Social media provides both joy and peril in a digital age when everyone has an outlet to express their opinion, promoting certain things while vilifying others with a few pushes on their cellphone before nudging the send button for all to view.
Social media has largely been embraced within the racing community as race results can often be found online before a driver reaches victory lane, not to mention the inside access and engagement it provides.
On the flip side, the dependence on quick information has become pivotal in how a race track or series is viewed. Quick, accurate lineups and results as well as answered questions leads to a positive image while a lack of timely social media management has become a death sentence of sorts.
Yet the digital age is much more than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other flavor-of-the-month social media outlet is popular. Our cellphones have become extensions of our hands and we demand access to anything and everything as soon as it crosses our brains.
“It’s not going anywhere,” said Josh Holt, who is one of the three founders of MyRacePass, which is marketed as the most data packed motorsports network in the world. “Technology is going to be stronger and stronger every day. We need to learn how to embrace it and take advantage of it. Every company in the world uses technology. Start learning as much as you can and start taking advantage of it.”
Race tracks have transitioned from paper tickets to online sales, often creating a digital ticket that has a barcode that can be scanned or viewed at the front gate on a cellphone.
“There are more and more ticket companies that are getting involved in dirt-track racing,” Jackson Motorplex general manager Doug Johnson said. “Ticket companies supplying Major League Baseball and other sporting events are starting to get involved in short-track racing. It’s made our lives easier. Our Jackson Nationals tickets are 60 percent online and 40 percent box office (this year). That’s more than a reversal. Last year at this time (in February), it was 30-70 with most box office. More people are using their phone, computer or iPad to order tickets. It’s the wave of the future. I think everyone will order tickets online before too long.”
Jackson Motorplex has taken it a step further, creating direct deposit for not only the track employees but the racers as well.
“That got to be a pain because you had to wait for tech to clear or other classes,” Johnson noted about the former process of writing checks at the conclusion of an event. “This way will streamline everything. They know their check will be deposited on Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Also new this year at the track is Wi-Fi internet access at the pit gate, which will allow drivers and fans to pay via a credit card. Johnson believes that should speed up the process of getting into the track on race day much like direct deposit will make life easier for everyone at the end of a race night.
Pit Pay is a company that has been in the works for five years before launching this spring.
“The least favorite thing these racers do is wait in line,” Pit Pay founder Frank Bolter said. “There’s never enough time to do what you need to do.
“For the participant, the idea is to not have to stand in line and to pay with the payment method they choose instead of some tracks are cash only. With our platform you can do Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit card.”
Pit Pay is a mobile pit pass app that allows people to purchase their pit passes in advance. The goal is to streamline the process and skip the line of waiting to sign in and pay a fee before receiving an arm band. Tracks that use the Pit Pay platform allow anyone who is entering through the pits to do the sign-in and fee process ahead of time. A driver, fan or media member would simply show the completed process via the app at the pit window and receive an arm band to enter.
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