In my last column, I wrote about Terry McCarl and the people of Park Jefferson Int’l Speedway in South Dakota having a pay-per-view race on Speed Shift TV and the World of Outlaws having a similar race on DIRTvision.com at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.
I watched them both, and man it was great to see real sprint cars back on the race track. But, at the same time, it was really odd to not see any fans in the stands, especially in the massive grandstands at Knoxville!
I heard both races were financially successful but, as I mentioned in my last column, it’s tough to make an event profitable with no fans and only income from PPV. It’s especially hard when the track, the sanctioning body and the live streaming company all have to make money from what is made from the PPV.
The Outlaws have an advantage when it comes to PPV races because they own Dirtvision.com. If they lease a track and promote the event themselves, they are able to keep all the revenue from the PPV subscribers. If they do a co-promotion with a track, then they share the revenue with the race track.
But, there is no guarantee that they will get enough subscribers to pay the purse and all the expenses incurred when putting on a national WoO event.
It’s a risky proposition, but there are other factors that come into play as to why racing with no fans can sometimes make sense. Like most touring series, the WoO has sponsors and marketing partners.
These sponsorship agreements might have a clause that stipulates that a certain amount of races have to be run during the season or the sponsor doesn’t have to pay or, at the very least, that payment could be reduced.
Race teams’ sponsorships most likely have the same stipulations, meaning that they too have to run a certain amount of races to fulfill their contracts and get full payment.
Of course, the drivers want to race, preferably in front of fans, but the bottom line is, they need to race to get paid.
So, as long as the tracks or sanctioning bodies can put on an event and pay the complete purse, regardless of where the money is coming from to pay that purse, the drivers will be happy to be racing.
Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 recently completed a two-night WoO race with limited fans, and it was also broadcast on DIRTvision.com. It was great to see fans, albeit not the standing room only crowd that is typical for a WoO race at I-55.
The racing was spectacular and, with 60 cars on hand, the talent in the pits was off the charts.
On Labor Day, Lincoln Speedway ran the first race in PA since the shutdown. They, too, ran with limited fans, but it was shown as a PPV on Speed Shift TV.
It was a surprise that Lincoln held a race, especially with fans, after Selinsgrove was scheduled to run several weeks earlier without fans and was shut down by Pennsylvania’s Governor just days prior to the race.
Atomic Speedway, here in Ohio, ran a sprint car show the day after Labor Day without fans and it was a PPV on Speed Shift TV.
By the time you read this, the All Star Circuit of Champions will have run throughout the Midwest at several tracks that they have never run in the history of the series, but they will also be at tracks where limited fans are allowed, and all the races will be broadcast on FloRacing.com.
NASCAR has also started racing again, but with no fans. The big difference between short track racing with no fans and NASCAR is that NASCAR has a multimillion-dollar television deal.
Like any other racing organization and race team who have sponsors, it gets those sponsors the worldwide exposure they need to justify the expense.
Iowa just announced racing can resume at 50 percent capacity. Obviously, that’s good news for Knoxville Raceway, which holds more than 20,000 people in their massive grandstands. Having to have six feet of distance between groups, and other restrictions that have to be implemented, will cut the number down to well under the 10,000 people.
Even if it ends up around 7,000 to 8,000 fans, that is a great crowd when most dirt tracks hold 3,000 to 5,000 paying customers.
A crowd of 7,000 to 8,000 people would be exceptional for a weekly race, and would also be a great crowd even for a WoO race, but it’s not nearly enough to support the Knoxville Nationals payout. We just have to hope things open up with more fans allowed by August.
One of the really gratifying parts of many of these races that have been run online with limited or no fans is that some team owners, big businesses, and small mom and pop businesses have donated money to the purse to help the teams take home some extra cash.
Even fans have chipped in to assist in the cause of bringing racing back until we can return to “normal.”
Notice I didn’t say “new normal.” I hate that term, because I refuse to think that we won’t at some point be back once again enjoying sprint car racing with full grandstands and people partying like it’s … well, 2019.
As far as the WoO-sanctioned Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic presented by Racing Optics at Attica Raceway Park scheduled for July 14 is concerned, at this point we are hoping it will happen as scheduled.
You can keep up with the latest news about the race by checking my twitter account – @braddoty18 – or going to AtticaRacewayPark.com or WorldofOutlaws.com.