Why I Didn't Take Grandsons Dirt Racing Tonight

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

It has been an absolutely gorgeous day here in Charlotte, NC. It has been so pretty, in fact, that I was tempted to take my two grandsons dirt track racing tonight.

I live in far southeast Charlotte, very near the South Carolina line and about a thirty minute drive from the nice half-mile dirt track at Lancaster, SC ... straight down U.S. 521 from Charlotte.

So, I went to the track website to see what kind of "show" was going on tonight.

The website proclaimed a "Regular Show" scheduled tonight. That sounded o.k. until I read the next paragraph that described a "Regular Show."

Folks... I don't care what the website says.... 7 divisions of racing in one night are NOT going to be exciting. They are going to be BORING ... drawn out ... and with tiny car counts .

I wouldn't cross the street to have to sit through 7 divisions of racing. I certainly wouldn't expect my 9 year old and 13 year old grandsons to sit through 7 divisions of racing.

What is wrong with these track promoters?

2-3 divisions with large car counts and full heat races make for a great show and great night of racing. 7 divisions makes most spectators stay home.

Randy Myers , Danny Whitener and I talked about this very subject last Saturday during lunch at our RR visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Randy, from a family of racers and a former promoter himself, hit the nail on the head with his explanation. The promoters have run off their spectators so they're trying to make money on their "back gate."

The promoters have lost all control trying to please every faction of racer and have created an uncontrollable monster of numerous divisions that the fan in the stand can't keep up with.

Anyway, I stayed away from the track I thought about attending tonight. Will someone please let me know when the local promoters come to their senses and return to a reasonable number of divisions so I can again show up?




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"

updated by @dave-fulton: 08/09/18 02:38:58AM
N.B. Arnold
@nb-arnold
6 years ago
121 posts
Dave, fear not as the season opens at Bowman Gray in three weeks for the official start of red neck high-holy days. You can't beat it and can go in the pits before and after. Can't beat the price. We will be there! Join us. Also the red neck solstice actually begins on Sunday with WrestleMania!
At the stadium you can be sure that something stupid may happen and the kids will love the view, the racing and excitement.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Great idea. Thanks, N.B.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
6 years ago
3,119 posts

Dave, this is exactly the issue I have with the "local" tracks. Two examples:

1. I managed to talk Ann into going over to that track where the Bell and Bell boys were running ( the track in South Carolina the name of which I can't recall). This was maybe 3 years ago when they were just getting started. I had hoped to go into the pits and be around the guys. WRONG. Pit passes were $50.00 each, which would have been $100.00 for Ann and me to go in the pits. Some have denied that to be true, but Ann was with me when we went to the sign in booth and we were told, and a sign was posted clearly indicating $50.00 each. So, we retreated to the grandstands. Dustin was there videoing some of the action. Ann and I suffered through lap after lap of one car qualifying but I couldn't tell you now for which divisions. Seems like they "qualified" every vehicle there but my mini-van and the water truck. Not sure how many divisions were there but the "racing" went on endlessly, which wouldn't have been so bad if the racing was good. Some events had three, some four, some more cars which would get strung out almost on the green flag. By the time the Bell and Bell boys (not even sure they were Bell and Bell then) got on the track, it was approaching midnight. As soon as their race was over, Ann and I left, not knowing what may still be left to run. It was after 3:00 a.m. when we got home and we had to have showers as we were covered in dirt and dust. Needless to say if I tried to take Ann back to that track, I would be charged under South Carolina Domestic Violence law.

2. A "local" track, about an hour's drive from me, had a long history of providing fair to good racing. A couple of seasons ago, I made several trips there hoping to get some good short track racing in. I'm not sure how many division they were running, but it was at least six. Heat races with two cars each? Come on folks, just let them draw for position and save all the time it takes to run 10 laps with a caution every lap or two for a spin. The last time I attended an event at that track it was well after midnight before I left and they were just lining up the last event. Some of the races were exciting and worth the time. Those races were in two divisions which I would equate to the old days Late Model Sportsman and the Limited Sportsman. I must say the ticket prices were fair at that track. Concession prices were fair and the food was good quality. But this I noticed on my last trip there. I counted the number of cars in the pits and the number of fans in the stands. Yes, there were that few fans that they were easily countable from my seat in turn one. Even as poor as I am in math, if every CAR in the pits had fans in the stands, then that was 3.5 fans per car.

All of my years of going to short tracks and seeing Late Model and Limited Sportsman compete, usually two 10 laps heats for the limited with a 25 to 50 lap feature and two ten lap heats for Late Model with a 50 to 100 lap feature were wonderful years. Not that I cared so much then about getting home late (which usually meant 11:30 p.m. or at least before midnight), but we had time to hang out in the pits afterwards with the drivers we got to know. It was somewhat difficult to have a "favorite" back then because we knew them all.

Here it is Sunday morning and I should be drinking my coffee, reflecting on some good short track racing last night before going to church. Problem is trying to find some good short track racing close enough to visit on Saturday night. Oh, I would love to attend Bowman-Gray some night, but that is quite a drive from Columbia.

So, Mr. Fulton, thank you for putting into words my very thoughts. Surely our paths crossed many times in the days of yore! I'm glad that now those paths have finally converged!

