Story continues below this advertisement
I feel about 90% qualified to write an article about the “health” of Bracket Racing since I have raced since 1970 and entered 45 events this year alone. Do I have all the answers? No. Do I have any of the answers? Maybe, maybe not. I hope you will read and share your opinions on what I think can be part of the cure for the failing health of bracket racing.
I will start by reporting on what I watched and what I heard in conversations during the grueling Winter Series last month. The Winter Series consisted of three five-day events at three different tracks, South Georgia Motorsports Park, Bradenton Motorsports Park and Palm Beach Int’l Raceway, that are separated by about 350 miles. Each event consisted of five $15,000- to $10,000-to-win quarter-mile races; two tracks had three eighth-mile events and PBIR had an eighth-mile race each day as well. That is 26 events in eighteen days! If you want to test your own physical and mental health and the capabilities of your race car, you should give this series a try in 2011.
What did these events show us about the health of bracket racing?
It showed me plenty about bracket racing in general. From the superb driving and flawlessly performing cars to how much luck is still involved in turning on the win light in your lane.
How to get more cars to support this series: The turnouts at each event were close to identical, about 120 to 130 entries. Don’t mistake this for 130 or 140 cars, as there were probably only 100 actual race cars since several were double-entered to reach the 130 to 140 entries. Entry fees were not for the budget-minded either. (If I miss slightly on the Big Race Entry fees it is because I did NOT have that much money in my race budget.) I think SGMP was $225 per day for the Big Race and $125 per day for the eighth-mile race. I think the Bradenton Big Races were $150 per day and $50 for the eighth-mile races. PBIR offered a Pre-entry discount that we took advantage of (and I think is an excellent idea, by the way). You could enter their five $10,000-to-win quarter-mile races and the eighth mile races for $850 -- a savings of about $300 -- and they provided you a reserved parking spot. If you took one car and entered everything you would spend $3,175 minimum. Add in a few buybacks and a pit pass or two and you are close to $5,000 just to race this series.
Double Entries – buy-backs – multiple drivers in same car? Is there a distinct advantage to having a couple drivers in the same car? If one driver is in two cars is that an advantage over the driver who has just one shot in one car? Do buy-backs “take away” from the overall event? By that I mean if you win a round over a big-name racer and he is in the other lane a few rounds later, does that diminish what you did? These are questions that are probably affecting car count.
Are entry fees and winner prize money too high? As we all know -- at least those of us who pay entry fees -- payout and entry fees are directly linked. The more you race for, the more you pay to enter. Have we gone too far? Is it necessary to pay $15,000 or $10,000 per day at these races to attract enough racers to participate? Would more racers come if it paid $25,000 per day and entry fees went to $300 per day to win?