Recently, a certain NASCAR driver sparked some amount of controversy when she stated that signing autographs was not part of her job. While I disagree with that portion of her argument, there is surely a balance to be found somewhere. I think fan interaction, including autographs, is part of the job for every driver. However, this does not mean they have to sign every autograph. There are times and places for that. Also, someone that wants an autograph is one thing , while the person with an armload of die casts is another.
That made me think about how this relates to my own experiences in the short track world. The Midwest Tour and several special races do a good job in terms of fan interaction. There are several chances to get an autograph, take a picture, share a few words, and shake hands through autograph sessions set up by promoters and venues. Didn't get a chance to talk to that one driver you wanted? Head down to the pits after the race and, if they aren't actively engaged with their car or team, it's more than likely you'll get to interact. Times and places. The time drivers take to talk to fans can change peoples' perceptions and leave them with a deeper understanding of what happened in a race that they never could have seen from the stands. In my opinion, participation like this absolutely drives a portion of attendance. Speaking of attendance,
Dan Deicher did an interview with Bubba Pollard at the Joe Shear Classic at Madison earlier this season. Bubba's appearance at the race was a bit of a surprise to most. He talked about the impressive crowd, and noted how he doesn't see that much anymore in the south. I'm not sure how things are run down there from a fan perspective, but I can tell you the crowds for the big multi-day races shown online this winter were not good. Sure, every track and series has their own way of doing things with varying results, but seeing that this winter made me reflect on what a good thing we have. It would be a shame to lose that because "it's not my job".