HEDGER: The Long Look
Another promoter who has found a niche is Brett Deyo, a young organizer of special events around the region who focuses on what he calls the “working man” racer. The touring pros are welcome, but Deyo’s purses, heavily supported by dozens of sponsors, are spread out through the field. And his shows, which got their start as an alternative to DIRT’s Syracuse spectacular, are mostly on bullrings where handling and driving, not the cost of the engine, are the key factors.
Deyo works day and night to attract sponsorshipd and giveaways while promoting events using traditional as well as social media. The track’s regular operators take care of the track and the facility and the arrangement has paid off for all. And touches such as offering a toilet as the winner’s trophy for the “King of the Can” show at Pennsylvania’s Penn Can Speedway have given the shows a buzz that can’t be bought at any price.
But here again when you see a full house and overflowing pits at one of Deyo’s shows, you have to stop and think about the facility. At Lebanon Valley’s recent Super DIRTcar modified series event, Deyo, who is also a racing columnist in an area trade paper, eyed the crowd and laughed nervously.
“At the tracks where I run my shows,” he noted, “their stands are about equal to the two bleacher sections on the first turn end here. It would take a lot of work to fill this place.”
The key take away from Doty’s well thought out epistle is that racing people must accept change, whether they like it or not. He mentions shorter races with more social time between, embracing import cars to attract some of the people who have gravitated to drifting, focusing on the 18-34 demographic, bringing back the attractive girls so much a part of stadium truck and motorcycle racing and in general examining what we do on both sides of the pit fence.
One excellent point he made was that many participants and organizers spend their time and energy arguing about crate engines or “built” engines, an issue that the dwindling fan base could not care less about.
“They just want to see cars pass cars and heroes defeat villains,” says Doty. “Presently we have a product that appeals to an audience too small to support it and we have to do what it takes to attract a younger audience.”
It’s easy for people my age to shake our heads and long for the old days. But they’re not coming back! If you don’t believe Doty, picture the fans over age 55 at your favorite track suddenly disappearing all at once instead of one by one. How many fans would be left?
We need to highlight and preserve the sport’s history but, like it or not, we must also accept change. Otherwise, in a decade or two, there may not be any fans or racers to appreciate that history.