Racingkc.com Editorial THANK YOU RACE FANS! THANK YOU RACE CAR DRIVERS! THANK YOU, MOTHER NATURE! Fan Appreciation Night at I-35 Speedway was a HUGE Success! There will be another Fan Appreciation Night on the May 2020 Schedule! Could there be another Fan Appreciation Night yet this year….hmm? This paragraph has been part of the Behind the Scenes I write for I-35 Speedway and part of a press release. Let’s add two more people to the THANK YOU list, Mike and Kyle Johnson! What a great promotion!
Will it work? Great question? What if we have bad weather will it work? It takes guts to be a promoter/track owner operator and make some of the calls that must be made! Diana and I drove through rain starting in Smithville to mile marker 50. Nothing from mile marker 50 through 55 and then a heavy mist until mile marker 63! Temperature on truck showed 52 degrees the entire trip to the track. Will it work? Great question? What if we have bad weather will it work?
At 4:30 we had trash barrels out, gates open, grill borrowed from Pit Stop Catering set and ready to cook burgers and hot dogs, and surprisingly a parking lot with race fans bundled and ready for racing! At 5:00 the call came to fire up the grill and start cooking. At this point we had more fans than racers. By 5:30 the grill duties were handed off and the pits were starting to fill, by race time we had 90 cars in the pits.
By the time the 6:00 driver’s meeting was complete finding a seat in the grandstands was getting to be a premium. At 6:20 the first set of hot laps took the track, thanks to the sun the top had become crusty, we hoped to blow off the top layer of dust and seal the track, no such luck. Bring out the water wagon, unfortunately knowing we would experience a delay. The Isaac brothers thanked me for us trying to blow off the dust but looking at the crowd stated we were making the right decision. The drivers were excited to race in front of a large crowd.
Heading to the tower, I pass a very familiar pretty lady and we both spun and came back to each other for a hug. Our former neighbor from our Village of Oakview days was in attendance. I took her in the office to see Diana. She made a statement being at I-35 Speedway reminded her of the old Riverside Days! Lots of fans, lots of excitement, and lots of fun. The racing on the track, simply outstanding, side by side, three and four wide, close finishes, we had it all. Watching sections of the crowd jump up and wave on their favorite drivers, awesome!
This brings me back to the promoters. Last year they introduced 18 and under Free, tried it for one night and introduced it for the year. Had the Daviess County Sheriff stop by and thank them because it gave the kids something to do on a Saturday night other than get into mischievous trouble. Innovative, yes, and something to get our youth back into our sport.
Four years ago, they added a KCBS Barbeque contest to the schedule. Win this event and qualify for the American Royal Barbeque contest. This year they are adding concerts with racing! Constantly promoting their track!
Then last week, letting everyone in Free to the grandstands, pictures and social media reported the success of the promotion. Great job of Promotion! Many of those fans will be back, maybe not weekly but they will be back! We have been blessed in this area with great promoters, Larry Kaster, Clyde Ellis, and Marc Olson, to name a few, isn’t it time we consider Mike and Kyle Johnson in that group? Will it work? Great question? What if we have bad weather will it work? It takes guts to be a promoter/track owner operator and make some of the calls that must be made!
Before I close let me add, is there a lesson to be learned here for the larger tracks, for NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation, and Speedway Motorsports? An empty seat makes you no money! The old ways of promotion are not working when you see the empty seats on television. Race fans are out there, they can’t afford to take their families to the tracks, the reason many are two wage earner families. Bring the youth back, let them in free, give families a chance to bring their families to the track, let the youth meet the drivers their heroes, guess what next week they are watching them on television and telling their friends Hey I met that guy Bowyer. Remember being a child and meeting your hero? We must get them there first!
Maybe some of these large track owners should call up the Johnsons’ get their opinions, learn what is being done on the grass roots level. Will it work? Great question? What if we have bad weather will it work? It takes guts to be a promoter/track owner operator and make some of the calls that must be made!