USAC Racing Forum

General Chat => Point .25 => Topic started by: odogracing on May 18, 2010, 09:08:06 PM

Title: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: odogracing on May 18, 2010, 09:08:06 PM
What are your thoughts on the growth of our sport?  I personally have some concerns that more folks are moving on then entering the sport?  I beleieve there are alot of contributing factors to this.  I think O'Bama is trying to enforce gun control and band Quarter Midget racing!  No, not really.  But it does appear families are not joining at the same rate as those moving on.  How is your area?  Just food for though?  I may be way off base?

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: clouse55 on May 18, 2010, 10:38:10 PM
I dont think your way off base at all. There are quite a few things that are causing this (at least around here)

Economy  Here in the midwest so much is automotive based, and we all know how that is, just ask anyone from around the Kokomo IN area

Competition from other sports  It used to be basketball started in Oct. over in Feb. or Mar. now if you want to play your conditioning, practicing, playing all year long. Also with some of the school financials its went to a pay to play deal which can make families choose where to spend money

Competition from other forms of racing  Its endless what else is out there and all want a piece of the youth motorsports market.

I dont want to turn this thread political but since you mentioned the "O" word. We all need to keep are eyes open and be aware of stupid writing in bills that have been passed and are being wrote that will have a larger impact on quarter midget racing than anything else.       

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: CrewChief6 on May 19, 2010, 08:10:26 AM
Bottom line is the economy. The unemployment rate is at the highest level it has been in decades. Many people are out of work, are struggling, or are afraid of losing their jobs.

This sport takes a large initial investment: At least a couple of thousand to get into a car, and thousands more if you want to be competitive. And that's not counting investments on a trailer, transportation, traveling. Then the annual costs of keeping a team going. Tires suck up a lot of the budget. And if your family is not already into motorsports, it's a huge commitment, both financially as well as psychologically.

Many folks up north are lucky. You have several tracks within a relatively short distance of each other. Some of us, like here in Florida, have to drive hundreds of miles to get to quarter midget tracks. (Currently we have two in the state: Tampa and New Smyrna).

It's sad we're hemorrhaging QM teams, but until the economy improves, it probably won't get any better. The best we can do right now is to hype up the sport, get the word out and encourage more kids to join us. Bring your friends. Contact the local media outlets. Go on Facebook.

I think USAC is doing a lot to promote our .25 racing. Webcasts are great. Now can we just get ESPN2 to televise the Disney race instead of them showing the most boring ATV ice racing or curling? After watching several different types of motorsports, I think quarter midget racing is one of the most exciting. Come on SpeedTV!?!

And maybe having the karting movie that comes out this weekend might help hype motorsports in general. Looks like a good film:

My two cents.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: ezoner on May 19, 2010, 08:39:49 AM
You are all correct -- economy, economy, economy.  I think government regulation, capntrade, etc... are potential concerns and threats. 

The real question is what can local orgs and USAC do to help.  I like the idea of Novice cars being offered.  The drivers just show up and race.  That is one idea.  The family could purchase the car after graduation. 

Another idea would be that all cars are owned by the lochal tracks and you pay a membership fee that covers the maintenance etc.. of the car.  There are challenges and issues with that as well. 

What I am driving at is cost reduction to increase the pool of possible members given the current economic conditions.  These are just ideas and I am certain there are many more out there.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: clouse55 on May 19, 2010, 09:08:03 AM
Something on this mornings news that could have a large impact for some. The Obama administration wants to take away our "charitable donation" deduction on our federal income tax. Where this hurts is the clubs that might be recieving ground or facilities "rent free" and the donator deducts value on his or her taxes.
This could add greatly to the financial burden of the clubs.


Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: odogracing on May 19, 2010, 10:54:37 AM
Speed TV.  That's a great idea.  I know the Host of Truck U pretty well.  Hmmm???

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: two_tenths_off on May 19, 2010, 01:54:17 PM
I agree the economy is likely partially to blame.

We physically grew out of the Quarter Midget and have had a really complete package ideal for a Novice just languish on the market since November.

We are now racing a Bandolero just to get acquainted to a 1/3 mile track. They get just under 20 of these out (ages 8-15).

