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Car count issues


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#31
Baue

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If you go back and check; USAC had RJR as a sponsor before or during the beginning of their involvement with NASCAR.

I may be off base here, but I believe that one of the sticking points was the involvement of Viceroy with Parnelli Jones team.

No question about it; RJR made NASCAR. Between the sponsorships, marketing and beautification programs at all of the tracks they raced that needed it.

CART was at it's best when they had PPG. The IRL; I believe, has struggled some due to their lack of a true series sponsor.



#32
evile

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ARDC has had strong car counts the past few season. This season we've had an average between 26 to 30 cars. We've been pretty fortunate to have a pretty large pool of micro sprint racers from which to draw. Every year we lose a team or two, but gain two to three.

However, several years ago that wasn't the case. In fact, the club appeared to be on its last leg. Most of the fields we made up of multi-car teams (Miller, Mega etc.). The small fields discouraged some tracks to schedule ARDC, and the racing wasn't very close with the wings.

There are several factors that helped ressurect interest in the club. First, they began running non-wing. The club offers the only non-wing openwheel racing on the East Coast. Also, Mike Miller and the club conducted open tests for drivers interested in driving a midget. This was a very risky proposition, but it opened the eyes of many drivers looking for something different. In fact, I believe Andy Martin participated in that first test.

Also, the club revamped the schedule booking races primarily in the Central and Eastern PA area. We still go to New York and North Carolina, but they narrowed down the travel quite a bit. We even had a "home track" for a couple seasons. Honestly, I would be happy if we just raced at Lincoln, Grandview, Big Diamond and Trail-way every week.

Finally, the engine rules have helped. The club has not allowed some of the newer engines. The new Esslingers and Fontanas are illegal. Overhead cam engines are limited to 155ci. Even the Fontana Rhino engine which won the title last season was voted out over the winter.

Most teams are still running Gaerte Chevys and Fords . Even Steve Buckwalter throws in his Gaerte Chevy for the local shows. There are a couple Hawks, Fontanas and Frank Polimeda's Mopar. Heck! The Schell Pontiac is still competitive.

It just doesn't make sense to buy a high dollar engine back here. You can make a lot more money and race more often racing a sprint car (410, 358 and 360), modified (Big Block and Small Block) or Late Model. There's nothing keeping someone from buying a brand new Toyota, but I believe it would need to be approved first.



#33
larryo

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laugh.gif Well, I can't resist. I will make a fool of myself one more time....lol!

1) USAC rules in the West. Many tracks and organizations bought into it. And in the near term they will have to live with it.

2) When the new organization forms and motor, USAC will change with the times.

a) I feel greed and politics get in the way of everything.

cool.gif If you want to make money and grow the sport in the west, work with USAC to make it better.

1) I bet you will loose, but in the end you will get what you want, more Hp and speed with
a new midget series.


3) But I will bet in the long run, USAC will rule with this new engine and speed, because everybody
wants USAC for it's name and USAC will use this trademark in ruling the series. It has worked in the
past and I see this same philosophy ruling in the future, at least in the west.


Sincerely,

Larry Otani...good luck and god bless!

#34
Rick Young

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QUOTE(larryo @ Jul 17 2009, 02:43 AM) View Post

laugh.gif Well, I can't resist. I will make a fool of myself one more time....lol!

1) USAC rules in the West. Many tracks and organizations bought into it. And in the near term they will have to live with it.

2) When the new organization forms and motor, USAC will change with the times.

a) I feel greed and politics get in the way of everything.

cool.gif If you want to make money and grow the sport in the west, work with USAC to make it better.

1) I bet you will loose, but in the end you will get what you want, more Hp and speed with
a new midget series.


3) But I will bet in the long run, USAC will rule with this new engine and speed, because everybody
wants USAC for it's name and USAC will use this trademark in ruling the series. It has worked in the
past and I see this same philosophy ruling in the future, at least in the west.


Sincerely,

Larry Otani...good luck and god bless!


Larry,

I hope you are well..... you by no means made a fool of yourself, but I thought I would add a few thoughts to yours...

1. I am not sure USAC rules in the West, maybe in the Southwest part of California that is true, but you can hardly say they rule the west. Where are they racing north of Bakersfield? A couple of joint shows with the BCRA and two focus races in Watsonville? No races in Oregon and none in Washington... Let's be honest they rule Ventura, not the west. Now that Manzy is gone do they have any races in Arizona?

