Turn 2 Blog: Promoting Done Right & Bloomquist Back in Contention

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*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.

The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American Crate All-Star Series.

The two of us had the opportunity to witness a couple of very well promoted and very well run shows this weekend. What were your overall impressions of the Kyle Larson Presents, FloRacing Late Model Challenge powered by Tezos at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee and the Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals/Valvoline Iron-Man Late Model Series co-sanctioned Lil Bill Corum Memorial at the Tazewell (TN) Speedway?

Richard: Those two events were examples of how successful Dirt Late Model racing can be in this area or anywhere for that matter when all the right factors come together. Of course, the race at Volunteer was aided by the fact that NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and William Byron were on the track. And more, there was a very strong contingent of dirt racing regulars such as Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell and Chris Madden were there and it was known well known ahead of time that they would be at each of the two venues.

Of course, the best way to get the big stars to show up is to have a great purse. Both the Volunteer and Tazewell races had that. But promoters can’t pay $20,000-to-win every weekend. When that isn’t the case, personal contact with the racers by phone, text, social media and otherwise can make the competitor feel wanted and welcome which goes a long way in any aspect of life.

Still, no matter the purse, the most can be made of any event. Not every race is going to play out in front of a packed grandstand but the promoter only needs enough people to come through the gates to pay the purse and other expenses as well as hopefully have enough left over for a little profit.

The weather also cooperated at both Bulls Gap and Tazewell which is always a huge factor.

But there’s more to good promoting and having a great atmosphere than simply having some big stars on the track and good weather. Simply making sure people know there is going to be a race may sound obvious but I have seen some races be so scarcely advertised that it almost seemed a secret that anything was happening.

Social media, radio ads, creating talk within the industry and numerous other means help to get people excited before the date of the event. And that word has to get out early enough so that people will plan to be there rather than making plans to do something else. It takes a lot of effort to get this right.

Lastly, the fact that these two races are included in the question is not meant to imply that there were not other well done racing events. Those just happened to be the two we attended this past weekend.

Michael: Both of those races show a track doesn’t need one of the national sanctioning bodies to have a great field of cars and a great turnout by the fans. It did help those two series were off this weekend. Still, there were only a handful of those drivers that raced in these races.

As fewer and fewer drivers opt to run one of the national series, I believe we will see more races like this. I’m not sure how many of these types of races Kyle Larson wants to lend his name to in order to promote the event. But we have already seen the FloRacing races have an impact on racing going back to last season. As their Castrol Night at the Races events begin to take place, it will be interesting if those races continue to be successful.

Both Lucas Oil and World of Outlaws have to be feeling a little bit of heat from these other promoted races. We have already seen Lucas Oil races have some significant boosts in purses for many of their major events. And just a few days ago, World of Outlaws announced a much-needed purse increase to the World Finals in Charlotte.

Over the past few weekends we have seen a reemergence of Scott Bloomquist as a contender for podium finishes and feature wins. Black Sunshine has been a force in the dirt racing world for years but since his motorcycle accident in 2019 he has been less of a factor. Can he win again and how important is it for him to be competitive for the sport of Dirt Late Model racing?

Richard: Scott Bloomquist is very much like Dale Earnhardt was in his day. Everybody has an opinion one way or the other and that’s a good thing for the sport. Whenever he shows up, people notice.

He has definitely been running well in his first few outings of 2022. And one thing that has to be encouraging for fans of Bloomquist is that he drove all 50 laps at Volunteer and and 75 laps at Tazewell without experiencing numbness in his legs. If that trend continues, I definitely think he can win again.

During one of his media availabilities at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bloomquist stated that he has a new car almost ready. If that car proves to be an improvement on what he has now, he could be tough to beat as the warmer weather and slicker tracks come into play.

So yes, I believe he can win again. And yes, it is good for the sport to have Scott Bloomquist being Scott Bloomquist in all ways.

Scott Bloomquist(0) and Kyle Larson(6) help draw crowds

Michael: I was a firm believer a year ago that Bloomquist would not win another significant race in his career. I really thought the accident took too much out of him to be a major player in the sport.

After talking to a few people, I know who are close to him and hearing that statement he made at Bristol a few weeks ago, I believe his injuries aren’t near the factor they once were. Just last year and the end of 2020, it was all he could do to complete a race.

I’ll be ready to say Bloomquist can start winning races again when I see that old Bloomquist come back – the guy that talks the big talk and backs it up. He seems a bit more humble now than I’ve seen him before. Not that it’s a bad thing. As you compared him with Earnhardt, The Intimidator went through a tough stretch and did not say much either. But when he was close to winning and actually winning, the talking came back. I suspect we’ll see that coming back soon with the biggest name in the sport.

As we have discussed on here before, there are more and more high paying races this season than ever before. It seems as if dirt racing has been stuck in a bit of a rut for several years in terms of the amounts being paid to win and throughout the field. Has the pay in this form of motorsports reached the level where it should be?

Richard: I believe we are about to see a real dividing line between those who race in national races and those who compete on a more regional levels. With more races paying more than $20,000-to-win, there is not much need or time for the bigger stars to race in $5,000-to-win affairs. And that could be seen as a good thing for the regional guys.

It seems as if Dirt Late Model events went for almost three decades with the standard amount for national touring shows and bigger unsanctioned races being $10,000 while the cost of racing skyrocketed. It became harder and harder to make ends meet under that pay structure for teams that were travelling hundreds of miles to race.

Chris Madden stated in Bristol after one of his $50,000 victories that “We should be racing for this kind of money all the time”, and on the national level, that is probably true. However, this may prove to be a challenging year for these big races to take place considering the shortage of important parts and pieces along with rising fuel prices and other inflation.

As is always the case, dirt racing barely makes financial sense from any direction. Hopefully all involved can continue to find ways to make it work.

Michael: The drivers are going to talk about the purses more because they get a percentage of what they win. The car owner can get sponsors to help offset costs. But the drivers are the ones using their talents to get wins or compete for wins. They are going to talk more about purses than the car owners. But the car owners don’t want to have to pluck more sponsors to pay the bills.

I have thought the last few years the $10,000-to-win national touring races were outdated for the times. I applaud Lucas Oil for slowly increasing their purses and getting more lucrative pay in the “crown jewel” races. Those races have been well attended by both fans and drivers.

I’m curious to see how these regional races play out this season if fuel prices continue to remain high and tire supplies remain tight. Tracks that have little-to-no entertainment competition are going to fair well in these races. Other tracks may struggle. The driver that manages to win a $5,000-to-win race is probably breaking even for the night. The others are coming up way short. I believe the regional series will have to follow suit and start increase their purses. Just like the $3,000-to-win Super Late Model race is basically extinct, the $5,000-to-win race may have to see the same fate.

The only downside to all of this is can the tracks make money. Higher purses mean higher ticket prices for fans. Will fans really pay $25 to see a $7,000 to win regional race?

I believe tracks need to do a better job of getting sponsors to pay for some of these races to keep ticket prices down. The last time I checked, it was $15+ to see a movie at the theater. As they say, the price of everything is going up. Can dirt racing sustain price increases for the fans or will they subscribe to the dozens of streaming services and stay home? It’s going to be an interesting late spring and summer.

Chris Madden adds $21,000 to his earnings in Corum Memorial at Tazewell

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