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Some of you are aware that I attended the last race in the Florida Winter Series this November. It was set up to be a great event but when the rains came it changed it into a lot of time to stand around and talk to other racers about what they liked and didn’t like about the changing Florida Winter Series.
One thing I got from almost all the conversations; it was a very expensive two and half weeks of racing. I can understand that. That was one reason I left Iowa in time to attend only one of them. It seems to me, if I remember the event flyers correctly, you could easily spend $2500 to $3000 on entry fees alone for the 14 races. Toss in fuel costs, meals, a little beachside entertainment and groceries and it can be a $4000 couple of weeks, and that is IF you only bring one car with you. The racers that haul two or three cars can add another $3000 to that total. The racers that attend know the costs involved, and they are aware of the rewards. $10,000 to $15,000 to win races is what attracts them to the series. The costs are not a surprise, and I am not saying they cannot afford it by any means. The racers attending the current Winter Series are pretty flush when it comes to spendable income. I think it’s great they have chosen drag racing as one of their hobbies, but I do think it is sad that the Winter Series has become so expensive that a regular weekly bracket racer is getting cut out of the picture of what used to be fun.
I think each of the Winter Series races had about 130 to 150 cars entered in the Big Bucks races. When I first started racing in the Winter Series there were 300+ cars at every race. Now, of those 130-150 entries, I don’t know how many guys drove two cars, had the same car entered by two or more drivers, or what else was going on. To that point, I am pretty sure the tracks don’t know or really care who is driving what car and how many times they enter it. They need entry fees to make a $15,000 to win race survive. That in itself creates one of the major problems. When one driver is in two cars and someone else is also in those cars that is four shots at winning with two drivers and two cars. Sure, they are paying the correct entry fees but the cars are being raced so regularly they know exactly what it will run the next round because it might have run just 8 minutes ago and the single entry racer may have been waiting for an hour since his last run. See the problem?
The Winter Series and a lot of other Big Dollar Bracket races used to see 250 to 350 cars in attendance. Why was that? Have those racers lost their skill and feel they can’t win big races anymore? No way! But I will say I think they feel outnumbered in a way. If you give a good racer two chances in the same race with another driver also running the car and getting some ET Slips in between their own races he will be one TOUGH guy to beat. It’s a numbers game and if you bracket race you are very aware of that. You put the numbers in your favor; you win more races, period.