2. Not sure anyone is proposing more HP in a new series, actually I think most are saying just the opposite.
a) I am not sure greed is a problem as there is no money in this to begin with, but the politics are more than even I anticipated.

3. Once again I am not sure that the USAC brand is what it used to be. If you are racing in the mid-west then I would agree, but that strangle-hold seems to be dwindling. What they have a national circuit, personally I think that is what they need to stick with and get out of the regional business. Become the WoO of midgets. You do not see the WoO trying to sanction regional races, they are a premier series. USAC needs to decide what it wants to be, I am not sure you can do both successfully in this day and age.

From where I sit, USAC's prestige goes down a little each year. The Silver Crown championship used to be huge, not sure anyone pays much attention to it anymore. As for Sprint Cars, they are not even in the top 2, WoO and ASCS carry that distinction. So what is left, Midgets. But (IMHO) if they do not focus (no pun intended) on making themselves a premier national series, they are leaving the door open (ASCS). When a new sanction comes through that door and can deliver a competing national series, I personally think USAC will be in trouble. Let's face it they do not even "sanction" the largest midget race in the country (nor do they sanction the largest sprint car races in the country).

Have a good weekend, we are at Placerville.

Rick

#35
larryo

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Dear Rick,

1) I was thinking about your response. I was really talking about the sprint cars. Northern, CA. They have Golden State for the 410's, wing cars. In Southern, Ca they have USAC/CRA for the 410's non-wings.

2) You are right about BCRA in the north for the midgets. Again I was only thinking about Southern, Ca for the USAC Western States Midgets. Both leading to USAC National Series is you choose to run those races or go for a National Championship. Seems like those guys, USAC National Midgets do get credit and exposure and some move onto Nascar, ASA, Craftsman Truck and Nationwide.

3) What I was talking about or thinking about is the new Engine that Keith and Chillibow Promoter was trying to push or get goin'. I was considering that more hp and the following series for the USAC Ford Focus Midgets. You can also think of it as a lesser series, smaller motor for BCRA or USAC Western States. Either way I was pointing my discussion to that new Engine.

4) You guys will probably get what you want, but either your series in the north or USAC FF Midgets in the south is a great series for anybody who has not raced or one trying to establish some kind of record/
baseline for thier racing carreer.

You just get to go to a lot of tracks and get experience which you don't get sticking to one home track. Other routes are just as good...ie...mini-sprints and the like.

5) Probably the best idea was given by flash. Try to perfect the motor and test it before you bring it to market. Flash seems interested and I know why. As you run your kid though micros or FF Midgets it's only logical to up the bar. Get the kid into a faster car. The new engine results in a faster car. Great place for any kid running the FF Midget to step up too and for the guys that can't afford conventional midget. It's a great idea to get those guys the racing in which they can afford and have fun...lol!

6) I will never forget one comment by Robbie Flock. Get these FF Midgets up to about 280 Hp and I would race one...ie...he would be tempted. Jim Naylor always talked about running his own series and he felt he needed about 280 Hp. He decided instead of developing his own motor...ie..the Mazda, which he new their were about 500 long blocks for about 500 bucks apiece at the time. He chose in the end to go with the FF Midget and USAC. SCRA chose to go with USAC/CRA 410 and hence my comment the guys in the west bought into USAC and now are living with it .....good or bad and their are both.

Sincerely,

Larry Otani

#36
Rick Young

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QUOTE(larryo @ Jul 21 2009, 04:31 PM) View Post



3) What I was talking about or thinking about is the new Engine that Keith and Chillibow Promoter was trying to push or get goin'. I was considering that more hp and the following series for the USAC Ford Focus Midgets. You can also think of it as a lesser series, smaller motor for BCRA or USAC Western States. Either way I was pointing my discussion to that new Engine.


5) Probably the best idea was given by flash. Try to perfect the motor and test it before you bring it to market.

6) I will never forget one comment by Robbie Flock. Get these FF Midgets up to about 280 Hp and I would race one...ie...he would be tempted.




Thanks for the clarification.... I know for folks in SoCal the state ends at Bakersfield... smile.gif Just kidding.