The cost of the QM in Sr. Honda was quite low compared to a Bando which still makes QM's the affordable choice for youth racing. The ongoing costs of our QM racing was really only about $300 or so per race for primarily right side tires, gas, oil.

I was wondering if interest is down since the car has not been snapped up yet. Also of interest, fortunately we never witnessed a racing injury yet my son had two Soccer teammates with fractures last year (wrists).

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: wesracing on May 19, 2010, 03:00:47 PM
Not to go against what has been said here but Kokomo actually has a pretty good rookie count, 5 senior rookies and 12 junior rookies. I feel this is a great addition to our club and did not at all expect this kind of rookie class this year. Our car count at Kokomo is about the same as last year though because we had several kids move on to jr. sprints and 600's. We are getting close to 50 cars at our club races.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: ezoner on May 19, 2010, 04:35:58 PM
Two Tenths -- I look at QM racing as the starting point.  So I would expect the barriers to entry to be low.  Meaning -- if I need to buy a car, a trailer, a racing suit, a helmet, etc.... I lay out between $3k-$7k to do nothing but let my kid try the sport.  If they don't like it, I need to try to recover as much as possible.

If a track were to set up the rookies.  Make the barrier to entry low, train the handlers (not all are in racing today) you expand the pool of potential members.  As they learn (driver and handler) they can now plan for the cost (and the investment of time) and will be ready in time to move up.  I feel that retentions would be better, there would be more families trying the sport out, and memberships would increase.

The problem is existing members would need to be dedicated to supporting this, because thats where the support would come from to prepare the cars for each race.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: two_tenths_off on May 19, 2010, 05:17:34 PM
This is an interesting topic - providing cars for the Novices....

I certainly found ownership usefull in enforcing the "don't break your stuff" concept.

I think it had some impact on my son to see the repurcussions of breaking the car. He had
to look at it in the garage, listen to me moan about writing checks and then hope that I could get it all back together before the next race and get it right!

He rarely bent anything.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: CrewChief6 on May 19, 2010, 05:47:55 PM

I agree: if the entry barrier is low, yes, it will be more enticing for families.
And I definitely second the part about training the handlers. That was the most frustrating part for us, having zero background in racing.

Some clubs offer a rental program, which I think is great. But I think teams can do that on an individual basis too, especially if you have cars you haven't been able to sell, like in my case.

I'm actually going to rent out one of our extra cars to a family who wants to get started. That team will pay a monthly fee plus take care of parts replacements. If they want to keep the car, whatever they pay goes toward the car. It might be risky, but I'd rather see the car on the track than in the garage collecting dust.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: two_tenths_off on May 19, 2010, 06:30:56 PM
What are the Liability issues involved in renting the car out?

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: CrewChief6 on May 19, 2010, 06:34:51 PM
I guess I'll find out!

Biggest liability, I would imagine, is that you might not see your car again. But you can get a contract written up with the details (deposit, monthly costs, rent-to-own details, parts replacement) and that should be binding.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: two_tenths_off on May 19, 2010, 06:47:37 PM
What I was concerned about was eliminating their ability to seek damages if something went wrong.  *You* reducing *Your* liability for allowing them to participate in a dangerous activity in *Your* car when there are factor you can and cannot control.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: CrewChief6 on May 19, 2010, 06:49:27 PM
Aha. Good point. I guess I'll have to write that up in the contract. Thanks!

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: two_tenths_off on May 19, 2010, 07:07:05 PM
Also good points about the commitment required for the handler. This sport is much different then taking your kid to Soccer pratice and then watching him run around on Saturday morning while sipping a Latte!

It takes a real commitment from the Parent/Handler to take on owning/maintaining/tweaking and tuning a race car. So there are some that step up to this commitment for the kids and then there are many who relish this and the kid does it for them ;) or some happy medium in between!

