Buffenbarger Online

BUFFENBARGER: A New Player In The Game

Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet have positioned themselves as two of the most recognizable drivers in sprint car racing.

Larson has brought eyeballs to the sport with this success across multiple racing platforms, while Sweet has ascended from moving to Indiana and sleeping on friends’ couches to having won three consecutive World of Outlaws championships.

This may go down as the year this duo asserted their influence to impact the direction of the sport from a business perspective.

Larson has been involved with race teams in the past, but the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion has made some of his more influential moves outside of the race car this year.

Sweet has successfully dabbled in race promotion the past several years. Over the winter, Larson and Sweet started to ramp up their activities outside the cockpit of a race car.

Sweet and Larson partnered with Colby Copeland to take over promotion of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., diving head on into the task going as far as serving up beverages to patrons earlier this summer during an event as the trio aims to raise the profile of the quarter-mile oval at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.

During the opening night of the Kings Royal weekend at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, Larson furthered that influence by partnering with Sweet to create the High Limit Sprint Car Series that plans to contest 12 midweek racing events in 2023. According to Larson and Sweet, two of those races will pay $50,000 to win, with the remaining races paying at least $23,000 to the victor.

The series held a kickoff event in August at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., in front of a decent-sized crowd with Buddy Kofoid winning the inaugural feature where all the World of Outlaws teams sat out due to agreements with the series that limit where and when they can compete.

Larson and Sweet went out of their way to say the High Limit Sprint Car Series will not be in competition with any existing sprint car series, choosing to work around other schedules. One thing Larson and Sweet made clear during the introductory press conference at Eldora is their willingness to create more high-paying event opportunities for race teams.

Larson cited his experience chasing big purses in dirt late model racing the past two seasons. The duo also hopes to create a model that would give race teams a larger piece of the revenue generated from streaming video of live events.

The formation of the High Limit Series continues a recent trend of sustainable, bigger purses for sprint car races that are not sanctioned by the World of Outlaws.

For most of its existence the World of Outlaws has held a monopoly on most of the biggest paying, most prestigious events in the sport. Now we are starting to see more races with increased purses including the midweek High Limit events.

The World of Outlaws have become protective of their sprint car product over time and contracted teams and drivers do not have the same kind of freedom to race where and when the want that their late model and modified counterparts have.

The formation of the High Limit Series will not only provide another business avenue for Sweet and Larson, but the series is also becoming a disrupter for the industry to act as a catalyst to get teams locked into series agreements more freedom to choose where and when they can compete.

With the new revenue source of online pay-per-view and how those funds should be distributed being one of the hottest topics in the industry, the High Limit Series is at the forefront of this with FloRacing being one of the biggest supporters of the series, which is the largest competitor to World Racing Group’s DIRTVision broadcasting group.

The seemingly never-ending battle of who can set up a T-shirt trailer, tent, or table at events has also been debated throughout this process.

No matter how you view the steps Larson and Sweet have taken over the past several months, both want a seat at the table when it comes to the business of short-track, open-wheel racing that would stretch beyond their driving careers. Both want a larger voice in the decision-making that impacts the future of the sport.

There has been some resistance to the formation of the High Limit Series from variety of established tracks and series for a variety of reasons along with the positive feedback for Sweet and Larson taking the initiative to provide more big events for teams and drivers.

I for one am interested to see what role both drivers take the sport from a business perspective over the next several years and how it influences change to other aspects of the sport.End Bug

error: Content is protected !!