As for the engine, I promise when it finally gets delivered it will put smiles on faces. How do I know, well I drove it this weekend. The big difference between this engine and a Focus is the torque. You have to keep the Focus powered car very free so that you do not load the engine. This engine could be driven like a midget... throw it in.... stomp on the gas and let it blow through the heavy stuff and drive off throwing a rooster tail of clay. It was cool.

As you pointed out the best part about the engine is the ability to control it based on the ECU. From 125 hp to 270+.

As for Flash's comment, that is exactly what we are doing. Three races in the books, tons of knowledge gained and Keith is headed back to the dyno this week to get some things sorted out. Hopefully by the time we race on August 8th we can have 3 of them running. Honestly the thing has run virtually flawlessly, all he is working out is the mapping for so that the engine can compete with the Focus motors (i.e. slowing it down). GM is working on the map to speed it up.

Tell Robby his engine is on the way, he might want to get a roller put together.

Best wishes and I know we will meet someday.

Rick

#37
Bluedresser

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This is a very interesting thread and I'd like to add my two-cents worth.

Let's begin with costs and returns.

When I got into midget racing with the ARDC in the late 50's, early 60's, I bought and old V8-60, rail-frame "school car" for $700.00 - Harry Hespell had a four-car, KK Offy stable and confided in me that the cars cost $15,000 each - brand new. I bought the V8-60 as a "starter", as that's all I could afford.

Still and all, the purses we ran for were $2500.00 against 40% of the gate --- and the gate was usually higher.

Back then, a new Fleetwood Caddy cost about $6300 and gasoline was $.25 a gallon. A motel room, when we could afford one, was $5.00.

Now, everything costs a lot more. The Caddy is $60,000 or so (haven't priced one in a long while) and gas is $2.50+ while hotel rooms are $50 and up PLUS TAXES, and you all know the costs for a new midget and engine. While all other costs have gone up 200% and more, the purses aren't any better - and many cases are less - than they were back then.

I know that cost-wise I am at a disadvantage, as I have very long tows to most of my races which means that I drive on Friday, race on Saturday and drive home on Sunday. That means two nights in hotels and six to nine meals on the road. I was averaging 30,000 a year of towing costs.

The track operators (real promoters are few and far between) have their problems putting butts in the seats, for whatever reason, so they make up for it at the back gate, adding more and more series and cutting the laps for each class in order to make curfew. It wasn't many years back that we ran practice and time trials at most tracks, but the dirt tracks (beginning with Ventura) cut the laps back and stopped the time trials for first the Focus midgets, and the next year for all of the midgets. Then they cut the purse (at least for the Focus cars) by 30%. This year it looks as though all of the other dirt tracks in California have followed Ventura's lead and cut their purses as well.

Now look, none of us are in this to make money these days. My cost to race the past few years ends up at $1200 per show. If I were to win all of the races (when the dirt tracks were still paying $500 to win) I'd still be out $700 per weekend, times 30+ races a year. But I feel insulted when the track operators cut my laps and then to add insult to injury cut the purses. So, this past week I have made a very painful decision. I have run my last USAC FF dirt track race for the foreseeable future. Instead, I'll either stay at home, run with Rick Young to help his car count, or run my friend's dwarf car. That will keep my "out of pocket" expenses down to a more manageable level. I don't know how many other owner/drivers are doing the same thing, but I'm sure I'm not alone.

I really want to thank Kieth and Rick for doing so much to help keep the sport at a manageable fun level, and wish them the best. The sport needs more like them.

#38
Rick Young

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QUOTE(Bluedresser @ Jul 23 2009, 11:35 AM) View Post

run with Rick Young to help his car count, or run my friend's dwarf car.

I really want to thank Kieth and Rick for doing so much to help keep the sport at a manageable fun level, and wish them the best. The sport needs more like them.


Please please please come race with us. You are inspirational for all of us. I have told Meg (my wonderful wife) that you have set a benchmark for me when it comes to racing and I plan to still be going when I am your age.

As for the thanks, they should really go to our respective wives. Mata and Meg support Keith and I when most others would try to talk us out of this lunacy. In fact, I should blame Meg for all of this, she pushes me when I feel like giving up. While she will never pick up a wrench, call a promoter, etc. She supports what we are trying to do and when we pushed off with 12 cars last weekend it brought a tear to her eye as she sees we are making progress each and every week.

