Opinion: It’s Time to Consider Time Limits for Short Track Races

SpeedPagan

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https://speed51.com/opinion-its-time-to-consider-time-limits-for-short-track-races/

How big of a problem is this in the short track scene? I can really only recall one race at Carolina Speedway and one race at the Charlotte Dirt Track where they had a class that was just one caution after another. Other than those two classes at two different races, the races I've seen on dirt and asphalt short tracks have been pretty good at starting and finishing in a timely manner.

Of course if this does become the norm, I would add a caveat that when the time limit is up, to keep the race from ending under yellow, they should have at least one or two G-W-C attempts
 

AndyMarquisLive

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How big of a problem is this in the short track scene?
Huge.

Not uncommon for races to get out of control and run an hour or more. People are also so afraid of losing cars that action is rarely taken to get it under control, until it's so out of control that you have to call a G-W-C.

I like what Dominion Raceway does. They don't count the first three cautions, then after that, caution laps count. That's the most fair procedure IMO.

Time limits can be tricky because a big crash that takes a while to cleanup either still puts you off schedule or just takes an entire race away from the drivers.

But something needs to be done. Often times, when one class gets out of control and races for over an hour, it's the fans and the other classes who get punished. Fans leave without seeing what they paid to see, other classes get laps cut to make curfew.
 

gnomesayin

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I really only go to dirt tracks, but I've been to ones that utilize time limits, especially in lower classes. This was true 25 years ago and more recently. It might be 20 laps or 20 minutes, at which point it becomes a GWC. It makes sense when there is a wreckfest or a curfew. For weekly shows, I'm a fan of short tracks that run an orderly 2.5 - 3.5 hour program. I'm less impressed by tracks that always think more is better and meander into early morning hours every week.
 

toledo47

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Huge problem. Especially with dirt racing. I’ll often go see a big WoO or Lucas Oil late model show and a local stock car or UMP modified class will take forever to even get a single lap in. Gets really ridiculous sometimes.
Have been to a few tracks in North and South Dakota that had a good system that I have not seen elsewhere. When someone spun out by themselves, they automatically knew to just pull it into the pits. They were done for that race.
So often you see someone do a little spin and just sit there and wait for the caution to come out so they can get caught up with the field.
Doesn’t happen at those tracks out in the Dakotas...
Have seen it plenty with pavement stuff as well. Usually when I go to pavement races there isn’t more than 1 support race, so is not a big deal.
I remember a really bad one, April 2018 Whelen Modified Tour Race at Stafford. The show was already rain delayed by quite a bit of time. They had 3 local classes before the tour race... every race was crazy long... ridiculous. And they wouldn’t cut any laps or move anything to after the tour race(which is what everyone who was freezing in the stands came for)...
It’s not fun, seeing a bunch of wrecky classes scheduled for the same night as a big touring class makes me less likely to go the that event.
 

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We only have dirt tracks in my area. Two of them run under a curfew. Both do a good job of getting their programs in under the curfew. One area track doesn't have a curfew, but gets their program in on a timely manner. The others are hit and miss.

What I have found funny is a track that operates under a curfew, that has a day race, will have the most dragged out program when it's a day race. I have seen a couple of others like this too. Instead of a 4 hour program, they run a program at least 8 hours for a day show. Very aggravating.
 

SpeedPagan

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I think the worst dragged out race I've seen was when I went to Carolina Speedway with a friend. It was a street stock class (dunno which flavor of street stock) and they were on lap 7 for the longest time. Like, they would go to green, and then someone would wreck before the leaders could make it back to the line, so that whole thing would repeat itself. I think lap 7 lasted for like 30 minutes.
 

toledo47

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I think the worst dragged out race I've seen was when I went to Carolina Speedway with a friend. It was a street stock class (dunno which flavor of street stock) and they were on lap 7 for the longest time. Like, they would go to green, and then someone would wreck before the leaders could make it back to the line, so that whole thing would repeat itself. I think lap 7 lasted for like 30 minutes.
Yeah, thats really not rare at all. I go to 30-50 races each year all over the country, including a lot of dirt races... it happens far too much...
 

SpeedPagan

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Yeah, thats really not rare at all. I go to 30-50 races each year all over the country, including a lot of dirt races... it happens far too much...
Yea, this was at a dirt track, it was towards the beginning of the night.
 

JerryF

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A couple other things contribute to long shows. Many tracks have long intermissions so they can sell lot's of concessions. Then the seemingly endless yellow flag laps when trying to position the restart lineup.
 

Nitro Dude

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Monster Supercross is run on a clock and then when the time runs out they race 1 or 2 more laps I can't remember which.
 

JerryF

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It all seems backwards to me. Curfews are needed so many tracks can stay open. But cutting the race short comes out of the fans pocket and is especially aggravating when there's long delays that don't seem necessary. Aggravated fans reduce attendance.
One of the local tracks I used to attend, would run long intermissions and then run the top divisions feature last. A wreck that involved a lot of cleanup would sometime result in the feature race being cut from 40 to 30, and sometimes 20 laps. Happened too many times -- drivers got their purse money -- track got their ticket and concession money, and the fans didn't see the full race.
 

