Late model pavement racing in the state of Florida over the past few years has at best, been “iffy”. Everyone involved in the sport were left scratching their heads trying to figure out why the premier division in short track racing was in such decline. It seems that the tracks outside of the sunshine state were doing very well with their late model programs, and promoters were anxious to run their next scheduled event, so, what was the problem in Florida?
First, lets’ look at short track racing in general. No matter how you shake it out, short track racing falls into the category of “entertainment” meaning the people that buy the tickets for the show expect to be entertained, to enjoy the experience, not to be left wanting more. Now how does this relate to late model racing you ask? Simple, you can’t put on a show with eight, or ten race cars, and expect the fans to flock back for the next scheduled show. This unfortunately seemed to be the root of decline in Florida.
Race promotion is a vicious circle, to get more race cars, you need to raise the purse, in order to up the purse you need more race cars, are you starting to see how this works? With this in mind, any promoter will tell you the Late Model Division is the premier class to schedule at your track; the Late Models will always draw a crowd. So, in Florida, it is not unusual to see two or three late model races scheduled on the same night at different tracks as promoters struggled to get their fair share of the market. Of course this strategy would fail. Low car counts would bring smaller crowds than expected, and leave the promoters to bite the bullet and ultimately go in the hole to cover the purse for the night. This left the promoters with a sour taste concerning the validity of the late models to draw a crowd, and the fans would express their displeasure that they paid good hard earned money to watch eight late models race.
As the 2010 race season was winding down, promoters throughout the state all knew something had to happen, not to just to keep the doors open at their facility, but for the betterment of short track racing in general. With this goal in mind, six promoters from six different tracks came together to resolve the differences, and work together. Thus the foundation of the Florida United Promoters Late Model Series.
First they worked out a twelve race series, with each track hosting two races, this will allow a touring series within the state, and will be the only late model race on any given week end throughout the state. Care was taken to come up with a unified rules package that will allow the teams to compete without making major, costly changes to their cars, a simple tire rule, all six tracks run Hoosier tires, so all teams will race on Hoosiers. Hoosier has also signed on as primary sponsor for the series and will fund the points fund. Promoters also hired a race and technical director to take charge of the operation, and no promoter will have anything to do with the everyday nuts, and bolts of this series. The purses will remain constant, and entry fees will be the same one hundred dollars for every race. Hoosier Tire will also be giving away two tires at each race. Additional sponsors are said to be in negotiations with the series, but there have been no formal announcements at this point.
Will the formation of this series bring the late models back to the forefront of Florida short track racing? Will it accomplish bringing the crowds back? Only time will tell, whatever the results, this is a positive step forward, not only for the promoters, and late model teams, but for the race fan that supports their local short tracks. For more information on this new series visit www.auburndaleracing.com