See you soon JR, I will save a pit spot next to me for you. And you are always welcome to stay at our place when you come this way. We have a nice cozy room waiting for you.


#39
racer222b

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This discussion topic is car count issues. What about fan count issues? Is that not why people race? The entertainment value is what I think needs to be addressed. There are many race fans out there but how do we get them to midget races? We need to look at what is right with BMARA. The fans are always there and the ticket revenues allow them to keep going. Midget racing cannot survive by just having cars there and no fans to watch. There are plenty of people with cars in their garages and are not racing right now.

#40
Bluedresser

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Thanks Rick - will see you on the 8th at Placerville.

Regarding the fans not showing up. In my very humble opinion, there is enough blame to go around for all. We have discussed the car costs to death, as well as ways to cut the costs down - but you're right - how do we get the fans?

Unlike the "good old days" where there wasn't much in town except a skating rink, a drive-in theater, and a black and white TV with one or two snowy channels, these days the fans have more entertainment opportunities than you can shake a stick out. DVDs, ATVs, 100+ channel TVs, and on and on and on. So, how do you get the fans to give that up and part with some money to go to the races?

Let's start very simply and accept the fact that we are nothing more than the gladiators in the Roman Collesium. We are entertainment - no more, no less. We are the Wrestlers on four wheels and we have to accept that fact --- and capitilize on it.

Unfortunately, the laws are fighting against us with noise levels and curfews.

But. what can we (the track operators) do to overcome it?

Well, one thing is to reverse what's been going on for the past bunch of years. CUT DOWN THE NUMBER OF CLASSES RUNNING EACH NIGHT. Start thinking of making money out of the front gate instead of the rear. Give the spectators a good, three-hour show at a reasonable price, and INVOLVE them in the show.

Let's start with promotion. Most sports announcers don't consider auto racing a sport. Why not? All through their school years they tried out for football, baseball, etc. -- and most of them couldn't cut it. So, they end up announcing it. From the time they were old enough they had their driver's licenses and don't see much difference between driving on the track and driving on the road. SO- start by finding a TV sportscaster who can fit in a car. Get a two-seater sprint car like Jimmy Sills has, and take him for a ride. Do the same in a stock car (paying a driver to add a second seat). Then set a car up really loose, and let him spin it out in the first turn. All of a sudden he will realize that driving on a track is harder than it looks.

Then involve him in promoting for you (even if you have to pay to advertise). Bring in a good-looking female driver along with a male driver and interview them - like the wrestlers do. Get the "good hat, bad hat" deal going. He tells her that he's not going to give her any quarter just because she's a girl. She tells him that the next time he gets close to her she's going through the wall. Do this on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Watch the fans show up on Saturday.

Get back to other things that will get the blood flowing, like March music before the races instead of C/W. Take a few minutes for lucky number programs. Interview a few drivers during the evening. Make the ticket prices reasonable.

These are only a few ideas and there are many more, but it can be done. Look at what Irwindale and Salt Lake City does, to name a few.

JMHO


#41
zerohunger

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Sun Prairie is a very interesting and unique situation. As I mentioned when I started this thread, Angell Park's days of 40 plus cars signing in every Sunday are behind it. Similarly, the 300 plus cars at the Chili Bowl are out-of-the-ordinary.

Sun Prairie has many things going for it: Tradition going back to the early days of the sport, a beautiful facility located close to two large metro areas, and a program uncluttered by support classes until the very recent decline in car counts. Most importantly, the place has a constancy of purpose by the very passionate and professional event organizers. These are conditions you can't duplicate many places.

Our Sportsman midget club has been honored to compete at Angell Park the past two years. It isn't easy for a bunch of blue collar guys to tow 170 miles each way on a Sunday and still get to work on Monday morning. We do it because we love the challenge of competing at Midget Racing's Yankee Stadium before some of the sport's most loyal and knowledgeable fans. We'd love to race there more if our families and bosses would put up with half days on Monday.

Building a fan base is, in my humble opinion, a long term project once we get the car counts up. Cars bring people to the tracks back and front gates. I was shocked to hear people my own age [mid 50's] comment at a recent car show appearance that they had never heard of "midget racing." Is it time to re-brand ourselves "speed cars" like our Down Under friends?

