Blog: Promoters can be their own worst enemy

As the 2014 season is rapidly approaching, promoters are making plans for what they hope to be a busy racing season. Promoters hope they make the best decisions to create a profitable situation for their facility.

Success and failures can be seen all across this area as well as across the country. While there is no set formula for a successful racetrack, there are a number of common mistakes made by many promoters that can spell doom for their tenure. Promoters can be their own worst enemy.

The purpose of this blog is not to single out anyone, but to show some of the common pitfalls made by today’s promoters in the world of dirt track racing.

Length of programs: One of the biggest complaints among both hardcore and casual race fans is the length of a track’s program. Gone are the days when fans were willing to endure long programs. People today are too wired in to their electronics and fast-paced lives to be expected to sit through a long race program that seems to have no end in sight. NASCAR and college and pro sports are also seeing an affect on their respective sports from the same issues.

In today’s world, a race program should be no longer than four hours from the start of hot laps to the waving of the final checkered flag. This goes for weekly shows and special events. Bad accidents and unexpected delays cannot be accounted for and most fans are willing to give a pass when these situations arise. A number of our area tracks have a curfew and are forced to keep their programs running within a certain time frame. Those that do not have a curfew should consider running their programs as though they do have a curfew.

It is even more critical to keep these programs as condensed as possible if there is any hope of drawing fans with children who hope to become a future race fan. Having young children myself, I know how hard it is to hold the attention for a child for a two-hour movie. Take a look at the grandstands at the next race. See how many children under 10 are in the stands. Come back two hours later and see how many of them, and their parents, are still there. The come back in three hours.

Promote the track: The word promoter means to promote. While many promoters do a good job of promoting their track and their events, some miss the mark. Putting information on the track’s web site and a few message boards is not promoting an event. Those things do help some, but it is mainly reaching a group of hardcore fans that probably already know about the event.

Signage, advertising, holding an event at a sponsor location, and old-fashioned legwork seem to be reliable solutions. If the event is large enough, hold a press gathering by inviting the local media and have some of the drivers from the area on hand for interviews.

On my trip to Ponderosa Speedway in October, I saw a man and woman handing out flyers as I was trying to find a place to park. The man was none other than Carl Short, promoter of the Dirt Track World Championship and other races. He was handing out flyers for the DTWC several hours away in Kentucky. The DTWC is a nationally known event. It almost promotes itself the event is so huge. Yet, there he was still trying to drum up more interest for the race. Now that’s promoting.

Get children involved: As mentioned earlier, getting children to the racetrack and keeping them there is a big effort. One way to get children interested in coming to the racetrack is to hold pre-race activities for the kids whether it be a fun zone, face painting, or any other activities commonly seen at other events that draw a lot of children.

Installing a designated play area with some playground equipment in a spot with a view of the track is a good way to appease the restless children and allow those parents to stay at the track a little longer.

Holding activities specifically for children during the intermission has always been a big hit. Whether it is a coin or candy toss, foot races, bicycle races, or something else, children are thrilled when something is held just for them.

The previous suggestions are not guaranteed to running a successful racetrack. Many other factors are also involved such as fairness toward the drivers, not running too many classes, and having a good announcer. But the suggestions combined with hard work and treating people fairly are keys to getting people to come through the gates.

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