Randy Myers3
@randy-myers3
6 years ago
23 posts

Come on "old timer"! Its less than three hours from Columbia to BGS. They have some nice motels in the area that won't rob you and if you are tough enough you could stay for all the races and still be home in time to get a decent nights sleep before going to church. PLUS! You might even get to see me!




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Randy Myers
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Maybe we should hold a RacersReunion event at Bowman Gray and all stay at a local motel.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
danny whitener
@danny-whitener
6 years ago
47 posts

Dave, I really dont know what it will take for these so called promoters to wake up. Like you I dont frequent the local tracks like I use to. 2/3 divisions and you can get the fans out at a decent hour. If a guy takes his family and racing is not over until midnight or later, his family will not want to go back therefore you are not gaining a fan base but losing it. I would much like to see a good competitive field than all these different divisions.

danny whitener
@danny-whitener
6 years ago
47 posts

Tim, you and Dave have hit it right on the nail head. These socalled promoters are ruining the short track arenas.

Bobby Williamson
@bobby-williamson
6 years ago
907 posts

The health of Saturday night racing, in far too many cases, is anemic. Also, it's well known that many tracks have resorted to operating off the 'back gate'. The reasons are many and we've discussed them for years on this site. I don't necessarily agree with this current mode of operation, but IMO, the non-support of local racing is a problem too, it's throwing out the baby with the bath-water. In a perfect world, the stands would be full, the pits would be full, and an evening of fantastic racing would be completed at 10 O'clock. And every once in a while, such a nightstillhappens. We all can recite the days of yore, when our home-town track (if we were so fortunate tohaveone) done everything just splendidly, it was simply heaven each and every Saturday night, andnothingcan or will ever come close to our memories. Trouble is, a lot of those warm fuzzy memories happened at places we now callGhost Tracks. It's not the 50's and '60's anymore. It's just not, and it never will be. Local racing can die, simply for lack of interest. We can blame it on everything under the sun, from the Waltrip brothers, and BZF, on down, but it can die, and the lack of support is enemy number one.

Bowman Gray Stadium, is a unique case, and one that can't be compared to anything and any place else in America. It may be the ideal, but it isnot typical. There's lots of reasons for its success, but high on the list is consistency. It's been there since big Bill and Alvin Hawkins negotiated the lease in the late 1940's. It's becamepart of the culture of north-western North Carolina. BUT, should anything ever happen to this idyllic situation, all bets are off, and the same cars and same staff, at a different setting will be akin to starting all over again. Not saying it can't be done, again, but it'll be a challenge.

Patsy Thompkins ~ Keisler
@patsy-thompkins-keisler
6 years ago
559 posts

WOW....Sounds like some need to find a Track that caters to the "Senior Fans". Seriously, guys...we are ALL getting older. BUT, the thing is...if the Tracks are depending on you to help keep the Gates open, how much support, and how often would it happen??

1. Don't like the prices-Times have changed, and, ALL things have gone up.

2. Don't want to get dirty- You are at a Dirt Track. Personally, I revel in the DIRT....

3. Get out late- Really? I don't remember getting out...too, early....EVER!! AND, how many of you...regularly attended Church..."back in the Day"? Heck, most of us...were doing good, to even roll OUT of bed the morning after. Just telling it like it was...and, if you didn't have "after-parties", you weren't racing...

I don't want you guys...who, have taught me, and loved me for many years now, to become old, crotchety, bitter people!

Our oldest driver...at the age of 84, was recently diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. This has already spread to his liver, and lungs. HE, has chosen not to have any treatment, other than to help with the pain. HE has been given only a few months...to live. His dream, and wishes are to be in that Racecar every chance he can, until God calls him home! I will book, overbook...anything I can to try and see his wish is fulfilled. AND, this man...is a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher....who still at his age, has been able to do it all. He had open heart surgery last year, and was back on the Track within...weeks...following that. You will NEVER see anything...but a smile on his face!

I know...that nothing, is as it used to be, AND we are ALL getting older. But, we can at least be thankful for the memories that we have....and, age Gracefully.

I wrote...that VERY controversial article..last year, after returning to my Home Track for the first time in many years. BUT, it was written out of concern, and love. I NEVER, stopped supporting the Track, and there have been some major changes that have taken place.

Use your knowledge, offer it up. You never know...how you may be able to make a difference in a Track, or even save it....You could have a major impact. But, you can't just post it here...you have to take the message, and offer help...to open, and willing ears. Like they say....IF, you don't vote...you don't have the right to complain. I love ya'll...~Patsy~

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Patsy, dear....

If you love seeing so many divisions you'll have to try Southern National one night. Tonight they have NINE feature races on tap in eight divisions... well, only seven divisions if you don't count the pedal car race. However, you'd have to sacrifice dirt for asphalt! At least they are advertising group qualifying. No mention of heat races, though. Sounds like an all day affair for the crews. Tech opened at 11:00 a.m. this morning for races tonight. Gosh, we used to work on Saturday morning and race on Saturday night. I am just an old fogey who time has passed by I guess.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Now, my old friend Billy Sawyer up at Virginia Motor Speedway is running the kind of schedule tonight I could handle... and it's on dirt! Wish I was closer.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"