Chuck Schultz
IRS #11 Mongrel-VW
IRS #82 Buzzard-Focus

#42
Mitch G

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Here's my two cents. I'm 49, been going to midgets since my folks took me to Lakeside Speedway in Denver, CO to watch the RMMRA midgets, when I was 6 weeks old, I don't remember that race. Also, for all those younger folks who are not interested in the past, I know we can't go back in time, I'm not advocating running Kurtis Kraft's, and vintage type cars. That being said, I just read in the News and results section on this site, that Coon's Jr. won last nights race, uncontested from the front row, I read that a lot, that has to stop. Some sort of handicapping, or inverting must be done, you gotta' get the fast guys starting farther back. The argument that quick time, or heat winner "earned front row status" doesn't wash with the paying fan, and that is the most important person in midget racing right now, the paying fan. As a kid I couldn't understand why no one was in the stands watching the midgets, it amazed me how the modifieds, and late models had full stands every week. My dad said it was because the midgets burned fans out in the 1940's, running 6 nights a week, o.k. but this is the 1960's, 70's, 80's why are they not coming back? I thought. In conversations with Jim Naylor at Ventura, Jack Calabrase (when he owned NAMARS), and Ken Kazarian (Perris Auto Speedway), Gene Adamic (Heart O' Texas Speedway, Waco, TX site of 3 straight years of the SWIMS tour in the mid 80's). All these guys told me it's just hard to get people in the stands for a midget race, sprint cars, easy money, late models, no problem, midgets....just can't sell tickets. Maybe Chuck is right, the name may be a draw back, I'm still amazed people go to World of Outlaw sprint shows, always won from the front row, little to no passing, heck the winged cars don't even "back em' in", it's boring to me. But look at the success, it's the big V8's, noise, carnival atmosphere, I guess. Sprint cars always draw, and I think it's because they are thought of as more a "real race car" because the big wheels, tires, and V8's. As for the cars (midgets), they have no identity, I know the new drivers don't want to get hit by mud clods, and they want room for sponsors names, but if the cars could shed the body work around the driver, and the fans could see the driver really "working", it would make the show more of a spectacle. All the years I drove we just tucked cardboard into our drivers suit, a few bruises, but no big deal. I can tell you this, my kids had a hard time believing me that a person was actually driving the cars when they went to their first race, all they could see was maybe the top of a helmet, and on the back chute you could see a little of the driver, not that far removed from full bodied cars, sorry. The show has to be a spectacle, people gotta' leave saying "Wow", sprint cars (non-winged) back em in lots harder, and the thump of a V8 is obvious. Midgets don't offer anything different, just "little sprint cars", lots of body work, little wheels, little engines, even if they put on a better show on the track, seems the paying fan want's something else. Ask any promoter, if they put up a stand alone show, same purse, same amount of advertising, etc., except for Angel Park, the sprint car show will sell more than the midget show. Again, we don't need to "turn back the clock", but make the driver the focus, he or she, is the hero behind the wheel. As for getting youngsters involved, it simply has to be more affordable. Sprint cars started covering up the driver's before the midgets did, the cars looked similar, but the driver was not as visible (starting in the mid 70's in the sprints), and the cars were different looking as the VW, ChevyII, etc. looked different than a V8. Today they are nearly identical except for the midget has exhaust headers on only one side, and little wheels. Why go see half a sprint car? Somehow the midgets need to get that "Wow" factor back, it needs to be partly a visual thing, they need their own identity again. Sorry for the long post.

#43
Baue

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Midget racing normally thrived in areas where it was hard to see a "big car" type race.(Sprints or Champ Cars) The bull rings and th fair circuit. Those types of things are or have gone away.

Without going into a long post, I just think that if you like midget racing and you are a fan or a competitor; then support it and go to the races. If you don't support it, then it will go away. Pretty simple deal.

To listen to some people talk, It's almost like watching a ship sink and there are people standing on the bank with boats and life vests watching it sink and they keep wanting someone to go out there and save the people on it. If you have a car, race it(If you can). If you want to go see a race, then do it.

If you want to change it, then do your own thing, but by dividing the sport it leaves it very vulnerable. I think the sport thrives today in the areas where there are passionate people in charge of it, with the exception of Badger. That situation is confounding to me from the outside, but I haven't looked into it or talked to people to see what the deal is or the concerns are. Honestly, sometimes even the best things come to end. Mostly from apathy and infighting.




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