Joined: 14 Aug 2007
|Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:08 am Post subject: Spartan as a yardstick
|I wanted to post this a few days ago, but couldn't since the board was down.
My wife and I like to watch racing. Mostly we go to Spartan and Springport, but we like to go to other tracks to see how things are done elsewhere, and to know something about other tracks when people talk about them. We've been to most of the tracks in southern Michigan, northern Ohio and northeast Indiana over the years. We haven't made it to Owosso yet, and I'm not sure why -- but there are not many others in a drive of two hours or so from home we haven't made it to.
The other day we were on our way back from the last race of the season at Auto City. It was a beautiful day, and the color was at its peak, which meant that we really were a little sad since it meant that we wouldn't be taking off to a track again for a while. We got talking about this track and that track. For example, one track has very nice restrooms but really lousy stands, another has great French fries and usually a pretty good car count, but is an absolute dump otherwise. As we talked, we found ourselves saying that such and such a place has better hamburgers than Spartan (no great trick), or another place doesn't move the show along as well as Spartan, or that another (in fact, most) tracks don't have stands as nice as Spartan's. And so on.
As we talked, I realized that we were using Spartan as a yardstick to compare other tracks. It's a pretty good yardstick. In fact, in but a few areas, from the viewpoint of fans in the stands we found Spartan in general to be superior to almost every other track we went to.
Granted, there are some things where Spartan doesn't measure up to things found elsewhere, but there are not many of them. In fact, I can only think of a few real gripes, and that's in comparison to elsewhere:
1. Rest rooms. Spartan's are on the borderline of being inadequate. They could be nicer, and there could be more of them. Lightening up the load on the one existing rest room that serves the stands might mean that they wouldn't get as messy as they do when they're used heavily, especially at special shows.
2. I mentioned the hamburgers. They're adequate, but not up to several places elsewhere. I'm not sure why -- it may be the fact that the patties are frozen, rather than made from fresh beef. The size is fine, but the taste is mediocre. Ditto the French fries.
3. Parking. The parking lot is actually better than many tracks, but if there's more than about twenty cars in the lot there seems to be a traffic jam getting out of the place. I have been to other tracks with less adequate parking lot exits that don't have this problem. At Auto City, for example, they had the stands pretty full with a destruction show, and with a less adequate exit than Spartan's there still was no traffic jam, even when we left in the middle of the crowd. The only thing I can think of to suggest about Spartan is that wider lanes might allow a left and right turn lane to develop. An alternative might be an exit onto Cedar Street.
If I thought about it, I could probably come up with a few minor things that are not really bad at Spartan, but that could be done better. For instance, like maybe taking out the lowest row of seats in a couple places in the grandstands and turning them into floors, to make more room for strollers and wheelchairs without blocking the aisles. But, that's a suggestion, not a gripe.
But really, all of those are relatively minor problems. There are so many other things I could point out where Spartan is the equal or superior to many if not most other tracks that I would probably bore everyone by recounting them. The stands are great, the sight lines are great, the management seems to be easy going and care about the customers, and the racing is usually pretty good. We've rarely had an evening when we came away disappointed, and those evenings were when the Late Models spent more time parading around under caution than they did actually racing.
It sure seems like a long time till spring, when my wife and I will be sitting in the stands at Spartan again, listening to Big Ed and the roar of the engines. I can't wait.
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