StandOnIt

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If these smaller tracks had decent management, wrecks and getting them lined up shouldn't be a problem. All ya got to do is watch the Chili Bowl crews that Emmet Hahn has put together. Hahn has the same efficiency at his track in Sapulpa. They are so good they are part of the entertainment and not part of the problem. It's like a Nascar pit stop.
 

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This is one of those issues that keep coming up every few years. Since it keeps coming up, either old solutions aren't working or management didn't pay attention to what used to work and let it lapse.

Pretty obvious that when you see families leaving carrying sleepy kids, and the top class feature race hasn't been lined up yet, those people will never be back. And they will caution their friends about it.

Some track operators are afraid of enforcing rules because that might make racers mad and they'll lose cars. They don't realize that they are probably already losing other cars and multiple fans because of those racers who need to be disciplined.

I've seen a few things work over the years:
Three strikes and you're out. Cause three cautions over the course of the program and you're black flagged. Includes heat races as well as features, and also includes driving in multiple classes.
Cars for the next race are expected to be staged by the white flag of the previous race. At that point, the cars that are staged are moved up in line and stragglers tag onto the back in the order they show up.
Once the field enters the track for its race, there are three caution laps to get everybody together and lined up correctly. (This does not include warm-up laps taken by top classes like Super Late Models.) There is no coming onto the track late and moving up to take a starting position within or at the head of the pack - you tag onto the rear. Refusing to do so results in a black flag.
If a class keeps going long due to too many cautions and restarts, it is moved to be the last race of the night next week.
Time limits (that don't include time for wreck cleanup).
Requiring working racing radios (such as RACEceiver), and drivers respecting and following track operator's instructions issued over it. "Couldn't hear" is no excuse - you are responsible for how well your radio works.

I like the article's rule that states each race will have one final attempt to finish under green flag conditions once the time limit is reached.

Of course, long drawn-out shows can be the fault of track management too. It can't expect to be successful if:
It is still prepping the track within half an hour (or later) of the scheduled drivers' meeting time - especially if the weather had been good before race day.
It waits on teams to show up, or to get their cars prepared and on the track. Not only creates dead time, but also suggests favoritism.
It has to have the announcer come on the PA system to beg cars to get staged.
It has dead gaps between races, and long intermissions, where it appears to fans that nothing is going on.
It has trouble getting its tow trucks to work.
It has track workers - especially the flagman - just disappear for a while.
It allows teams to work on their cars out on the track. Even worse, track workers working on cars while out on the track.

Keep drawing out shows past midnight and you'll see your fan count fall off. Even hardcore fans have limits. Sponsors will notice, and you'll have trouble getting them to sign up again.
But what do I know? I'm only a customer...
 

kkfan91

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I've only had one that was really bad, others were caused by bad wrecks like sprint cars stuck in the catch fence. The bad one was on pavement the features were all scheduled to be extra long for the season ending event. Let me just say a 50 lap street stock race should never happen, it finished on lap 34 an hour and a half after it started. That was followed by a 40 minute 20 lap bandelaro race with 3 cars where the kids just were dumping each other. Then almost 3 hours to run the 150 lap modified race...
 

AndyMarquisLive

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I think the worst dragged out race I've seen was when I went to Carolina Speedway with a friend. It was a street stock class (dunno which flavor of street stock) and they were on lap 7 for the longest time. Like, they would go to green, and then someone would wreck before the leaders could make it back to the line, so that whole thing would repeat itself. I think lap 7 lasted for like 30 minutes.
These two gems did me in.

https://www.shorttrackscene.com/late-model-stock-cars/dylan-hall-scores-victory-in-marathon-wreckfest-at-myrtle-beach/
https://www.shorttrackscene.com/late-model-stock-cars/connor-hall-outlasts-competition-in-arduous-solid-rock-carriers-150/
 

StandOnIt

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Of course he does. But can other weekly short tracks have all the personnel to operate their track like he does? Apples and oranges.
I've probably been to at least 30 races at Hahn's Creek County Speedway and the same thing happens out there. He does most of it with four wheelers, has a couple that have wrecker attachments with a push bumper on the front. They line up the cars in the pits for the races, so when they come out on the track they are ready to go. The cars are coming off the track from the last race and the next bunch are coming on. It's something to watch.
 

MRM

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I'll give you a great example of a track with a curfew that wants to take all day and all night when running a "day" race.

There was a track this weekend that decided to run a 2-day show with some small purses. It wasn't good to be good with this format. They were a bit delayed on Saturday because some rain had moved through and had to get the track run in. I think they finally got started around 2:00. The heats for the primary class didn't start until 9:30. The feature for the primary class on day 2 didn't get started until 8:00 last night. I know they had the National Anthem yesterday around 2 or 2:30. I don't know what happened between then and 8:00.
 

DIDIT

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I might be the only one, but with the World of Outlaws and the Big Block Modifieds the cars seem to be pulling up more and more with flats on the track to get to the work area. I don't like seeing this when you have a good green flag run going with some excellent racing. A couple years back at Charlotte the modifieds couldn't even get in two laps at a time without someone pulling up. They all guessed wrong on the tires I guess.
 
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