In our case we both enjoyed the challenge. Admittedly my son drives better than I setup the car and we never got up front - but did enjoy some mid pack runs against better funded and better skilled competition.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: ezoner on May 21, 2010, 09:44:19 AM
Two - Tenths

I agree -- my daughter helps work on the car.  Not only does that teach responsibility and commitment, but her grades are better in math and sciences...... went from B's to A's.  I explain what i am doing and she asks questions.  It takes longer, but well worth the time.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: Kendall42 on May 21, 2010, 11:57:54 PM
The economy has a lot to do with it...but the decline has been going on due to many factors.  Our local dirt track started a "Hornet" class that kids can start racing at 12 years old.  There are other options for kids to race...more so then ever before. (someone has mentioned this as well)

However, on a positive note...our club has more rookies this year then in any of the last 5 years!  We also had the largest turn out for our test drive this spring then we have ever had!  So with the economy coming back and promoting the sport...we can gain a lot.  We have only had 2-3 rookies tops each of the last 5 years.  This year we have 5 Jr. Rookies...that is awesome.

A big part of the downfall is the lack of promotion of the sport.  We started in QM racing way late (11 years old) because I did not know such a thing existed around my area, even though I was racing dirt cars in the area.  USAC is helping with the promotion and our club pushed the Test Drive very hard and it paid off! 

I think the economy is returning.  If we as clubs continue to promote and USAC continues to promote...the sport will recover and thrive again over the next few years.  Too bad it is our last year!  And my last year as the Rookie Director. 

Brad Kendall
Rookie Director

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: RBurns17 on May 22, 2010, 06:39:10 AM
While I think the economy will turn away some possible members but I think that it's more of a marketing thing. I would say that 70% of the people I know from places other than local tracks don't know what quarter midget racing is and are oblivious to the fact we have a track in Kokomo.

What I see is that most of the spectators at the tracks are family. I think when a track can move away from that and bring in a lot of outside spectators that have no connection to the sport other than enjoying it they will improve their car count drastically. Our track has saw this over the last offseason. We had a lot of new members who didn't really know anyone from the track but just loved watching and decided they wanted to give it a try.

I think locally you can bring in the spectators with someone dedicated at marketing the track. A press release is your best friend. I would find someone who knew how to write and have them cover the track weekly and submit it to every paper and racing publication possible. Papers love this because it's something that can fill their paper that they didn't have to pay for.

USAC bringing the webcast into the sport is huge. I think that with youstream and youtube and all the other media applications this can be done on a local scale with enough effort. Another interesting thing I saw was that the Speedrome does a show on HSCI that's just a quarterly season recap where they have two guys talking about all the things going on and showing clips of the action thus far in the season. Another thing that I see a lot of tracks skipping, see it locally also, is results. If I miss a race I find it almost impossible to find out who finished where. A lot of times have to wait until the points come out and then it's not the easiest thing to look at. Being from the sport I can get through them pretty quick but some people who don't know what the point values are for each position it can get pretty tough.

So while the economy hurts the sport I personally think it can be overcome with enough effort and spectacle. The sport is plenty exciting, people just need to see it to appreciate it. I am surprised that a lot of clubs don't have a marketing director/social media manager. Twitter and Facebook are huge for motorsports because they're essentially free marketing that can be real time on raceday and exciting if done right.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: lawsonracing on May 22, 2010, 04:35:09 PM
I would  say the economy does take its toll on some, but it amazes me seeing half a million dollar haulers in the parking lot at the tracks, people buying out others ( to help them with their kids) and those that have a 3-5 members as a crew team, this is not the sport like it use to be for the middle class, its what some of my racing friends( I formely use to drivr short track, legends, pro trucks)  call wallet racing.   

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: RBurns17 on May 22, 2010, 06:42:01 PM
Wallet racing or not it should be the smaller teams goal to prove to them racing isn't about money. We raced on a budget last season and picked up a lot of wins. If a team isn't willing to put in the extra work to offset the lack of budget then racing isn't for them.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: lawsonracing on May 22, 2010, 07:16:41 PM
I agree, pretty trailers do not get it done on the track ! There are alot of teams that are great out there on a budget. Not complaining, just observation. Back to the subject, it does cost to get in to this type of racing. I also think that there should be something provided to under previlaged  kids, some how.. 

