Rick Salter discusses DIRTcar strong holding, late model costs and the need for a drivers’ council
Below is an interview that was done toward the end of the 2017 season.
Rick Salter was in his final season of dirt late model racing. Since he’s run his last race and has begun to look at RC racing.
Will dirt late model racing become regional only?
“We’re running for 80% at Highland Speedway. Every class has been cut 80% because the fan count isn’t there. If you run outside the top 5, you might as well run a few laps and pull in,” Rick Salter told RacingNews.co.
“It’s gotten that bad.”
“When we used to have that Challenge of Champions Series. It was 15 races. They had a $15,000 to win finale at Pevely. That was a neat series. We don’t have the mini-series like that.”
“We need more stuff like that, regional series. 10 races, within 4 hours of each other. You’re going to have to see mini-series pop-up. Where somebody’s got a title sponsor to put a little bit of money in there for the point fund. Then, the tracks can bring late models in. It’s tough.”
I hate to say it. I think that’s where late model racing’s going
“I hate to say it. I think that’s where late model racing’s going. It’s going to become a regional traveling series.”
You think the local late model racing is just going to be done?
“Yeah. They’re not going to be able to have late models like they are.”
“It used to be cheaper to take your kids to the track. Everything is inflating. Parts cost more because parts are engineered better. We know that, it’s the nature of the beast.”
“I hate when people get on there and say well, ‘Just don’t run it then if you can’t afford it.’ That’s my biggest pet-peeve in the world. I’ve done this for 14 years, our way, out of this garage and an open trailer.”
“I’ve talked to other promoters. I think what you’re going to see and we really need it. I don’t think NASCAR’s wrong on having a driver’s council. But there needs to be promoters and then the sanctioning bodies.”
“When they have meeting’s there needs to be representatives from the drivers, the promotors and the sanctioning bodies. I talked to Jason Feger and also Kevin Gundaker. Kevin says, ‘The drivers need to get together and have a council too.’ He also says, ‘The promoters are stuck in the middle a lot of the times.’ ”
Strong holding, I’ll go there with you. If you want? It’s the tracks job to bring the biggest races they can, for their fans.
“I agree with that. They’re stuck in the middle. UMP, we’ve all heard it, they put a stronghold on ’em. They tried to do it to Fayette County. They tried to block all them from having a Lucas Oil race.”
The tracks are the one’s struggling the most. They need to do what they need to do to survive. That stuff makes me nuts.
“Yeah, and the sanctioning body is the one that’s trying to hurt them the worst.”
“Charlie Depew was trying to have a Lucas Oil race. World Racing Group tried to stronghold ’em.”
Fayette County Speedway never hosted a Lucas Oil show in 2017. However, a World of Outlaws Late Model Series date was added.
It’s simply the sanctioning body in a cut throat battle with each other. World Racing Group / UMP have these tracks under contract, preventing them from hosting a race from a competing series.
It’s a way for WRG to make it as hard as possible for a series to outgrow them. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series and Sprint Car Series fall under the WRG banner. But, realistically they’ve already fallen to second and they’re still hurting a bulk of their own tracks.
“World of Outlaws is the little brother right now. They’re not the premier series.”
“I’m not taking away from the drivers that are there. They’re premier drivers but they’re series doesn’t carry the weight that Lucas Oil does. Brandon Sheppard has proven he’s a top tier Lucas Oil or World of Outlaw driver.”
“Lucas Oil is stouter. That group that travels with ’em is stouter. It’s a better group that travels with ’em.”
This contact doesn’t apply to old tracks, they are grandfathered in. It only applies to newer DIRTcar tracks. That’s whey you don’t see any tracks that recently picked up UMP sanction hosting Lucas Oil races. When I say recent, it’s been around for at least 10 years.
But strong holding the little tracks isn’t the way to go. Nor is trying to make things difficult on a competing series. If one series grows, they both grow. Both of these series can co-exist. There’s no need to have exclusive Lucas Oil tracks and exclusive WoO tracks, that’s silliness. If NASCAR and INDYCAR can share tracks so can you guys.
“Lucas Oil, we ran with them. I have nothing but the utmost respect for everybody we talked to, dealt with.”
Rick Salter won the B Main at Tri-City Speedway on July 14, 2017. That gifted him with a transfer spot into the main event. Salter pulled in early, finishing 23rd.
Related: Tri-City Speedway LOLMDS results
“I was Joe shmoe. We talked to Jason, the tech guy over the winter to make sure we had our fuel and our fire suppression stuff up to spec because we were planning to run a couple Lucas Oil shows.”
The fire suppression system went into effect this year. A 10 pound bottle is now required. That came from the Dirt Late Model Council. The series get together and universally enforced the size of the fire suppression system. Or did they?
“See and that’s another thing. They pushed that and pushed that. Then the season started. UMP said, ‘Yeah, you guys don’t need to have that.’ There’s over $2,500 just in fire and fuel suppression, in this car.”
“I didn’t argue about buying the system. We’ve run a system since I started late model racing, it just wasn’t automatic like this new one.”
“UMP slacked off on it. Now they’re saying, ‘2018, you’ll probably have to have them.’ That’s what hurt some of the Lucas Oil shows with regional guys coming too, that fire system.”
“There needs to be a group of drivers and owners that get together with sanctioning body when rules are made. Not just high end drivers, the poor boys also.”
Related: Steve Francis discusses body rules