Mid morning on a rainy Saturday in Owego, New York, Shangri-La Speedway’s beloved and successful speedway promoter Dale Campfield, Robert Echo and myself are in the track office. We’re all about to leave for some lunch. Dale, always a cheery, well spoken gentleman says, “Oh! Hold on a second! I have to change the track answering machine.”
Dale pushes a couple of buttons and starts to speak, “Hello Racing fans! It’s going to be a gorgeous Saturday night of racing here at Shangri-La Speedway! The rain has stopped and the skies are clearing! So bring the family down to Shangri-La Speedway for a great time! Gates open at four pm, racing starts at seven!”
He clicked the machine and played the message back. Once he was assured it recorded perfectly, he set the answering machine in motion and said, “Okay fellas, let’s go get something to eat! I know a great place not far from here.”
This tactic wasn’t the least bit surprising back in the day. Damn near every facility office we had been to had similar practices. Some times it worked, as the rain ceased and track dried. Sometimes the answering machine was changed an hour or two prior to the gates opening as the rain continued to fall.
In the day and age of social media, weather apps and the world wide web at our finger tips, these practices are a thing of auto racing promotions past. The days of no-shows by drivers and teams listed on a series or track roster by way of paid entries, handshake or committing verbally with a promoter however, are still around and will always be a part of auto racing. Anyone who tells you otherwise is leaving out one key element, HISTORY. Not just open Modified show HISTORY.
Every, and I mean EVERY inaugural open Modified event that has started up in the last 10 years has struggled with no-shows. the Seekonk Speedway opens, the SBM125, the Tri Track Series and the latest, Gary Knight’s Modified Touring Series Winchester 200, which was held at Monadnock Speedway.
New events that are off the beaten path of sanctioning bodies and series start off with question marks. Once the teams, drivers and fans see that promoters and management teams are legit the shows grow spines and gather steam. The car counts climb and fan turnouts continue to rise with each season that follows.
The inaugural SBM125 had a car count in the teens and that car count and crowd grew over the following seasons. Seekonk Speedway’s yearly open Modified show, which is now part of the NorthEast Tri Track Open Modified Series, struggled with car counts in the early goings. The inaugural Tri Track Open Modified event at Lee USA Speedway, the Bullring Bash of 2014, had verbal commitments by teams from Long Island and the WMT and none were more disappointed when those teams pulled their no-shows than the series promoters and organizers themselves.
This years inaugural Modified Touring Series event, the Winchester 200, recently held at Monadnock Speedway, had a lesser car count than expected and hoped for. However, the promoters, sponsors and fans appreciated those teams putting their expensive machines on the line to support the event. Additionally, it’s safe to say the teams and drivers who competed were just as grateful for the purse and fan turn out. It’s appreciating the efforts and being positive to those that do support the event which helps the division as a whole.
These promoters work their hind-ends off to put up a great payout and an equally good show for the fans, yet they continue to walk into the same repetitive proverbial one monkey excrement fight at the zoo.
The latest shots started late last season when the NorthEast Race Cars TRI-TRACK Open Modified Series’ organizers were unjustly accused of purposely withholding information from the fans prior to an event at the Nutmeg State’s third mile New London-Waterford Speedbowl’s asphalt oval.. For one single no-show. One.
The accusations were directed at the NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series organizers and promoters by the same blogger who’s either absolutely terrible with auto racing history or purposely omitting facts of auto racing history to serve his own spiteful agenda.
They were accused of having prior knowledge a certain young talented driver, by the name of Tommy Barrett, Jr., was not showing up for the event. The accuser claimed series organizers and promoters knew a day or so prior to the event that the hot shoe wasn’t coming. So, in the accuser’s eyes, because the promotional team didn’t put out an all points bulletin or sound the alarms in order to inform fans one (a single, uno, unum, yes one..) driver wasn’t going to be in attendance, they falsely threw promoters under the bus by claiming the promoters purposely deceived fans and used misleading and dirty promotional tactics to do so.
These silly accusations towards the NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series were regurgitated by the same accuser while recently criticizing the advertised roster of the new Modified Touring Series’ big money “Winchester 200”.
In order to make any outrageous claims or accusations such as the aforementioned, the individual slinging said fecal matter would have to be extremely uneducated and oblivious with the inner workings of any series or speedway management and promotions. Thus they would equally have to be terribly lazy in basic fact finding questioning of speedway and series management. To put it mildly the one throwing the stones would have to be poor at paying attention to promotional procedures that have existed since motorsports began.
What about these no-shows? Just as in everyday life, drivers, owners, crew members and their machines experience issues forcing them to change plans. Some avoidable and some unavoidable. These issues and, in some cases, broken promises are guaranteed to happen. It’s a part of the sport. Decades upon decades of history shows that, but then again the same blogger would have to be educated on the history of the sport which as the same short history of the accuser would show, time and time again, they are not.
Rosters for open shows, series and speedways are normally, but not always, based off of pre-paid entries. Everyone involved in the sport is well aware tracks list rosters in their weekly programs, should they have one, and/or on their websites. These rosters are comprised of much the same procedure. A team applies for a license or fills a registration sheet and pays the fee. The teams and drivers are then added to the track or series roster. For some tracks and series it’s a word of mouth type deal. In some cases it’s a cross between paid entries, hand shakes and word of mouth. Usually, where tracks are concerned, as the season rolls along and the occasional newbie shows up to compete, their team and driver are added to the roster.
