LONDON: The Racing Journal


VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — The shuttering of California’s Irwindale Speedway is not the way we wanted the new season to start. We are in a period where so many racing venues are in a precarious position.

We all know the reason. Racing is pricing itself out of oblivion. If the race track operators and car owners are losing money, how will the sport continue? Both parties are sorely needed. Drivers? We have plenty of them.

If there is nothing to drive and nowhere to drive them how do they race?

So many tracks all over the USA are changing promoters, dropping divisions and changing surfaces. Stability used to be racing’s best friend.

Cheaper ways to race?

There aren’t any anymore. New Jersey’s Bridgeport Speedway tried crate engines last season. Most of its top drivers took their modifieds and raced elsewhere. The fans didn’t take to them. Successful driver Doug Hoffman, who ran Mahoning Speedway in the Keystone State, is the next of many track ops there.

This is supposed to be the “big money” era in racing. The only people with fat wallets from racing are Sprint Cup drivers. Even NASCAR owners are struggling. Multi-million dollar sponsors are fading away. Over the years, some Cup teams have taken on partners or have merged.

Roger Penske, who has spent years on the Fortune 500 roster, had to drop his youngest star hopeful, Justin Algaier because sponsorship money dried out. If Roger Penske can’t afford to field a team on his own, who can?

Rusty Wallace is dry docking his two-car NASCAR Nationwide team. He can’t get the seven million dollars he needs to sponsor them. Most teams in the circuit draw under seven figures in sponsorship allowance. Want to know how much it costs to make five West Coast round trips a year these days? It costs a mid-pack Nationwide or Truck team as much as it does a first rate Cup team.

It’s quite hurtful to read that longtime owners of weekly racing are dropping out completely or only running special events. Engine prices are hitting 50 grand with more than $10,000 to refresh one. With expenses at an all-time high, this situation can only get worse.

This is going to be an important year for a lot of people in racing. I wish I was encouraged.

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