This past weekend i went to the races and decide to seek out 5 random fans and ask them their opinions on the racing scene here in Central PA. They where very forthright with their answers as they pertained to their feelings on everything from the driver of the 1/2 year, to what they would change if they ran a local short track.
With the economy the way it is, should local race tracks shortening the the racing schedule to help the race teams save a little money to make sure that we have full fields at all local race tracks ?
CRAIG - I don't think shortening the entire season would be all that heplful. The thing that hurts is the Keystone Cup, and Speedweek within a month of each other. I think if they want to keep the Keystone Cup they should spread it out over the course of the season. I would say one Keystone Cup race a month. One month Williams Grove host a race the following Month Lincoln and so forth. It would be more fan and Race team friendly that way. It gives the teams that bent stuff up more time to recoupe their losses.
MIKE - No...They are not forced to show up in the first place...
Mark - Rather than attempt to sue the Arabs for not drilling enough oil, we need to address the lack of domestic drilling to take step one toward solving the supply issue with our own supply. When fuel prices stabilize the overall economy will improve. The national economy is growing, albeit it slowly (1% revised numbers for Q1 -08). the local economy still has low unemployment compared to other regions of the country.
Johnny - I think there are too many races. The season should not start until April 1st. It would be nice if the tracks would work together and spread the 410's around. It would mean that all 3 would have to sacrifice some races and to stop running head to head as much.
Dave - Yes, If things stay the way of rising costs outside of racing, id shorten the season, cut out some midweek shows.
This year we have seen quite a few young drivers stepping up their game and win races and lead the points. Who do you think is the next 410 or 358 driver to step up to that next level ?
CRAIG - That's a tough one to answer because there are quite a few Young Guys out there that have the potentail of becoming the next Fred, Lance, Donnie or Kauffman. Cody Darrah, Arron Ott, Pat Cannon, Alan Krimes,and Brian Leppo just to name a few.
MIKE - Pat Cannon...
Mark - Darrah and Cannon are the 2008 standouts thus far.
Johnny - I unfortunately don't follow the 358/305/sportsman scene very closely... years ago i could answer this better. Obviously Pat Cannon had caught every one's eye ... but he is running very good equipment at every race.
Dave - Pat Cannon I'm sure is a safe bet for the 410's, John Westbrook once he settles down could be a good one.
What are your thought's on the whole track photographer vs. press photographer mess that is happening right now in local racing ?
CRAIG -Don't have a thought on that seeing how it was all a Bunch of Hog Wash.
MIKE - I don't have enough information on the subject to formulate an opinion....Sorry...
Mark - Pissing around with who has the "exclusive" right to push a button on a digital capture device only shows how backward thinking the old guard is. If hobbyists have better equipment than the "pros" - how can they claim with a straight face that they are protecting their investment? I have a recording studio in my basement with thousands of $ in equipment - used for fun and recreation only and it makes me laugh when a guy with a G4, a disc of pirated software and a $200 microphone starts talking about charging $ for their services!
track management should focus on:
A- prepare a quality racing surface
B- keep the grounds and facilities clean and presentable
C- eliminate down time, start time / end time
D- promotion in the local press
E- remember that they can't afford to pay for cool photos all over the internet but others will put them there free of charge.
Johnny - I have no clue what is going on. I know many years ago that the "track guys" didn't like people snapping victory lane shots.
Dave - Any picture taken and posted on a board, could possibly attract new fans, which is A good thing.
Is the racing as bad at Williams Grove Speedway this year as it seems on paper, or are the lower budget teams getting that much better ?
CRAIG - The lower budget teams are getting faster. With the implemented tire rule and the handicapping the playing field is leveled.
MIKE - The racing has been less than stellar but, the atmosphere is second to none...
Mark - Not sure how it looks on paper ($?), but it sure is tough to get to the front from 12th these days.
Johnny - I think it is a combination of teams evening out and the tire deal.The track surface is lending to some front row winning results too. It is probably good for racing.... but it is bad if your favorite is victimized a lot.
Dave - NO, the racing is fine, too many people only look at the feature for good or bad racing. The heats last couple of weeks in both 358' & 410's have been pretty wild, lots of passing and wild slide jobs just to get handicapped. However the heavy hitters have to race hard only to consistently start 10th 11th etc, while some teams good or bad play the game well to get a good starting position and pretty much winning from the first 2 rows.
There is a rumbling in the pits again about some teams complaining about the handicapping system. Should the local tracks change the format to suite those teams, or should they keep it the way it is so that lower budget teams still have a shot at making some good money with a win ?
CRAIG - If is isn't broke don't fix it.
Unhook the tractors and keep the handicapping the way it is...
Mark - I would have no problem with an extra TT show once a month at the tracks, but the regular format does provide for some hard racing in the heats which would otherwise be boring for the fans.