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: RBurns17 on May 22, 2010, 09:27:34 PM
I've wanted to get something going for kids who would not otherwise had the opportunity but it's tough. The attendance numbers just aren't there for sponsors to give heavy support to teams. I think when people can get big sponsors on board to help make it happen you will see a lot of teams with drivers that aren't family or anything.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: 57racer on May 25, 2010, 09:55:45 AM
One thing I have noticed is the low car counts in the half class. Older and larger kids move to 600 mini sprints instead of to half class. When that happens and they have a younger bro. or sis. they might run a jr. sprint instead of a quarter midget. Is there anyting we can do to make the half class more atractive so the familes will want to stay with the quarter midgets?
Rick Walker
Rookie Director KQMC

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: RBurns17 on May 25, 2010, 12:12:05 PM
It's a tough cycle to break. Without a bigger car count it's almost impossible to bring in new teams. We had a drag racer interested in doing a half part time but there were no other cars to race against and it's hard to commit to fielding an extra car in the hopes that a couple more teams will make the move also.

It's not really fair to the other classes but one possible way would be to find out some extra incentive to bring to the table. It would be neat to do an endurance race or something that is exclusive to that class. I don't know how the logistics would work on something like that but judging from how many people come over to run the Wiley I think it could attract some members to the division.

Another way would be to try and attract a title sponsor to that division and offer a nice savings bond or scholarship to the top three in points. Or find a paper that would profile that division for a season or something. That would draw members hoping to get some publicity but at the same time it would help keep the division going by giving it publicity.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: RBurns17 on May 25, 2010, 12:19:51 PM
I'm not sure how effective these things would be but they kind of drive home the fact that while you want every division to be important your older division should be the premier. The creates a ladder system that makes families stay longer to reach the top of the sport.

I know that the vibe I get is that at our track Sr.Honda is the premier division and rightfully so with 15+ cars every weekend. But the problem that creates is that a kid comes in and at 11 or 12 they've had their fill of that class. You get a possible 5 or 6 years in Sr.Honda and the cars don't get any faster. And usually after a year or two most teams sink or swim or even feel that they've learned everything they can from the division and decide to move on to something faster and more populated.

I'm a firm believer that publicity and opportunity will sway any team more than money will. So I think that providing publicity would be the first step. And I think development is the next thing people are going to worry about. So maybe if the track could hook up with a Focus team or something and offer a race or two in their car to whoever wins the championship you'd be able to get a lot of people to jump over and try it out.

Title: Re: Thoughts on this issue????
Post by: racemom2000 on May 25, 2010, 04:31:24 PM
I just typed a huge post and lost it, so this will be the condensed (Readers Digest) version.....

1.  Everyone here knows what it takes financially, physically, and psychologically to get started. But try explaining those things to families moderately interested in racing QM's, and often their eyes gloss over & you've lost them mid-sentence while telling them about initial start up costs. We've met quite a few kids interested in QM's, but 1) the initial & ongoing investment was too high, and/or 2) they're scared to make the initial investment to find out 6 weeks later that little Johnny or Mary isn't so hot-to-trot on racing after all.

2.  If tracks had programs like Lyra mentioned, something like that could go a long way for attracting new families. Lots of disclaimers and legal jargon would be a necessity, of course, but such a program could potentially be very fruitful.

3.  More tracks. The midwestern drivers really have an advantage on this one. When we bought our second racecar from a family in Ohio, my husband was googly-eyed to discover the family had like 3 race tracks close to their disposal. That would be heaven on earth for us here in the South. Our home track is 46 miles away. The next closest - New Smyrna (but we're not QMA members) - is 177 miles.

4. Publicity. Marketing. A little air time on ESPN/ESPN2/Speed could go a long way. Didn't the world of NASCAR completely change once it got regular air time on TV, and when big time sponsors entered the sport? That's what we need! And my gosh, have you ever searched for books on quarter midget racing? They're virtually non-existant besides Steve Smith's single QM Chassis Tech book, and a few self-published yet dated ventures. The sport needs books, magazine articles, big-time sponsors for drivers, air time on TV and radio. Ads. Ads. Ads. A documentary airing on ESPN/Speed showcasing famous drivers who got their start in QM's or Midgets? Nascar drivers who have built tracks (Burton/Labonte), paving the way for the next generation of drivers? A documentary following the progress of several drivers throughout an entire season?

Maybe someone with USAC pull could get that RaceChef dude on Speed to come tape one of his shows during a National USAC event? Or a national syndicate for a little air time? I'm sure there's a lot that could be done for exposure. It would just takes some brainstorming and a little grass roots bit of hitting the pavement.