Racing Road Trips, You Got to Love them: Some Opinions From my 50 Years in Racing – DTD Exclusive


I know, I know it has been a long time since I have penned an article here for DTD, and I decided I will do a few from time to time once again. As many of you know, and if you don’t, you will now after reading this. I have retired from announcing after the final race at Afton Motorsports Park after fifty years of doing something at a race track from packing the track to just about every other job. Most of the time was behind a microphone, but the only two jobs I did not get to do in that time was being a general manager and I have no desire to do that anymore. The other was to be a race director and that I still would like to do as I have seen many races run at many speedways and I know that I could do better than what I have seen.

The article that you are about to read won’t be about a road trip this time, but in the future will be so I kept the title as that is what I wrote under in the past. I will write about things I have seen or heard at tracks that I find interesting or wonder if they are necessary or not. I will also write about something I would like to see at tracks.

Before I start, I want to remind everyone that these things are my opinion and should not reflect on any website, promoter, track, series or official. It should only reflect on me and you can agree or disagree as this is America and my opinion is one of the few things I still have. Hold on because this might offend some folks and I am not going to mention names of people or places. Guilty conscience might be the reason you might be offended though. “Heeeeeerrrrrrrrre they Come ”.

Over my years of working at the tracks or going to watch, here are a few of my pet peeves.  First, I will start with a couple of announcer annoyances in my opinion. I keep mentioning that because that is what this is about, my opinion. Why do I need to listen to some music right up until the announcer starts the line-up and sometimes even during the line-up? Then it starts as the cars are headed down the frontstretch. So many tracks the sound system will not allow you to hear it then. To me it seems to happen whenever I am somewhere and there are a few drivers I don’t know and I never hear their names. Here is a question for so many of the announcers that say this after a yellow and they are ready to go back racing they will say we are ready to go green flag racing. What other color flag are they allowed to race under than green? Here is one last one before moving on and that is some of the tracks that will run most of the hot-laps before the announcer even starts talking.

I gave you a few negatives and now a few positives in my opinion that the announcer does. I know some of this is dependent on the freedom he or she has behind the microphone. One is telling the fans what happened on the track even if it is controversial. I have also heard some track announcers that have a great way that they do their line-up and or some great nicknames and certain catch phrases. I do have to say in my time I have been guilty of some of these positives and negatives. I will say before moving on the reason I am finally calling it a career is the on-track interview. It has just become too much for this old fat man to make that trip to victory lane five to six times a night. I would love to see the driver get the checkered flag and take a lap around the track as I am old school. I know that it has to be done in this day and age for drivers to thank their sponsors and for nightly track sponsors to get in into the tracks sponsored victory lane. I will say that it would be better if the track didn’t let so many people down to take so many pictures as it just gets too long. Sometimes I feel some announcers just take too long asking about the race as they need to get to the point and let the driver answer. Lastly on this subject, waiting until the end of the night to do a bunch of them accomplishes nothing and hurts all sponsors involved. Remember folks, my opinions.

Moving on.  I have a few opinions on the head flagger position at race tracks good and bad and one big opinionated one. Three quick positives are these, they are able to see anything on the track close to the wall on the frontstretch and to throw the checkered flag to end the race. They can also be a showman if capable enough for the pleasure of the fans. A few pet peeve negatives to mention. With 10 laps remaining in a race and the flagger holds both hands out to tell the driver’s that. No yellow flag in hand, if they are on the flagger stand then that flag should never leave their hand. I don’t like when they try to look brave at shaking a flag at a driver or putting out the black flag to a lower division for something that happens where in an upper division would not do. My opinion on this subject is if the track has a good race director and all divisions use the one way radios this position could be eliminated, but I am sure that won’t happen anytime soon. 

Here are a few miscellaneous pet peeves I’ve seen at tracks all over. Before doing these, I again will reiterate that they are my opinions and also remind everyone I believe most tracks have way more positives then negative so get out and enjoy. One that I am sure many agree with, cars stopping on track to get a yellow. In a heat race the tracks should not wait for the driver and in the feature it should be a one-time thing. If you didn’t get one chance the point races in regular season points and series races would lose interest in some racers. Another one is when tow vehicles and or push vehicles are not moving when yellow is displayed. I could go on this subject in more depth, but will leave it here. It is very enjoyable when a track has one race done and the next race ready to come right out. Love to see all tracks get this part of their show hammered down. My last pet peeve for now is the wasted time tracks have after the line-up is set to go racing, they find it necessary to have the flagger wave the white. Turn off the yellow and let’s go back to racing.

I want to put my two-cents in on the live streaming that many tracks are doing with many different streaming services. Are they good or bad? My take is on both ends, but I lean to the positive side with a clause. I believe smaller tracks with smaller fan bases have the most to lose by allowing it. Tracks have just a short time to generate revenue so with streaming it leaves some fans the opportunity to stay home that could have gone to the track. The plus though it has the chance for others to tune in from a distance and see how the racing is there. That takes me back to running an efficient program. The other plus it has to be a great way for competitors and track promoters to use as a tool to potential sponsors. The larger tracks definitely also use this as a tool. Getting larger crowds those tracks can absorb the hit a little better than the smaller ones. I am not sure how the tracks are paid by these services, but I would guess it is by a percentage of viewership. The larger series out there I believe it is truly a plus as you can reach people from all over and can grow the product and highlight their stars. I know like last weekend if Hagerstown ran, I already made the decision to stay home and watch with a friend instead of making the four and a half hour ride each way because of the possible weather. In the long run the streaming service is a plus as I know going in that I am only going to see part of the action as it truly not the same as being there. I ask everyone to get to your local track and support them as they could use the support and bring a friend. My one pet peeve on the streaming services and everyone I have seen does it. The camera folks need to follow the announcer or announcing team on what they are calling as it would make it easier for the folks to follow along.

Some of the dirt tracks switching this season to run under the NASCAR umbrella I believe is a big boost for those streaming services and also the tracks and competitors in securing sponsorship. The name is well known all over so it opens it to other folks that might not have had interest before. The competitors can run for track, state and region points and have a much better insurance policy than most sanctioning bodies or individual tracks. IMCA also has a good deal similar to the above. Yes, the insurance will cost you more money though I know.

Speaking on insurance, two pieces of advice for you, if you want to listen. I believe all you folks racing should find out just what insurance the tracks are carrying and just what it covers as most should know it is just a supplement to your own insurance. Hopefully, if you are racing, you do have insurance on yourself. One last thing is if you race, work or spectate at any track that the New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) is involved in, I highly recommend you purchase membership to this fine organization.

Finally, a couple of things that I would love to see at race tracks. More things to entertain youngsters and older folks at the track for early arriving fans and for the down time during intermission that is easy to do. There are so many rolling around in this huge noggin of mine. The other I really would love to see tracks do this and I would love to be doing it, but somebody doing it. I am talking about what every sport you watch has this and it is a color commentator. Some tracks have two announcers but they share calling races back and forth or calling together. A true color commentator brings so much more for the fan experience in person or if they are streaming the broadcast.

Hopefully weather holds true and I get to make a true road trip to Selinsgrove Speedway this Saturday for a Rent Equip Party Central South Region Short Track Super Series event for Modified and Crate Sportsman cars. Racing to get underway at two. Will also be covered by FLORACING if you are unable to attend in person.

Remember all above is my opinion except the last paragraph. “There They Are” Until next time Race On!