Everyone involved in the sport is well aware through the years there have been hundreds of scenarios preventing a driver with a paid entry or verbal commitment for an event to no show. In every instance when these scenarios unfolded..
Did the speedways or series promoters make announcements a day or two in advance stating any of these drivers wouldn’t be in attendance? No.
Were these tracks or series promoters expected to announce to the fans, in a short notice press release, of all the rumored or informed no-shows? No.
Were these tracks or series promoters accused of false advertisement? No.
Wouldn’t you think that a blogger who occupies the press box of speedway facilities using the very same procedures for decades would be knowledgeable of this information and refrain from spewing such digital media nonsense?
It’s NOT the responsibility of the track, series or promoters in that short of notice..
Just like the fans, the promoters of not just series, but every short track facility across the country hold out hope. Promoters and fans always hope maybe, just maybe a contending team on their roster might show up to their Saturday event after said team wrecked hard on Friday night. The same hope is held out for a driver who is yet to be cleared by a doctor to compete after being injured during the work week or the past race weekend.
In this case, for the accuser, was it honestly so hard to fathom the promoters were holding out hope that the matters concerning the the potential no-show would be resolved prior to race day and thus would allow the one single driver to compete. It would seem so. But based on the blogger’s history of opinionated write-ups and “news reports” on Open Modified shows, it’s highly doubtful and more so would fall under another smear campaign.
It was just far too tasty a morsel for the mud-slinger to pass up an opportunity to drag out the same horse’s rotted corpse and commencing with another round of swings. It was far too easy leaving out obvious long standing key facts of speedway and series management and promotions that have existed since the sports humble beginnings.
It’s not surprising in the least given it’s just another baseless shot against the same series and open shows by the accuser over the years.
How about this..
A day or two prior to a short track racing event, name the last time you have heard any series or speedway PR camp making an announcement (via short notice press release, website, social media post or even radio for that matter) with a list of those on the advertised rosters who are rumored or known to NOT be competing..
That’s right!.. It has hardly EVER happened in the past and for that reason IT SHOULDN’T BE EXPECTED in the future.
In that time frame / short notice, the event staff have a race day to prepare for. It’s called WORK and PREPARATION (Something the accuser has chosen to forget in terms of the sport’s history). In these days of social media leave those late announcements to the media and the teams themselves to inform fans. With a couple days left for the show, it’s NOT the track, series management nor the promoter’s responsibility. Heck, back in the day, you only found out by showing up to the track or hearing prior through the grape-vine or rumors.
How about the basic subject by the blogger that promoters purposely mislead the fans? Why is it these accusations are only focused on the Open Modified event promoters? I think we all know the answer. Otherwise, the fecal-slinger would have to throw a tandem load of accusations towards the Northeast speedways and series who list and advertise 2016 Rosters on their sites and have plenty of weekly no-shows, including some facilities and series he himself attend or cover on site.
- Valenti Modified Racing Series
- NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
- Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, NH)
- Lee USA Speedway (Lee, NH)
- Star Speedway (Epping, NH)
- Riverhead Raceway (Riverhead, Long Island, NY)
- Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, CT)
Prime example: Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2016 SK Modified Roster alone lists over 50 SK Modified entries.
How many of these drivers and teams have shown up each week to compete? Certainly not the 50 plus listed.
Does the speedway make a prior announcement as to the rumored or known no-shows?
Does this mean Stafford’s Management and Promotional team are deceiving, being misleading or pulling one over on the fans?
Of course not!
It’s preposterous for a veteran member of the media (and I use that term loosely in this case) to believe it’s the track, series, organizers or promoters responsibility to inform in that short of notice. Thus accusations of any misleading by the open Modified event staff is equally as preposterous.
Oh, but damn those evil dirty pool playing Open Modified show promoters!.. Pffffft! Absolute nonsense!
Misleading?.. It sure seems like it, but not from track, series or event organizers and promoters. Then again, by somewhat using a variation of the line the aforementioned blogger is well known for in his many rantings and comments, why let the simple facts of the long standing history of our sports management and promotional side get in the way of a good smear story, right?
Disregard the fecal-slinging-monkey and his repetitive smear campaign. Celebrate the fact promoters like Jim Schaefer, Dick Williams and staff, the team at Seekonk Speedway and the latest gentleman to throw his hat in the ring, Gary Knight and staff, are working their hind-ends off to put on high-dollar pay-out shows for you, the fans, that they themselves as fans want to see.
Modified fans from all over give their hard earned money to not only attend but support the event with sponsorship and lap money. Businesses sponsor not only the racing events themselves, but awards and laps. The money taken in by most of the open shows go directly to the teams and drivers competing. Other than paying for costs of being part of the racing program almost every darn dollar goes back to those who have shown up to put their expensive equipment and lives on the line to compete.
The open shows are nothing, but POSITIVE for the asphalt Modifieds. These folks should be applauded for sticking their necks out on the line for the Modified racing division’s benefit. What should be praised are the teams that show up to compete, fans that show up to support and enjoy the events, staff and speedways that put on the events and media who show up to cover and report on them.
*Rendered photo published prior in a 1981 Speedway Scene issue by Vin Hilliard.