I am short track snob.
I like to get to as many different tracks throughout the season as possible. Support all tracks not just one. Having a young growing family I get to 15-20 shows a year. In 2016, I would say that is a pretty good number given the schedule a family like our holds. I started to realize however that I have become a short track snob. Due to the fact that I may only see a track once a year, I tend to schedule only big shows. The Midwest Tour, IRA Sprints, Slinger Nationals, World of Outlaws, etc… Tracks have a better opportunity to put some money in the bank at those show without my attendance. The weekly show is dying. Madison, Jefferson, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin Dells, and even Slinger at times, the weekly show attendance is dead. These tracks are great examples as they all run bigger shows throughout the year, but they rely on their weekly shows to make it to next year. And I gotta be honest, it’s hasn’t looked good in 2016.
When I was a young kid I watched every race of every division with great attention and detail. That is how I became the kid to ask if you wanted to know anything about a driver. Today, I’d rather chat with my racing buddies or play on my stupid phone (most of the time I am interacting with the URFWI social media pages) until the main event. I don’t know why I lost interest. Maybe it’s car counts, maybe it’s my passion for ‘URFWI’ getting in the way, maybe tastes change as we get older. Super Late Model racing has be on the rise the past 5 years or so as the internet coverage of racing has improved as well as guys like Chase Elliot, Ross Kenseth and Daniel Hemric’s of the SLM world have skipped trying to get to the big show through ARCA and other top series, making their names in the premier SLM events instead. I feel like this is starting to have a negative effect on the weekly shows across the state and the country as attendance in 2016 seems to have vanished. I am part of the problem as well.
I don’t think the solution is to change how I schedule my racing season. Whenever I have a problem I don’t have a solution for all I have to do is look at the ‘URFWI’ mission statement and it starts to take shape. Long gone are the days of making 15 weekly shows at one track and specials all over the state. The biggest challenge of being a ‘URFWI’ member is living up to that second statement. Include everyone in order to grow the sport of auto racing at the local level while introducing new fans to the sport. So I had an idea.
Use quick one-liners.
My wife took #004 golfing Sunday night so I had a great idea. I had my 8 month old daughter and #003, so I thought, let’s make up a game that #003 and I can play in the backyard that keeps my daughter moving in her stroller (she always wants to move outside). We came up with our new game, “Soccer golf”. (Basically use a soccer ball and the goal is the hole setting up different paths like you would a golf hole) My neighbor came by after a few “holes” very interested in what we were doing and asked what we were playing. My response was “It’s a great new game called Soccer Golf!” It sounded like an infomercial. But it worked! My neighbor was convinced that these 2 old goals and 2 mini soccer goals was something I had actually purchased from a store.
Imagine if you are talking to your neighbor or a friend at work and they ask you how your weekend was. Do you spend 10 minutes going into every detail of the big race? Do you just tell them went to the races or not tell them anything racing at all? I’ll tell you when I tell most people I went to the races they have no idea what races I am talking about. But what if you were to say, “Went to a great short track race at INSERT TRACK NAME HERE and saw a guy offroad it at 100 MPH to win the race!” or “Was at INSERT TRACK NAME HERE and we got to walk on the track before the races!” or “Took the kids to INSERT TRACK NAME HERE and they got to ride their bikes on the track and then we went trick or treating in the pits and came home with a huge backpack full of freebies!” Like my neighbor, I bet that person you are talking to may ask a follow up or details on where and what time or how much. When I worked in sales the hardest part is getting someone to give you that “opening”. Once they do, if your a halfway decent salesmen, you get that sale. Let’s all become better salespeople! What will your one-liner be?
Rich Zimpel has been attending local race tracks for the past 30 years.