2008 Steve Graham Column
Monday August 11, 2008
Looks like September has 3 conflicting dates for speedway fans, which will likely water the fields down considerably. It's O.K. for the riders, as some get a choice where to ride and it's sort of O.K. for the promoters as most fans don't drive considerable distances to attend the races but it sucks for speedway fans, who don't get as much bang for their buck. In the long run, that probably doesn't serve speedway very well either as weakened fields won't keep everyone coming back and will attract fewer new fans.
Vallejo - Track Championship
Costa Mesa - Mission Motorsports Night
Auburn - Final Round of A.M.A. Championship
Costa Mesa - Freestyle MX (a great night to get new fans)
Ventura - Reunion and Legends Night
Costa Mesa - Milne Cup and Legends Night
Are there enough "legends" to go around?
I realize there is no way to avoid some scheduling conflicts but damned...like The Animal suggested a couple of weeks ago, can't some of this **** be sorted out in the spring?
Seems to me that this is something U.S.A. Speedway should take an acute interest in, as fewer conflicting dates provide stronger fields thus providing a better show which should bring more paying customers through the turnstiles. Getting on the same page wouldn't even cost U.S.A. Speedway any money, just some time and effort to mediate and sort out the schedule to maximize the entertainment value for all parties concerned. That would be good for speedway and, if there is any doubt, just look at the fields from July 18, when The Fair Derby collided with The North v. South. Weak fields in Auburn and Costa Mesa didn't show speedway's best face, by a longshot, on what should have been a premium night for both venues.
Rule books, point funds, certifying officials, dealing with the A.M.A. and dealing the America's stature on the world stage are all important functions of U.S.A. Speedway but, until everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction, we're just spinning our wheels and going nowhere fast.
I know this is all in vain but I just felt like sounding off tonight.
Current Score (tracks holding more than 1 event this year):
U.S.A. Speedway Tracks - 3 1/2 (CM does have an AMA round)
Auburn, Industry, Vallejo
Non-sanctioned Tracks - 7 1/2
Victorville, Perris, Ridgecrest, Ventura, Batavia, Greene, Owego
I don't know what it will take to get the U.S.A. Speedway banner flying at all these tracks (maybe a waiver for the lesser, financially strapped venues?) but this pissing match ain't helpin' nobody!
Jim, ever heard the expression "it's like herding cats"?
I have no clue what it will take but I do know that it would be really cool to see speedway's important dates run without conflict. There will always be conflicting dates, but the "big" nights should take center stage. Great shows keep the paying public coming back. Mediocre shows, not so much. It was a modern day miracle when Howie got Brad on board for the A.M.A.'s, and look how that turned out...freakin' spectacular speedway racing!
It would also be great to see the U.S.A. Speedway banner on the wall at Jason and Steve's tracks. I know that these guys, who are giving their best to keep speedway alive, aren't making beans from promoting and could hardly shoulder the expense of sanctioning fees and guaranteed purses. Hard work from these promoters and support from hardcore fans has helped keep these tracks viable and the return is that all these venues are finally attracting new fans and without new fans we are toast.
Maybe a little patience from U.S.A. Speedway, like forgoing financial requirements and just requiring these tracks to abide by the U.S.A. Speedway rule book for the time being, could pay dividends in the future.
As it stands right now, there is no mention of U.S.A. Speedway at any of these venues, all 6 of them. What would U.S.A. Speedway have to lose by sanctioning these tracks? There isn't any money coming in anyway.
A banner hanging at all those venues would certainly add credibility to U.S.A. Speedway (and the website http://www.usaspeedway.org/), as an organization, and to the tracks, by making the meetings much more professional by being sanctioned by a governing body.
Who knows what the answer is? For sure though, if we keep the status quo, eventually we will just fade away into the darkness and everyone who loves this sport will lose.
Currently we have 6 venues in California with regularly scheduled speedway racing
(Auburn, Costa Mesa, Industry Hills, Perris, Red Bluff and Victorville).
In two weeks we will have Billy Hamill's Gumball Rally, easily the funniest meeting of the year.
In three weeks there will be a one-off at Ridgecrest, which will make SEVEN tracks to stage a speedway race in California before June 1, 2008.
Season openers at Auburn, Costa Mesa and Industry Hills are right around the corner.
We have new promoters popping up everywhere in Steve Evans, Jeb Onweiler, Jeff Immediato, Bruce Penhall and John Cook.
Back East, it looks like JB has been rounding up all sorts of new sponsorship, which is always a good thing and can only help the Eastern racing scene. Now, if he could just land Nick Tahou as a sponsor.
And, it appears that this season we will be regularly treated to some racing featuring a former World Champ and a future World Champ. We sure haven't seen that in some time.
All-in-all, things aren't perfect but things could be, and have been, a whole lot worse.