Joined: 31 Jul 2006
|Posted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:35 pm Post subject: No SLM at Spartan in 2014
|So Jim didn't make this decision overnight. It has been debated over and over again for the last 10 years. I can't tell you how many times during a Spartan staff meeting that this has been discussed. The question was asked to Jim through an e-mail and when he answered it, he felt that this statement may help a lot of people understand his decision, and where it came from. Most everybody wants to ask him the question, so here is the statement he gave.
Question: I was looking over the schedule and noticed there were no scheduled shows for the Super Late Models.This is highly dissappointing because that is why I love your track so much and I was wondering what that reason might be?
Answer: Thanks for the email. Your question has a long answer but I am going to try to give you the short version.
There are just not enough cars to draw from and there are several reason why, at least in my opinion.
When I was much younger we would have 25 to 30 Supers every night, around the mid-eighties and earlier. All the tracks that ran Supers had two to three times the car counts that they have now, and the numbers are still slowly dwindling, at least as far as a weekly or bi-weekly Super division is concerned.
When I look at what happened to all of the cars there are a few common denominator's (again my opinion) which are:
1. Aging driver base, there are very few people entering the Super division for weekly short track racing venues, maybe they are in traveling specialty shows where they can get paid what they deserve but I don't know if that is so. We have lost some drivers because of the expense, some because they got old and tired of the demands, some can't afford to field a Super, some don't want to race with 10-12 cars and in Spartan's case two of our very high profile drivers passed. Another reason is Spartan is a bull ring and there is a perception that if you race Spartan you may take your car home in a bushel basket. Not true but sometimes perception becomes reality, especially if it repeated enough times.
2. The cost to field a Super relevant to what most tracks can pay them doesn't match up, then the obvious question is why don't we pay them more? The answer is that we would need to generate more revenue at the front and back gate to keep the doors open.
3. When Late Models were in their glory they had wet sump motors, less expensive tires, suspension parts were plentiful and affordable, etc. Today Supers have dry sumps, elaborate aluminum heads, very expensive and complicated suspension set ups and so on. Basically the sky is the limit as to what you can spend, and spend they do. To be in the Super business now you need to be very committed and prepared to spend a lot of money or have a sponsor willing to do so for a long period of time.
4. Society has also changed. We don't have near as many die hard race fans as we did in the glory days, people like yourself. It has been a subtle change but looking at then and now it seems quite obvious. Any seminar that we have ever attended drilled one thing into our thick skulls and that is "if you operate a race track you may think you are in the racing business but you will realize sooner or later that you are in the entertainment business. The proof of that wisdom is obvious on our demolition nights. The stands are packed! Last season we set a record attendance for Spartan on one of our School Bus nights. These are not usual race fans, they are people wanting to spend their money to be entertained.
All that being said please take a hard look at our Spartan Stock A division. This division is primarily made up of older Late Model chassis that were a little out dated and no longer competitive in the Super division. The driver/owner will spend about 30% of what it cost to field a good Super. Ironically enough they are basically what Supers were back in the glory days. The drivers are reasonably happy and that is a big deal. We can afford to pay them adequately, relevant to their investment and we only need modest increases at the two gates. The number of these cars are growing.
By the way we do offer a Sprint division that continues to pick up steam and is scheduled 10 times next season. Our Modifieds will be pretty strong this season as well with 10 shows, three of them extended laps. We are always proud of the Ponies. They are not the Lates you asked about but they are very entertaining (that word again) and there are a lot of them.
Another approach Spartan has taken is to purchased the Michigan Legends franchise from John Turnbull last season. These are very affordable specialty built cars built in Charlotte NC, that are recognized Internationally which makes them easier to sell if you want out.
Also because there are so few (if any) young people entering the sport we started the Bandolero division for the ages 8-14. This is new program that allows Corps or businesses to lease a car for a young person. They will have 20 races scheduled in 2014. Right now we have 5 leased and we are getting ready to go pick up 6 more. Hopefully we can hold onto these kids once they transition out of the Bando division.
The good news is there are still plenty of excellent Super Late Model shows around but they require some travel, but usually worth it.
There is the short answer. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.