PAUCH: What Do Racers Do During The Winter?

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Mandee Pauch

FRENCHTOWN, N.J. — Almost every racing junky isn’t a professional racing junky 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

While the offseason break can look different for everyone, it typically involves a few weeks completely off from their everyday racing life.

Most race car drivers use a few weeks to do everything they don’t get to do during the season.

It’s that time of the year to mix it up a little, have some fun, go on vacation or just veg out on the couch.

There’s no time crunch. They don’t have to have the car ready for Friday night or washed by tomorrow morning.

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So, to many people’s surprise, racers usually use the offseason for their non-related racing activities.

They catch up on house and garage work that was neglected all summer long. They go to a party or two. They hang out with friends they don’t get to see during the season and visit restaurants and places they don’t normally go.

But of course, they still find themselves in the race shop almost every night, getting their ducks in a row for the upcoming season. There’s maintenance to do, sponsors to please and studying be done in order to be better next year.

What do race fans do during the offseason?

I asked a few people what they do during the winter to help with racing withdrawal.

The top activities during the offseason I found are snowmobiling, watching racing videos, go-karting, RC/slot car racing and indoor racing.

It only makes sense if you live in an area where you have seasonal racing that snowmobiling would be the top activity. Personally, I’m not a fan. As soon as that cool, crisp air arrives come October, I’m miserable.

I am lucky though, we do have a few indoor races I can go to that are all within three hours if I need my mid-winter racing fix. Others may travel to the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Gateway Nationals, Tulsa Shootout or Rumble in Fort Wayne.

If you haven’t attended an indoor race, you must put it on your bucket list. It could be snowing, sleeting or raining, but racing goes on indoors.

One year I went to the Chili Bowl with my brother and it was below freezing outside, but when we were inside the Tulsa Expo Center we didn’t care what was going on outside.

Watching recorded races on television and on YouTube seems to be the next best fix, especially for the race car drivers. They like to watch their races and do some studying. As for the fans, they like to relive the moment.

Heck, if you’re going to relive the moment, I sure hope you have your bubble goggles on and a cold one in your hand while you watch from your recliner.

I’ve never been to an RC or slot car race, but I have several friends that partake in it during the winter. I’ve been told you can make adjustments on your car, which makes it pretty interesting on the technical side.

Who does not go go-karting in the winter? We used to have one big race at a local go-kart track every year in December. We’d get a lot of drivers and friends come out and we’d have a full out race with heat races, consolations and features. That was always a blast.

It’s great to go out and knock the dust off. It’s even more fun for the fans when they’re at the go-kart track and a few drivers come walking in. How many people can say they had a full-on race with professional race car drivers? That makes their year in many cases.

Another activity that I always look forward to is the motosports trade shows. It’s nice to have something to break up your winter. Yes, you see these people six months straight during racing season, but when you haven’t seen them for a month and a half it feels like it’s been years.

So it’s always nice to catch up and see what’s new. Plus, those shows always get me excited because once they’re here, that means racing season is right around the corner.

In all honesty, when you work in the racing industry, there really is no such thing as an offseason. If anything, the offseason is where you put in all of the work to get ready for next year.

You have to get all your ducks in a row, review the past year, figure out how you can do better next year, etc. There’s a lot more work involved than most realize; there just aren’t cars going in circles kicking up dust.