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I know this was almost 20 years ago but I forgot this USNA series actually existed.  I was wondering about more information if the series or the story behind it.   Like who was promoting it.    How long did it last?    Why did it fail? Is there any videos of these races?    What kind of rulers were they running and how threatened was dirt at by this series?!?     Thanks!!!

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I know it didn’t last long and if I remember correctly the car count was good but there were no fans in the stands.  They ran a big race at Syracuse early in the season with hardly a crowd there for what I believe was a large purse.  I think with jack or Brett would have won the points series but I thought the series fell through before the first year of completion or that the payout was drastically cut for the points champion.  It’s been so long I can’t honestly remember most of the specifics anymore.

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USNA was created by Dave P and Gale Mitchell...Dave's family owned Fay's Drugs and Gale was President of their Wheels Discount Auto Supply stores chain.

The ideas behind the series were good...and maybe a bit ahead of their time.  From the inside, I can say that there was a level of sponsorship support that was expected from both inside and outside the racing industry that didn't materialize...and a lot of that had to do with being the new/untried commodity versus the older/heritage/proven commodity...kind of the same thing that happens when you have a radio station that's played (example) country music for a long time, then another station pops up trying to do the same thing and fight for the same share of the audience and revenue.  Sometimes, the new is significantly better or different and it kills the old.  Other times, the old can't be bettered.

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I know Bobco Racing Video has the Albany-Saratoga and Devils Bowl USNA races on DVD. The Devils Bowl USNA race was one for the record book. You'll really enjoy watching it.

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I guess the USNA race at Syracuse had less than 250 people in the stands. For a series that was trying to be something "different" than DIRT, starting at Syracuse was a big mistake because it is so unlike any other track out there. 

USNA was controversial as well because the races were being run on weekends, against weekly track racing. And they had no member tracks, it was just a tour. (All tracks independent from DIRT.)

I remember hearing a few folks saying, "These USNA guys are the real deal," and I know they had money behind them but I can honestly say I was never that interested in what they were offering.

I always thought Alex Freisen's STORM was going to be a really viable alternative to DIRT because he had member tracks lined up from Canada to PA, a couple of existing marquis events (Victoria 200, Freedom 76, Coalcracker and Ransomville Summer Nationals) and a huge car base. Alex had me really excited for the future of racing.

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If I recall correctly...

Donnelly was trying to get them to buy dirt at the time and selling them the usual bill of goods, “tens of thousands of people go to the races” every weekend. They thought instead of buying Dirt if they could start their own deal with top dirt stars, they would get big crowds. 179 people attended the first race at Syracuse (albeit rain delayed) and they never recovered. 

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On 1/9/2019 at 11:32 PM, con7 said:

If I recall correctly...

Donnelly was trying to get them to buy dirt at the time and selling them the usual bill of goods, “tens of thousands of people go to the races” every weekend. They thought instead of buying Dirt if they could start their own deal with top dirt stars, they would get big crowds. 179 people attended the first race at Syracuse (albeit rain delayed) and they never recovered. 

I get the feeling you're criticizing Glenn.  If you are, think about this:

 

Image may contain: text that says '769 DIRT TRACKS IN THE U.S. There are more than 80,000 drivers that race on dirt before nearly 1.3 million fans every weekend from February through November. That represents 52 million dirt track tickets a year. More than NASCAR, NBA, NFL and NHL combined!'

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4 hours ago, DaRooster said:

I get the feeling you're criticizing Glenn.  If you are, think about this:

 

Image may contain: text that says '769 DIRT TRACKS IN THE U.S. There are more than 80,000 drivers that race on dirt before nearly 1.3 million fans every weekend from February through November. That represents 52 million dirt track tickets a year. More than NASCAR, NBA, NFL and NHL combined!'

Eh...That graphic compares the minor leagues of racing with the major leagues of the stick and ball sports.  How many people do you suppose attend minor league baseball or college football and basketball each year?

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1 hour ago, FightForTheRail said:

Eh...That graphic compares the minor leagues of racing with the major leagues of the stick and ball sports.  How many people do you suppose attend minor league baseball or college football and basketball each year?

It’s also really hard to determine how many tickets are actually sold at dirt tracks each year to make such comparisons. And they hilariously left out MLB. 

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You know though, you can still really plausibly argue that short track racing generates at least 20-25 million tickets a year.

Average track runs 20 races. Figure 1500 people in stands (including kids) and 500 in pits* ... 2000 per race event x 20 events = 40,000 attendance per track. x 600 tracks = 24,000,000.

* I know, not every track has that, but on average I think that is reasonable-ish. Sure, some tracks only have 500 in the stands, but lots of tracks (again, counting kids, which are normally not paid admissions but should count for attendance) get that many ... and there are lots of tracks like Lebanon Valley, OCFS, Thunder Road, Granby, Bridgeport, Wall, Lincoln, Williams Grove, Knoxville, Eldora, Charlotte's midweek Legends shows, etc that get far, far more than 1500 in stands and 500 in pits. 

Worst cast scenario, say you drop it to 1000 in the stands  & 500 in pits, 15 shows a year, you are still are at 30,000 avg attendance x 600 tracks = 18 million attendance a year. Still, solid numbers no matter how you look at it. Racing, in that context, is a pretty big industry.

I would be really curious to see paid attendance #s for minor league baseball, football, hockey, etc.

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3 minutes ago, BillSmith said:

You know though, you can still really plausibly argue that short track racing generates at least 20-25 million tickets a year.

Average track runs 20 races. Figure 1500 people in stands (including kids) and 500 in pits* ... 2000 per race event x 20 events = 40,000 attendance per track. x 600 tracks = 24,000,000.

