Are the days of packed grandstands in drag racing or auto racing in general gone?

CB: I really don't think there's a traveling series, other than the Mello Yello Series, that will be able to consistently pack grandstands with more than 15,000-20,000 people. I think there are unique stand-alone events that will continue to accomplish that such as (Bill) Bader's Night Under Fire, Englishtown's Monster Shows, the March Meet, some of the major Import events and Bandimere's 4th of July show. However, no one has been able to have a traveling circus that can go from town-to-town and successfully pack the grandstands of national event facilities. I think you will see the great promoters pulling off their own unique events that work specifically in their market. Too many of the other tracks are being run by track operators who want to make sure they have their job on Monday and refuse to take any risk. They want to make sure the person they report to, or the stockholder, is happy with the status quo and they won't lay it out there on the line to do something revolutionary. You can't put together that "next big thing" unless the best tracks are all in the mix and it feels well produced.

I do like the things I'm seeing with tours like Cliff Wallace's Import Face-off, Randy Cole's National Hot Rod Diesel Association, and off-the wall stuff like Streetcar Takeover. Those tours aren't filling national event tracks but they are making an impact on them. Those events have a solid core of followers who will travel and spend money on racing. I think those specialized series will keep growing where they consistently deliver crowds of 3,500-7,000 people.

Do you think that in general race fans' interest in the sport is in decline?

CB: I don't think that interest in racing is waning; I think what has happened is that technology has now made it more accessible from every angle. We need to really look at consumption numbers. I now follow more forms of racing than ever before thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and live streaming. There was one night during Speedweeks that I had the NASCAR qualifying from Daytona on the TV, a broadcast from SpeedShift.TV on my laptop and the World of Outlaws on Dirtvision playing on my iPad. At the same time, I was getting Twitter updates on my iPhone.

I think a lot of the fans are like me in that they now do other things but they are following the sport on so many different levels. I think this technology has also opened the door for more types of special interest racing…such as watching the Street Car Super Nationals on Bangshift. That race, when it first started, was watched by 2,000 people in the grandstands. Now, 10 years into it, that race is being viewed all over the world and that has led people to want to see it for themselves.

We need to make sure we are properly tracking digital consumption before we start saying the whole sport is in trouble. It's not just about the butts in the seats and the ratings numbers, our footprint is growing but no one really knows how to truly value it.

So you are using social media such as Facebook for advertising?

CB: Over the course of the past few months I've been working closely with a couple of digital marketing geniuses to get a handle on how to properly promote on Facebook. BJ Birtwell of the Armory Marketing agency, who also owns the TORC off-road series, has been an incredible teacher. His ideas are amazing and he has figured out how to shoot fish in a barrel.

When I was taking telecommunications classes at the University of Kentucky back in the late '80s we talked about the magic bullet theory that would never exist. Back then it was all about TV and radio. Now, with Facebook, it's so easy to pinpoint exactly whom you are trying to reach. My next tutorial is going to be on Pandora advertising. As we add music elements to our shows, we are going use Pandora to reach those fans. My Nostalgia Rendezvous event targets rockabilly music. Facebook and Pandora can help me reach that unique audience.

Television, radio and newspaper advertising used to be the staples of a promotional campaign. Now I feel that promoters need to be seriously looking at social media, Google, and digital billboards. People are buzzing through TV commercials on the DVR, in the cars they are listening to satellite radio or their iPod, and their news is coming from social media like Twitter or a website…not a paper. Advertising with any of those three is a gamble these days.

I'm most excited about digital billboard campaigns in this market. I love being able to change the artwork daily, throw a countdown clock into the mix, add last minute news…and it plays well with the same things being posted on websites or social media.