Mark Richards: “I think we’d be better off with less rules and the cost would be lower.”
In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about rules and the costs of the sport. It’s a conversation that’s always been there, it just appears amped as of late.
Mark Richards is the man behind Rocket Chassis. In addition, Rocket1 Racing owned by Mark Richards Racing, Inc. sits at the top of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models point standings with driver Brandon Sheppard.
Of course, costs of dirt racing directly effects the chassis builders. Yet, Richards isn’t going to voluntarily lower the cost of his race cars. Cutting costs would simultaneously hurt the performance of the chassis, any chassis.
Lowering the cost would take a unified rules change to dirt late model racing. But, would he want to see that?
Would you want to see a rule change that lowers the cost of your cars?
“I don’t know if the cost of the sport is the problem,” Mark Richards stated to RacingNews.co from the Rocket1 Racing hauler.
“That’s the biggest issue that I don’t understand. Everybody says it is, but you know, I started racing back in the 70’s. The cost of racing back then, everybody said, ‘Racing’s expensive.’ ”
It’s never been a poor man’s sport
“Today, racing’s still expensive. It’s never been a poor man’s sport. I can’t go race a cup car, obviously. I don’t have enough money to go race a cup car. When I say this, everything has gone up. Street stock racing, 4 cylinder racing and clear up to late model, sprint car racing. Everything has escalated over time.”
“So, I don’t know what we can do. But, I know what we’ll never do… We’ll never make it to where it’s a poor man’s sport. I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve seen asphalt pavement try to do this, over the 90’s-00’s. They tried to fix the rules to make it cheaper.”
“Everybody had a different idea. All the tracks around said, ‘Well we’re gunna fix it this way. We’re gunna change this rule. We’re gunna go to a different engine rule. We’re gunna go to a different tire rule. We’re gunna go to a different body rule.’ ”
“Well, what they did was they put themselves out of business. The more rules we make the more costs there becomes. Because then you bring engineers in to find finer adjustments to get speed. That’s where the problem gets.”
The more rules we make, the more cars we run off.
“The other thing is the racers just run out of money from having to make the changes, to be legal. We’re limited right here today on cars because some people don’t upgrade to what the new safety rules are. So, the more rules we make, the more cars we run off.”
At the start of the 2017 season, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series increased the size of the onboard fire suppression bottle. It’s an automatic fire extinguisher that was suppose to go into effect across all major dirt late model divisions. However, other series backed out, pushing back to the rule to 2018.
I’ve got a different outlook on it than everybody else.
“So, I’ve got a different outlook on it than everybody else. I think we’d be better off with less rules and the cost would be lower. As the rules come in play, the cost goes up.”
“Like right now, I know that even in some of the lower series they’ve made some rules and there’s some stuff that guys are getting around the rules with. That’s run the costs up.”
“So, it’s a touchy situation. I can tell you, we didn’t get here by a bunch of rules. And we’re getting further and further away because of a bunch of rules.”
Brandon Sheppard has picked up 24 wins so far in the 2017 season. He pilots the Rocket Chassis house car for Mark Richards.
Author: Shane Walters