* I know, not every track has that, but on average I think that is reasonable-ish. Sure, some tracks only have 500 in the stands, but lots of tracks (again, counting kids, which are normally not paid admissions but should count for attendance) get that many ... and there are lots of tracks like Lebanon Valley, OCFS, Thunder Road, Granby, Bridgeport, Wall, Lincoln, Williams Grove, Knoxville, Eldora, Charlotte's midweek Legends shows, etc that get far, far more than 1500 in stands and 500 in pits. 

Worst cast scenario, say you drop it to 1000 in the stands  & 500 in pits, 15 shows a year, you are still are at 30,000 avg attendance x 600 tracks = 18 million attendance a year. Still, solid numbers no matter how you look at it. Racing, in that context, is a pretty big industry.

I would be really curious to see paid attendance #s for minor league baseball, football, hockey, etc.

I am not trying to beat you up about some of the specific tracks you mentioned, but there is not any way that some of the places you mentioned draw 1,500 fans a week. Bridgeport and Wall are total ghost towns for weekly shows.; the Grove has fallen off a cliff crowd wise for weekly shows over the past several years. OCFS doesn't draw weekly anything close to what it did a generation ago. Knoxville's regular shows are sparseto say the least. The Nationals fund the entire weekly season there.

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On 1/9/2019 at 11:32 PM, con7 said:

If I recall correctly...

Donnelly was trying to get them to buy dirt at the time and selling them the usual bill of goods, “tens of thousands of people go to the races” every weekend. They thought instead of buying Dirt if they could start their own deal with top dirt stars, they would get big crowds. 179 people attended the first race at Syracuse (albeit rain delayed) and they never recovered. 

Kind of, but not fully accurate.

I was still shooting most of the roof video content at most of the DIRT Series events when the USNA deal went down. David Panaschi came to DIRT with plans on buying the organization. His family business was already involved with Glenn and DIRT as sponsors through Wheels Discount Auto and Faye's Drugs.

The only thing left to do was sign the contract. After seeing the financial books and talking to a few of Glenn's key employees on the side, they bailed on Glenn to help Panaschi start his own organization with promises of better positions to those defectors.

USNA imploded because the payout was WAY too high for a fledgling company to pay out with no home base and no physical equipment. Nobody can blame the drivers for taking that money while it was there, but you also just knew that their business model could not work without television. With Glenn being solidly established with the networks and This Week on DIRT and Rush Hour, Panaschi started playing the game with a half inflated ball.

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Some folks will spin ANYTHING positive to a negative to belittle Glenn Donnelly.  Glenn was a visionary.  He catapulted dirt modified racing out of the antique-car '50's-'60's rut into the 21st century.  If it wasn't for Glenn, there'd be way fewer tracks left, running hammered-out coupes and coaches with beer-keg gas tanks and drivers wearing T-shirts with a cigar clenched between their teeth.  (Not really, but a little hyperbole now and then never hurt).  I rue the day he sold..........

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USNA was hardly the first promoter or promotion that tried to go too big at the start and went down in flames, and sadly, it’ll hardly be the last. 

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Ain't that the truth....same with new track promoters that jump in with both feet and end up over their heads  by thinking they are going to reinvent the racing business.

As I said in a former thread, the USNA thing really was a shame that it started so badly in NY, because I still swear to this day that the crowd I saw at Bridgeport for their race their was one of the largest crowds I ever saw in those front stretch bleachers.

 

Sorry Josh, meant to quote your post there.

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This thread really reminds me that we here at ARRA need to document this short lived and well intentioned series.

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9 hours ago, BobMiller said:

Kind of, but not fully accurate.

I was still shooting most of the roof video content at most of the DIRT Series events when the USNA deal went down. David Panaschi came to DIRT with plans on buying the organization. His family business was already involved with Glenn and DIRT as sponsors through Wheels Discount Auto and Faye's Drugs.

The only thing left to do was sign the contract. After seeing the financial books and talking to a few of Glenn's key employees on the side, they bailed on Glenn to help Panaschi start his own organization with promises of better positions to those defectors.

USNA imploded because the payout was WAY too high for a fledgling company to pay out with no home base and no physical equipment. Nobody can blame the drivers for taking that money while it was there, but you also just knew that their business model could not work without television. With Glenn being solidly established with the networks and This Week on DIRT and Rush Hour, Panaschi started playing the game with a half inflated ball.

Didn’t Glenn offer up the 358 series free & clear without any clauses to USNA & Alex?

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6 hours ago, DaRooster said:

Some folks will spin ANYTHING positive to a negative to belittle Glenn Donnelly.  Glenn was a visionary.  He catapulted dirt modified racing out of the antique-car '50's-'60's rut into the 21st century.  If it wasn't for Glenn, there'd be way fewer tracks left, running hammered-out coupes and coaches with beer-keg gas tanks and drivers wearing T-shirts with a cigar clenched between their teeth.  (Not really, but a little hyperbole now and then never hurt).  I rue the day he sold..........

WTF?????   you are joking, right?

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2 hours ago, Mike Coleates said:

Didn’t Glenn offer up the 358 series free & clear without any clauses to USNA & Alex?

I don't think so Mike, Alex was long deceased before the USNA  was thought of.

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2 hours ago, oilman said:

WTF?????   you are joking, right?

No....he is stating the truth....Glenn build dirt modified racing...propelled it further than it is today...go walk the pits and ask owners and drivers...they bitched about him when he was the boss and now they wish they had him back today...he was THE promoter for northeast modified racing...people use his failed endeavors of late to try and diminish what he built in the past...

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10 hours ago, Josh Bayko said:

USNA was hardly the first promoter or promotion that tried to go too big at the start and went down in flames, and sadly, it’ll hardly be the last. 

Lindy Vicari.

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58 minutes ago, BobMiller said:

Lindy Vicari.

More recently, John Kennedy springs to mind. 

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