Johnny - I agree with handicapping with regard to money won. Again, I think the tire rule inhibits the starters in the rear. Some of the heats are also loaded with good cars and some are cakewalks for the back starters.... it varies .
Dave - I think #5 was answered in question #4, but what do I know. When you look at the point standings, you always scream the #2 point man starts in front of the #5. Makes you crazy trying to figure it out certain evenings.
What rule change do you think needs to happen to keep the sport moving forward?
CRAIG - Keep the one tire rule, but teams should be able to run whatever tire manufacture they choose as long as they fit Size and compounds set fourth in the rules.
MIKE - Remove the wings...They don't run in the rain so why have a roof on the Tractors?...
Mark - Get rid of the unspoken rule that our local rules must line up with the failing traveling series just because they need to race here 6 nights a year. They need 410 tracks to race on and our 410 scene is in better shape than parts unknown. If the health of 410 racing is to be judged from the "top" down - we could expect the local tracks to spend themselves into penny stock status right along side these fools.
Johnny - Bring back the big blocks.
Dave - Engine rules to lower the cost. Base our rules for our drivers, not a series that runs only runs 2-3 times a year.
If you where a promoter what would you do to make the experience better for the family that works all week and still wants to come to the races every week ?
CRAIG - I would add some Fan appreciation nights. I would also not charge admission to anyone under 16.
MIKE - Children under 12 and Dogs of all ages would be FREE!...
Mark - This will not please some folks, but the screwing around / wrecking associated with support divisions is not good for the image of 410 racing when you bring new folks to the track. Rough riding is also a concern. When i was a kid, the black flag was used several times a month to remind drivers that the "sport" needs sportsmanship to keep it a cut above a high speed demo derby. Get out the black flag and use it when a car is taken out. This is not a court of law...other sport officials call fouls and penalties all the time.
Johnny - I still think they have to do something to lure the younger fans into the tracks... solution.... I don't know. It is the same story in many other things right now!
Dave - Think of some family discounts to attract more family's to the races. Don't drag out shows all evening. Easier said then done I know.
Do you think the promoters in this area should join the rest of the country and switch from 358's to running 360's ?
CRAIG - Hell NO.... Again if it isn't broke don't fix it. Here in Pa we have a Very strong field of 358's 30 to 40 cars in the pits at two different tracks on the same night. I've heard that it costs almost as much to run a 360 as it does to run a 410 power plant wise. So no keep the 358's.
MIKE - No...Beer, Friends and 360's doesn't sound right...Not at all...
Mark - As a fan, a limited engine is a limited engine - pick a number and it is still a limited engine. Please get rid of those idiotic offset wings. If the rule is a smaller wing than the 410, you can at least line up the Damn side panels.
Johnny - 358's are just fine it seems.... There are plenty to go around.
Dave - I think we are just fine with 358's, the cost to buy new equipment would drive some out of racing id imagine.
With many of the top drivers not getting any younger, how long do do you think guys like Fred,Kieth ,Donnie, or Todd can keep going and winning at this level?
CRAIG - For awhile yet. Look at Jim Kennedy and Smokey Snellbaker those guys are older than dirt, but can still win races. They will be winning race as long as Body, and mind stay sharp.
MIKE - For as long as the desire is there, they will continue to win...
Mark - We have a fine group of active veterans these days..I am glad they are still interested in racing. In 5 years we may be saying the same things about 4 other guys.
Johnny - This is a good question. When i was a kid.... a 40 year old was an ancient driver. I think Johnny Grum,Mitch Smith, and Ed Spencer broke this myth. Smokey hes definitely showed that old boys can still compete at some level. I think KK is about done. Rahmer isn't far behind. The other two should be OK for a few more years. It all depends upon their success.
Dave - Experience will keep those drivers winning. When we start seeing some younger drivers win from rows 5 & 6 on a weekly bases, then we will have a changing of the guard. It hasn't happened yet.
Please pick your driver of the 1/2 year and why did you pick him?
CRAIG - Fred Rahmer, and not because I am a Die- Hard Rahmer fan. What can you say he is on a roll. He has 11 wins on the season. He's time trialling better than he ever has, has a lot of determination to win, and seems to be the only guy who can win from somewhere other than the First 3 rows.
MIKE - Fred "Freakin" Rahmer...I picked Him because He's Fred "Freakin" Rahmer!... Nuff said!...
Mark - Cannon - Park the 358 and prepare for the future of 410 racing.
Johnny - I have to stay with my driver .... I think Mark Smith is still one of the best out there. He needs a deal where he can relax and drive ....Zemco wasn't it.
Dave - My 358 driver, real easy Pat Cannon. 410 driver gotta go with Brian Leppo, he seems to be getting more consistent on driving from the back to get to the front.... See number 9...lol
I would like to say once again thank you to CRAIG, Mike,Mark,Johnny,and Dave for taking the time to speak with me this past week and sharing their thought's on the local racing scene.