We see it all too often – the terrible forecasts that dirt tracks face every few weekends. You know, the chances of rain and storms; uncertainty surrounding topics that not even the best meteorologists can’t predict. Tracks are faced with it time and again, but the right decision for owners and promoters is becoming harder than ever to calculate.
The changing culture of race fans is a primary cause. Not so long ago (at least that’s what I’m told), it was a no-brainer. If a track could race, then they would race. Financially speaking, it wasn’t nearly as much of a gamble as we see it now. The fans would show up, rain or shine, when a track opened its gates.
But times have changed, and so has the fan base that all local speedways depend on. We understand the die-hards’ frustration when a track doesn’t give 100% effort to race. Hell, every member of TDN is a die-hard to the max! But we also understand the numbers behind-the-scenes. When your final number is in the green on a perfect night, the owner can breathe a sigh of relief. Reaching one of those numbers on a weather-threatening night takes a miracle.
I’ve seen it personally more than handful of times. Tracks give a valiant effort, stick it out through the rain and cold, and hell, they even prepare a magnificent track that showcases fabulous racing! Yet the fans don’t show, and all that work results in a loss. Money out of the bank.
Next time around, the track cancels because it cannot afford another loss…and then the criticisms rain down on Twitter, Facebook, and forums. “If you don’t want to race, sell the track to someone who does” or after the track miraculously receives no rain, “The people in charge are dumb and should have taken a chance.”
Let’s take a step back here. Before we crucify the owners and promoters, we must remember that operating a race track is still a business. And no business is in it to lose money, especially if it’s a guaranteed loss at such a low reward if successful. It takes more than just the die-hard fans to pay for the insurance, operating and purse expenses that all tracks face.
There is some merit to constantly fighting back against the weather. Let’s turn to Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA) as an example. A less than favorable forecast does not kill them because for years they have ran when possible. But a culture like that takes time (and a lot of $$$) before the fan base catches on.
So what is the right answer? Why should or shouldn’t a track run (or make the attempt) when the impending forecast isn’t looking good. I’ve stated my case and don’t have one. So let’s hear it, what do you think tracks should do?