SULLIVAN: Weekly Racing

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In my opinion, what Joe did was brilliant. The fireworks were spectacular, and at the end of the night people had a great time. Most importantly, some of those on hand are going to come back.

I didn’t ask Joe if he made a dime on free admission night, that’s none of my business, but it was plain to me that he was happy with all that transpired.

To reiterate, the effort extended here was really not about this night, it was far more about the nights that followed.

What is even more to the point is the fact that Spiker not only did something different, he did something completely counterintuitive. We need more of this kind of thinking.

At Paragon, one of the traditional races is the Chuck Amati Classic. Jordan Kinser took this year’s race, once again a 68-lap affair. It was thoroughly entertaining.

In our wide-ranging conversation, Tom Schmeh and I discussed the days of the Eldora 500. It begs the question: Why not throw in an occasional 100 lap race, with a completely different format to mix things up? We need to do something to give the sport a jolt.

Einstein once said that we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. It is a comment that is relevant here. At some point, if we are interested in saving weekly racing, everything has to be on the table for review.

Weekly racing is also critical to drivers and teams. Dave Darland became Dave Darland by racing at Kokomo, Lincoln Park and Bloomington. Sammy Swindell raced at West Memphis. Steve Kinser began in southern Indiana.

You just don’t decide to start racing and sign in with the World of Outlaws. The same goes for owners, mechanics, and racing officials. It is where you learn the skills necessary to progress in the sport.

When drivers and teams begin to enjoy success at their local track, the next step is to branch out. If that same driver then becomes a regular with a travelling series, they bring their fans along too. Why do we see the indefatigable Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles at short track events all summer long?

One answer is that he is a true fan. Beyond that, the business side of Doug realizes that he must consistently underscore that there is a vital connection between what happens at Terre Haute, Kokomo, Rushville, Knoxville, and Williams Grove and the events he stages at his two-and-a-half-mile oval.

When we use the term grassroots racing, for some it is a designation that suggests where such events reside in the sport’s hierarchy. It turns out it is a more powerful term than that. If you sever the root of any living plant, that plant is soon to perish.

For racing to be a relevant enterprise, weekly racing programs must survive and thrive.

 

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