During the week end of March 24 and 25, 2018 Martinsville Virginia Speedway hosted the NASCAR truck an cup series. Unfortunately, the Martinsville area was hit with a snow storm and both series had to be run on Monday March 26th. It was the first short track race of the year and many comments were made during the TV broadcast about short track racing.
In the TV commentators booth Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon commented many times about their past short track experience and how that helped their respective careers. Many drivers that were interviewed over that weekend echoed the same sentiments. They all agreed that their short track experience contributed to their present success as NASCAR series drivers.
With that said, many will ask, why should I visit a short track this year? There are many ways to satisfy your racing passion and short track racing is one of them. I am not here to bash or criticize the major racing series or the Super Speedways they race on. I am just pointing out there is a great opportunity waiting for someone who only watches racing on TV or attends only the major racing series. My goal is to encourage race fans to attend short track racing. I still believe the only way to get the ultimate experience is to attend a race in person and short track racing provides that opportunity.
First a brief history about how short track racing started. Many of the short tracks today started out as county fairgrounds horse racing tracks. The fairgrounds dirt tracks became a natural facility for motor racing. The grandstands for spectators were already present and the racing surface was there as well. Many short tracks in the rural southeast United States started out in some local farmer’s corn field Many stories are told about how the moonshine whiskey drivers would brag about who’s car was the fastest. They would find a willing farmer to let them race in one of their empty fields. Then, some enterprising individual found a way to charge the spectators admission and short track racing started in the rural southeast.
These are just two examples of how short track racing started. There are as many stories about how a short track was born as there are short tracks. All fifty states have short tracks located within their boundaries and there are all shapes, sizes and surfaces both dirt and pavement represented by those tracks. I will not attempt to describe all the many types of short tracks nor name some of the more famous venues. The internet is full of that information and I encourage all race fans to investigate that information.
Most race fans have a short track within a short driving distance of their primary residence. That negates the expense of driving a long distance to attend an event. All good short tracks cater to their local fans and many go out of their way to compete for their entertainment dollars. They are creative with their racing programs and like all good businesses they encourage repeat business. They encourage parents to bring their kids and many have programs dedicated to those kids in attendance. The ones that don’t cater to the race fan will suffer from low attendance and may soon close.
Another advantage is that the good short tracks keep their programs short so the spectator can be home within a reasonable time. Another huge advantage is that unlike the major race series the spectators are usually welcome to visit the pit area after the racing concludes. Most of the drivers and their crews welcome the chance to mingle with their fans. That creates a hero status for the drivers and creates a win-win situation for all. Who knows, your local hero may be a future super star and the fans can relate that they knew them before their super star status.
Finally, I have never bought a race ticket that guaranteed I would see a great race. Racing like all sporting events has its peaks and valleys. Don’t expect every race to be the greatest event you have ever attended. I encourage everyone to sample all of the different types of racing be it dirt racing or pavement racing. Each has its own type of racing and both can be equally enjoyable to the race fan. Motor racing is still the world’s most spectacular spectator sport.