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The Rain Out

The Rain Out

by May 19, 2013 0 comments

All sports have to contend with the rainout but I think it’s especially tough on the local stock car racing community.  Football, baseball and soccer all continue to play with a certain amount of rain.  Sports car and most open wheel series will also race rain or shine but stock cars don’t do well at all in wet conditions.

NASCAR has it’s jet dryers and thousands of dollars to spend on fuel.  They have even spent several million on developing the new AirTitan system that is supposed to cut hours off the trying process.  Local tracks on the other hand are at the mercy of the elements.  Their drying procedure is usually driving safety vehicles around and around the track.  They will sometimes be joined by race cars who can speed up the process a bit but it will can take an hour or more.  All that driving adds up to a lot of money in fuel for both the track and the racers.  The racers will gladly do it so they can race, that’s how dedicated they are to the sport.

Most local tracks lack much in the way of cover for the grandstands so rain can have a huge effect on the fan turnout.  Some diehards will stay no matter what and sit in the stands with umbrellas but most will head to their cars and wait a few minutes before giving up and going back home.  A day that threatens rain will keep fan at home all together.  Fans who leave or who never make it to the track have a huge effect on a tracks bottom line.

Local tracks depend heavily on the fans who come out, pay admission and spend their hard earned money at concession stands.  A rainy day can put a track owner in the hole quickly.  It can be even harder on the racers.  Local racers usually don’t have deep pocketed sponsors like NASCAR drivers.  Entry fees, race tires, pit passes for team members, gas for the hauler and even food for the crew all come out of the car owners wallet.  A trip to the track with no race cost the same as a trip with a fully run race.  While prize money rarely comes close to what is spent on the average race day it does help some and exposure for current sponsors plus the possibility of attracting new ones makes not running the race potentially catastrophic.

Canceling a race once teams and fans get to the track is never an easy decision.  Most track have computers with access to weather radar in the tower.  Track staff will often gather around the screen for intense discussion on the direction and timing of storms.  Every effort is made to try and find a way to get that race run.  Once canceled it creates a whole series of new problems.  Fans either need to be refunded admission or allowed to use their tickets at the next race.  The same goes for drivers and crews.  Concessions of for tires that have been bought have to be made by impounding them or issues refunds or tire credits.

A rainout can quickly turn a great day a the track into a nightmare for everyone involved.  I was in the tower at the Dillon Motor Speedway for the UARA Stars Positive Quality Trailers 150 this past weekend and it was almost heartbreaking.  There was a great field of Late Models there ready to do battle.  The top 10 had qualified within 2/10 of each other and included drivers like Garrett Campbell, Travis Swaim, Devin Jones, Ronnie Bassett Jr. and Scott Turlington.  It was shaping up to be a truly fantastic night of short track racing.

When all is said and done the fans and teams will be at the track next Saturday night for another try.  This is local short track Saturday night racing and it’s the best kind of stock car racing there is.

Christopher Neal
Christopher is a happily married father of 3 very active boys. He is a full time law enforcement officer and part time web designer. Chris is currently the chief editor of TheFourthTurn.com as well as has personal blog TheDadsPlace.com

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