( NOTE: I still owe an installment on my thoughts of going from the bleachers to inside a car. This post got some attention, so I figured I would blog it. )
It is a shame that these discussions even happen. The long game is that without support, we lose tracks.
However, lets be honest: The people who need to support these tracks are short term thinking adrenaline junkies. Very few people who own and or drive the Sportsman/Mods have the luxury of thinking one or two years out. Guys like me honestly don't plan more than a week in advance once the season starts. If I blow an engine, or break a rear diff..that is probably the end of my season ( and possibly my entire racing program )
For guys like me, the payout is not a big deal. I left the $50 Jake gave me for showing up at the track most weeks. It meant I had money to get in and buy some gas the next week. I don't think $50 for last covers my expenses, and I don't think that $400 for first covers the expenses of the guys who compete at that level.
I think racers will run where they want, with very little care about purses. I can only speak from my experience, but if you care to read.. carry on.
My first laps were at Glen Ridge. I drove an old Olsen ( at least we think it was an Olsen….) that had a spud for one of he front radius rods ripped out. We didn't know any better, we left it like that. The front end did not bind….
The car had a junkyard 305 in it. As in, it was pulled out of a running car, and we never did anything but swap the intake and adjust the valves. Jake never made me feel stupid for asking stupid questions. I stayed running the Ridge because I was comfortable there. Thee guys who were lapping me before the green was done waving were good to me, they offered advice, and, after looking at the car, condolences.
Once I had some experience, and a newer car, I tried running Fonda. Fonda was so different that I began to run it more often.
As last year progressed at the Ridge, my car was more and more beat up every weekend. GR is a short track. People bump on short tracks.. it is a simple matter of density. Lots of cars moving fast in a small area equals some bumping. No one ever hit me in anger ( frustration is possible…) and I do not blame any of the other drivers. But for a guy like me, who has a team consisting of myself and two old guys who sit in the stands ( think Statler and Waldorf from the muppets ) a beat up car is a real problem. Because i have to fix it. And if I work enough to pay to get to the races, I can't fix it.
Still reading? Why? Even I have given up at this point. Speaking of points, I better get to one.
Racers, by and large, do this stuff because is is frigging awesome. It is the most fun you can imagine. It is a roller coaster you control, a symphony of grace and violence, an amazing dichotomy of individual struggles and community support. It is elegant and elemental, a ballet of vulgarity. I have never felt so helpless and in control at the same time in my life.
So guys like Hearn, Tremont, Johnson(s), Trombley and the rest may very well chase the money. It is, mostly, how they survive.
Guys like me will go where ether feel they can get the most laps for the least amount of money.
Some guys will cherry pick.. they want to win. They want to hear the crowd cheer. ( I have two wins. The crowd wasn't a big deal for me. My Son on the roof of my car with a flag was awesome. I have no burning desire to take risks to repeat that )
Where does all this leave us?
Respect promotors. Seriously. If you can do better, please do. I would love to have more options of tracks to race at. Otherwise, these guys work very hard to give me a playground. We should all appreciate that.
Forget predicting where racers will race. I think we, as drivers, are probably the most individualistic group that has ever been loosely assembled. there are probably twenty five reasons why there are thirty three cars at the track that night.
Enforce the rules. In all seriousness, if GR is serious about enforcing rules, I would be much more likely to return. When guys get caught cheating at Syracuse, where there is tech, what do you think they are doing at GR? I have never seen a rev box pulled. Never seen battery voltage checked. Is anyone cheating? I have no idea. Everyone says everyone else is. But the Budget class should be strictly policed.
If one driver is rough every week, kick him out. Seriously. The rest of the class doesn't want to have to fix that shit. I have been passed by everyone who runs a Sportsman car. Most of them pass me cleanly and without incident. A few seem to be unable to get around me without a whack. That costs me money. If you allow it at your track, I won't be back.
If a driver is a dick, kick him out. I know it seems like throwing someone out costs you money.. but I think you will retain other drivers. Hell, I don't want to get caught up in some fiasco with a driver going backwards on the track trying to hit someone. It is embarrassing. I don't want to be associated with that kind of behavior.
So for me, I guess, I run where I am comfortable. And "comfortable" is equal parts fun, safe, and fair. The vast majority of drivers have no chance of winning, so the payout up top means nothing.
I think the promotors lose sight of that sometimes.