USAC rules, we can't run with USAC guys when they are in town", this thinking is what ruins a lot of local owners. You guys who go to midgets every week, and maybe own cars, or know guys that own cars, obviously have more insight than me, a paying fan, but as an outsider I can't see where young, "New Blood", will get interested if they see 10 to 12 car fields, and are told it costs tens of thousands of dollars to be competitive. Carbon Fiber, titanium, telemetry, $30,000 engines, etc. etc. it's too expensive to run a midget, and when a guy gets burned out, it's hard to get him, or her, or their children interested in midget racing again.


#12
Baue

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Costs are high, but you can't blame Hemling and Gordon. The Caruthers,Howard Linne, the Lotshaws,Shannon Bros., etc etc all spent large amounts of money to win races and championships.

Face it; Midget racing is very margionalized rght now and not due to a handful of reasons, but many that may not even have anything to do with racing itself.



#13
larryo

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Man, an amazing amount of information here. It is a history lesson in itself.

But "Baue" brought up the only idea why I would go to a midget race.

"Once the midgets got away from the bull ring 1/5 mile fair tracks or the fair tracks in general, it has affected their popularity."

I would be tempted to go to Midget race on a track of 1/5 mile or less. Why?

It's fun!

Lots of Luv and God bless you all.

Larry "O" laugh.gif

#14
Mitch G

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I'm not "blaming" anyone for the state of the sport, it's what they left behind after they left the sport of midget racing. If they were not allowed to do the things they did to begin with, maybe it would not have spun out of control, just a thought. Part of it is simply technology, Caruthers couldn't buy much that most midget owners could not get themselves, Edmunds chassis, Halibrand wheels and quick change, Ford Spindles, or P&S depending on the era, Firestone tires, etc. A brand new Edmunds with a brand new SESCO was not that far ahead of a older Edmunds, of Kurtis (with torsion bar updates), and a good Chevy II or Offy. Sure they had an advantage, and more track time was huge. I remember the first time the "Caruthers brothers" came to Denver, our Denver guys had Edmunds SESCO's also, but buy September they(USAC) had raced 60 times and our guys maybe 15 or 20, but they could hardly run with our guys at our home track. Do you midget guys remember a few years ago when Chris Economaki wrote about his visit to the "Copper World" at PIR. Michael Lang (I think?) won over Kasey Kahne in the "9" car, Kahne was so mad he spun Lang out on the back chute after the checker. Anyway, Economaki wrote that he spoke with Lang's father about what it took to win that race, and the elder Lang said he had "about $85,000 in that midget". 85k to win a 7 or 10 grand to win race? Help me out if my facts are wrong, but this is how I remember these events. Not good for the sport of midget racing.

#15
Rick Young

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QUOTE(Baue @ Jul 7 2009, 06:49 AM) View Post


Paul, while I would agree that the pavement costs hinder the sport, the car counts at the National shows often contridict that. Usually car counts of 25 plus, although Toledo had 21.

California is fighting with some up nights and some down nights.

Once the midgets got away from the bull ring 1/5 mile fair tracks or the fair tracks in general, it has affected their popularity.


You think car counts at a "national" event of 21-25+ contradict that cost hinder the sport? That proves that cost have hindered the sport. You need to attend a "national" Dirt Late Model Race like the Dream or World 100 where 100-200 cars show up for a 2 day show (these races occur on a regular basis).

I think the secret of success for all open wheel racing (sprint cars included) is running the small fair tracks on a regular basis (weekly or twice monthly). In California there is not one track that runs midgets as a local class. The closest would be Ventura which regularly runs Focus Midgets and Jr Focus. Until we get tracks to run us as a weekly class the public will not grow up identifying with midgets.

It is going to take a generation of weekly shows (maybe more) to being to bring midgets back to their glory. The problem is that will not occur running todays rules/costs.

Remember the 410 almost ruined sprint car racing, car counts were declining tracks were no longer running them as a weekly show. Then the 360 stepped in and saved sprint car racing. Midgets need their 360 equivalent to save the sport and get us racing at the local speedways as a local class. Good news the ASCS is once again about ready to put that product on the table with the RRE/EcoTec engine that will be the midget equivalent of a 360 sprint car.

The idea is to control engine cost (save concept as the initial 360), provide local racing opportunities and get the fans (more importantly their children) to fall in love with midgets and dream about racing them some day. Using today's technology (EFI) affordable midget racing is achievable. Affordable midget racing will allow local promoters to run the class, but it is going to take some very dedicated midget owners to step to the plate and work to build this class of midgets. From experience I can tell you that it is hard work and there are many detractors in trying to do what I have stated above. But I can also tell you that the local promoters are craving this product and will support the effort to build this class.

Just like when the 360 was introduced, there will be plenty of opposition from the "old guard" that do not want change. I remember all the things that were said about the 360, and funny enough I have heard all those same comments about the new RRE/EcoTec. The Focus program proved it was possible to build that type of class, although that program did/does not have the performance midget owners/drivers were looking for. I believe the EcoTec that is being developed by Keith Iaia is the solution that will allow us to grow the class locally and with the partnership of the ASCS we will be able to re-introduce midget racing across the country.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results. From my view point the current situation of midget racing is synonymous with insanity.

The real question is who is going to have the courage and drive to do something different in an effort to get better results.

Rick
www.capitalcitymidgets.com




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