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A $300,000 winner at a bracket race and you can’t find results -- WTH!!
As most of you know, I owned and managed a couple drag strips in the “old days” when $1,000 or $2,000 to win was a big payout. We would send results to anyone who might print it or even talk about it. We wanted people to know about our sport. We used to get spectators back then too. Not thousands but we consistently got hundreds to come watch bracket racing. I would think it would be easier to do now with the great looking cars and the amount of FAST cars. We used to book in supercharged funny cars that struggled to run 7.50s. Now you can have a bracket race and 25% of the field is running at or faster than 7.50s on the quarter mile!
Here is my “WTH Moment” from the last month. We had “The Million” drag race with a winner who earned nearly $300,000 with a Pontiac-powered Firebird, several bracket races that paid anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 to win … and literally about 200 people know who won. That is extremely poor reporting and does nothing to promote the sport and build interest on any level.
I realize the promoters of these racers want to accomplish three things: make profits off entry fees (which they do quite well and good for them), have a race atmosphere that will bring the racers back next year, and have an event that is organized and a pleasure to be part of from the racer’s point of view. Promoters, like Randy Folk who stages “The Million Dollar Drag Race” has done just that. With his daughter’s help they have created one of the largest and definitely the highest paying drag race in the World. Total spectators that watch the event? Maybe 10 at the event who aren’t there to race or part of the crew and a couple thousand logged in to a Live Video field. NOT ENOUGH! Why isn’t ESPN, FOX Sports or at least a local TV station invited out to be part of this?
One of the reasons I see is the EXTREME DELAYS in completing events. I didn’t keep track of the time but I would guess it was 20-30 minutes between the rounds for the last four rounds. WHY? Make at least an attempt to be a form of entertainment. They had a couple excellent announcers and a great facility. If they would set a time schedule the last four rounds, when the BIG MONEY is on the line I have to believe local media would be all over that … IF they knew about it; that’s the issue.
We did not get any race results, that I was aware of, for any of the Big Bucks races that have been happening the last month or so. WHY? Is it Top Secret that these races are making lots of profits? Anyone with a calculator or a brain can figure that out. I think the people who are race fans are simply that “race fans”. We can find all sorts of results about NHRA races where the winners get $1500 and maybe a Wally for a $150 entry fee and maybe even $10,000 to win a NHRA National event that took five days to complete and they needed the right decals to get paid.
The race media is here to help promoters and the racers. I invite all tracks to “use us” and our 300,000+ readers per month to help make their events stronger and build some awareness so that all the prize money doesn’t have to come out of the racer’s weekly paycheck. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a crowd filling the bleachers for a $10,000-to-win bracket race and entry fee was only $25 instead of $250? If people know about these events and they are completed in a very fast, timely fashion it might happen. The track owners and promoters would probably like to see $50,000 in concession sales, $20,000 in spectator admission tickets sold. Imagine the scope of a Big Bucks bracket race if the stands were full and people were yelling for the Door Car to beat that Dragster.
It is also on the racers to give some “personality” to their race cars. Names, sponsors logos, etc. will all help the sport. Bring team t-shirts, build an identity. With only a few walking away with more than their entry fees in payout I think the racers have to agree that “things need to change” if the Big Bucks races are to survive. It shouldn’t always be on the racer’s backs to pay the purse with entry fees.
The one thing we have to fix though, for this to happen, is how long the racing takes. It is on the edge of unwatchable. Bracket racing dragsters going across the start line and then slowly backing up shouldn’t be allowed. Some door cars doing the same thing, that’s even worse. No crossing the starting line, no backing up except to get straightened out, one car pre-stages and a clock starts to force the other guy into the beams. Even if it means limiting the amount of entries, the “feature race” needs to be just that…a Featured Race. Run time trials up to a certain time. Open the spectator gates and race goes non-stop until it’s over.
You have about a three-hour window for people’s attention span, so get it done and fill the gaps between rounds with “something” (motorcycles doing wheelies, golf cart races, doesn’t matter. Nothing is worse than a dragstrip that is empty except for some old tractor dragging a rubber squeegee up and down it) or just keep surviving off 92% of the racers who will leave the event losing several hundred dollars. I agree that seems to work but is it sustainable? Time will tell.