Bracket Racing - Will it Survive All of "This"?
Bracket Racing - one of the largest participant-driven motorsports in existence. Will it survive the economic turmoil that is headed our way? I was thinking about all the crazy scenarios that could affect the sport that I have enjoyed for over 35 years of my life. Drag racing has always been pretty much the same deal since the early 1960s. You modify your engine, chassis and go race it. If you want expensive parts you went and bought them. If you wanted $12.00 per gallon specialized racing gasoline you simply ordered it. Will that remain the same? If you wanted to race this weekend you loaded up the car and went to the local dragstrip. Will that remain the same?
What does the future have in store for bracket racing and class racing?
When I asked myself that question I felt there were hundreds of correct answers. I am sure the situation is as different as the track's and racer's geographic locations are. I have summarized my feelings about what it might take to keep our sport alive in tough economic times and to set it up for growth in the future. I do want to make sure you are aware that we value your opinions and this is a very important subject to me. If it wasn't for drag racing I have no idea what I might be doing these days. It has been a part of my life and it was how I made my living for 15 years.
Will drag racers be able to save their own sport?
I hope so. If not, I know it will not be because we just gave up. Bracket racers are some of the most dedicated racers around. It isn't about the money or glory. It is about personal satisfaction and the competition among your peers, at least that is how I see it. Even with $4.00 per gallon fuel I would say bracket racers are still planning their race schedules. Will just attending bracket races be enough?
Will track owners and drag racers work together to protect the sport?
As a former track owner for about 15 years and a racer since 1969, I can tell you this is a question that has been on the table since the first drag strip opened. I think it is imperative in today's economic situation, that both racers and track owners get their act together and work towards similar goals. It cannot always be the racers saying "we need more prize money, then we would attend". It cannot always be the track owners saying "if the car count was better I would pay more money". Track owners need to get off their little pedestal and schedule events that coincide with events at other neighboring tracks. Don't force the racers to decide where to go, it will leave both tracks short on cars. Work together and both tracks will prosper. Racers need to support as many tracks as they can when that program is attractive enough to attend. The only real measuring stick in the end will be participant attendance compared to operating expenses for the tracks.
Travel less, race more. That's the plan, right?
As far as I am concerned it is about the only "plan" that makes sense. If I can travel to a dragstrip that will cost me $100.00 in fuel to get there and race in an event each day, that is the track I am going to attend. If another track is the same distance and only has a one-day event, literally it costs me twice as much "per race" in fuel for the tow vehicle. If you have a local track that only runs one-day events why not ask them about having a Gambler Race that starts after third round or maybe a Gambler Race for guys who are OK with one time trial and the Gambler Race could start just before the second time trial session. That way it is optional, guys who want time runs can still have them and guys who want to race can race. The track should like the idea, set it up so the track keeps maybe 20% of the Gambler Race entry fees. Pay back 4 or 8 places and I think it will bring more racers to the track.
I am trying to not leave the shop to go racing without a plan to get in at least two and hopefully three events at the track I am driving to. If a track wants my business it will have to offer something to lure me to their events.
One more thing to consider; OK, there are probably a lot of things.
The most common thing we all hear about what will limit our racing is the "cost of fuel". True, it isn't getting cheaper and by the way if you have been hoping it would get cheaper... forget it! Fuel is only part of it. Think about it. Bottled water or tea and sodas we throw in the cooler are about $9.00-11.00 per gallon! Prices we pay for racing essentials, like race fuel, methanol, gaskets, engine oil, etc are all going up. That is why my plan to only tow to events that offer multiple races on any given weekend is something I am sticking to. I am lucky to have a local track that has "seen the light", they race for $2,000.00 on Saturday and $2,000.00 on Sunday about once every three weeks. In between those dates they have test and tunes, Gambler Races Midnight Drags, etc. If anything will work for getting race cars to attend, I think the "more racing for your dollar" is the answer.
I promised myself I wouldn't mention politics.
So I almost didn't. I sure won't miss the political ads, how about you? Now, if the politicians we pay so well want to do something for us "little people", how about reducing government benefits provided to illegal aliens to ZERO, offer a affordable medical insurance program for small business owners, you know, like the one the elected officals in Congress have, that we all pay for! (I am a small businness owner and they want $1100.00 per month for very basic medical insurance!) demand the price of crude oil be "capped" at $75.00 per barrel or we withdraw our military protection of countries that are producing the oil. Why is it we protect and provide aid to countries that have millions of dollars of oil money revenue every day? They can just pay us for the protection at $75.00 per barrel for crude. Why is this so hard to do?
Anyway, I hope you can find a great dragstrip that will incorporate some new ideas to keep our sport growing as long as possible. The future is bright but it will be changing, there is no doubt about it.
Got an opinion on the future of drag racing, bracket racing or class racing? You can either keep it bottled up inside or you can get on that computer and send us your thoughts on where we are headed in the future.