My wife and I recently completed our first promotional venture, the T-Town Midget Showdown at Port City Raceway. Though there were many unexpected obstacles, between the coronavirus, rescheduling and weather, the event was an overall success.
My eyes were opened to just how many nuts and bolts there are to operating a race track, and I tip my hat to the people that run race tracks full time.
Our first hurdle was complying with coronavirus regulations. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of making changes was determining the actual specific regulations that applied to the race track, as some of the material given to businesses seemed to contradict itself.
Thankfully, state and local governments in Oklahoma used common sense, implied realistic regulations, made clarifications, and eventually even named race tracks specifically in their documents.
After studying our options, we decided to move the race back one week from its original date, and we also chose to limit spectator seating to 40 percent and put a limit on entries and pit passes.
Once all the adjustments were made, we could start focusing on making the race as successful as possible. Port City Raceway runs a very efficient program that normally includes seven classes. We would only have two classes, with just over 40 in each class, so we were confident we could have a great event in a timely manner.
One of the issues I didn’t consider much was parking. Even though the track averages more than 120 entries on a regular basis, the size of most of the tow rigs is much smaller than what the USAC teams utilize, but we managed to get everyone in.
The experienced staff at Port City Raceway and the officials with USAC were the backbone of the event. Mike and Megan Eubanks do a phenomenal job running the “front” of the operation at the track, while Mike Ross does an equally impressive job on the racing surface itself.
Having the peace of mind that all the details, from the concession stand to the qualifying procedures, were handled enabled us to focus on trying to make the race feel more like a true event.
Having the race track be as racy as possible was a top priority for myself for the event. I must thank Mike Ross for working with me and taking my suggestions so well. Being a part of the track prep made me realize how sensitive it can be. If you miss your window of watering by as little as 15 minutes, it could have a major impact on the competition.
Fortunately, and thanks in part to many improvements at the track, we were able overcome some weather on Friday and have a two-groove race track both nights.
I cannot imagine how difficult it would be for a promoter to have to handle all the track prep, as well as deal with everything else that goes into a track operation. I think Port City has a great system that enables them to divide and conquer.
After the major components were in place, my wife Xia Xianna and track announcer Ryan “Hoss” Merz were in charge of putting the icing on the cake, and did they ever do an amazing job.
Xia Xianna worked with Next Level Metal to create some amazing trophies, something I always thought was important to elevate the prestige of an event. We had great event merchandise, awesome banners, and fan giveaways.
They were able get lap sponsors for all 40 laps each night, as well as other bonuses which added over $10,000 to the total purse for the drivers. Hoss was also in charge of “post-race festivities,” and we all had a great time at the “Turn 5 Bar” after the races each night.
I do have to give a shameless plug to our primary sponsors, Werco Mfg. and B&H Contractors, who supported the event and encouraged us even through all of the changing circumstances.
As I expected, I now have a much greater respect for track promoters and operators. I am also thankful to have great friends like the Eubanks, and an awesome wife that is so incredibly good at what she does.
I am incredibly pleased with the results of our first race promotion, and we have already started planning for next year’s event to be bigger and better.