Over 70 promoters and tech officials got together at Five Star Race Car Bodies in Twin Lakes, WI on Saturday, March 14th for the 2009 Midwest Tech Seminar and Promoter's Roundtable. At the end of the day, the theme of working together and sharing ideas was heard from all in attendance.
"I just think its fabulous, when you get this many promoters and tech people together to share their ideas and talk about the plus's and minus's going on in this business, I think its just great for the short track industry. And truthfully, wish there was more like this going around the country because I think it improve the whole industry and we would get to where we want to get a whole lot quicker," Tom Curley, ACT Tour Promoter and co-owner of Thunder Road Speed Bowl in Barre, VT stated. "I'm glad I came out because I am taking back more than I shared. I got a lot of good stuff out of it myself."
The day long event started bright and early with Curley giving the opening remarks. Curley shared his positive enthusiasm that in this economy it's a great opportunity for short track racing to get back to its glory days and thrive. He compared how businesses like McDonalds and Wal-Mart are posting positive numbers in this economic times because people are looking for value and race fans will be looking for the same at short tracks all across the country and that it was time for the tracks to jump on this opportunity and take advantage of it.
After his motivating remarks, the attendees were split into two different groups as the promoters and tech officials went to their respective workshops.
The tech officials started their day by sharing their thoughts on teching engines. Eddie Chew of Champion Racing Association led the discussion on 9:1 engines while Mike Lemke of the American Speed Association Midwest Tour led the talk on ACE engines.
The Promoter's Workshop was a large roundtable discussion with Curley, RJ Scott & Glenn Luckett of Champion Racing Association, Tim Olson & Steve Einhaus of the American Speed Association Midwest Tour, Tim Bryant of 5 Flags Speedway, Dennis Huth of the American Speed Association, and Laura Hauenstein of WSIB Insurance presiding.
The promoter's workshop started with Brian Butler of Butler Built leading the discussion on cockpit safety and what promoters could do to improve that in their support weekly divisions.
That discussion was then switched to insurance policies as Laura Hauenstein, President of WSIB Insurance and Dennis Huth, President of the American Speed Association shared their thoughts on what tracks should look for in policies along with creating a proper procedure to accurately report claims to the insurance carriers. This followed with an open discussion about track insurance from all of the participants.
After a brief break, the tech officials were back in session as Butler joined them to go over what officials should be looking for during a cockpit safety inspection. That was followed up representatives of Quarter Master demonstrating the proper way to inspect clutch and drive shafts along with Coleman Floating Rotors.
While the promoters got an eye opening presentation from Julia Luther of Racingonline.com and Dells Raceway Park about the power of social marketing through websites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, RSS and YouTube. This got many promoters thinking and talking about this new way of getting to their fans. In fact, Tom Curley stated that he was having a staff meeting on Monday and is going to pursue this idea.
During the lunch period, Tim Bryant and Ricky Brooks of 5 Flags Speedway, home of the Snowball Derby, shared their thoughts and gave examples of how they stand behind each other at the track. Both were very passionate in their stories and today the two work together at one of the more popular race tracks in the south and host one of the more honored and prestigious short track events in the country.
Crate and sealed engines were the theme for the tech inspectors after lunch as they attended workshops presented by McGunegill Race Engines, REDI, and Wegner.
The promoters got a visit from Alan Hemsworth of Competition Race Fuels followed up by a presentation from RJ Scott and Glenn Luckett of CRA on the importance of building an alliance between tracks, series, rules and divisions.
After that the floor was open for promoters to openly discuss their thoughts on ticket prices, attendance, kid's clubs/activities, advertising and websites.
The tech officials got an overview of the Big 8 Series and steel engine inspection, followed by a presentation about tires and traction control from Ricky Brooks, Eddie Chew and Mike Lemke. Wayne Lensing of Lefthander Chassis talked about chassis and fuel cell safety and Diamond Racing Wheels talked about wheel safety.
The day ended with Five Star Race Car Bodies demonstrating how to inspect the ABC race car body.
At the end of the day, many others praised the workshops and indeed found value behind what they learned. "There is a great exchange of ideas when you get a group together like this and the nice thing is that its not super huge to such where you can't really exchange ideas if it gets too big," RJ Scott, Co-owner of Champion Racing Association stated. "We go to other industry meetings and people are afraid to share their ideas and this was the perfect size and a great mix of people who had information and people who wanted it. It was the perfect mix. From that perspective it's been a great event."
Scott also gave a great example of how the goal of working together was accomplished, "My chief technical inspector from the North Eddie Chew and Ricky Brooks our South technical director were both presenters but they were learning things too. I think there were some questions on some engine packages that we were not fully versed on because we don't see them a lot. For example, the ACE engine we were fired up to come down here and get more information on it and see know the proper way to tech it. And Eddie was doing the 9:1 engine. At the same time he was willing to learn and get different ideas from different people. That exchange of ideas and thoughts has been the best part."
His partner Glenn Luckett agreed, "I thought it was great. It was good to get the group together. It was good to have a small group like this so everybody could talk and get a lot of things that they thought were problems or things that we all could work together. It was a good group and mixture of people. Being a smaller group helped. At some of the bigger workshops you don't have the opportunity for the one on one conversation and the forum like what we had today. Just being in one room with one group of people you are able to exchange ideas. And even though we are in different parts of the country we all have the same problems."
Special thanks go to Steve Einhaus and Corey Schultz for their planning and executing of this event along with Five Star Race Car Bodies for hosting it. Both Einhaus and Schultz feel that an event like this every two years will be beneficial to the short track industry.