Criteria for hosting a Lucas Oil Late Model race; In light of track cancelations, are there other options?
Today, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series was scheduled to be in LaSalle, IL. However, last week that event at LaSalle Speedway was abruptly canceled by track promoter Tony Izzo Jr.
There were 64 events scheduled for the 2018 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule when the season began in February. Despite a wide range of tracks, from Florida to South Dakota and everywhere in the middle, there’s still more tracks out there that want a Lucas race.
In the interview below I talked with LOLMDS director Rick Schwallie about tracks in general. How does a new track appear on the series schedule? Has the series considered options that would take the finances of the track promoter out of the equation?
All of those questions are answered below.
How do you find time to scout out new tracks?
“We don’t. We don’t scout out any tracks. We don’t solicit any tracks to have a race,” Rick Schwallie explains to RacingNews.co .
“A race track would call us that’s interested in having our events. At most any race track we have that’s on the current schedule, they are called first when we set next years schedule.”
“They have first right or refusal. Our events are successful enough that we have very little turn over. From year to year, there’s hardly any changes.”
“It’s hard to get on our schedule. And we try to add a track here and there. That’s how we brought the schedule to about 60 events which is probably 10 more than what we want or need.”
“It’s just that we wanted to be able to get to some new markets and some new tracks. And some awesome tracks that we’ve had on our bucket list. They eventually contacts us. That’s what led to 60 races.”
So, you just kinda patiently wait for them to reach out? Even when you want to go there?
“And we had a cancelation recently. Even in that process, I’ve heard from no less than 8 tracks since that cancelation, wanting that event weekend. Which is impossible to even advertise for.”
But, when a new track comes along with interest I would assume you go there first to check it out?
“Not in all cases, if we’re familiar with it.”
“We have some criteria for a new track that’s never been on the schedule. The track at each race pays the purse out of what they collect at the gate.”
“At a new track, we just ask them to pay that up front, 15 business days in advance. At the night of the race, we do the checks ourselves and pay the competitors when they race.”
That’s it? There’s no other criteria for a new track?
“Oh there’s other things. We have to have a registered ambulance. We don’t want to accept an ambulance that doesn’t have a certain certificate.”
“You have to carry insurance. The insurance company for the race track has to add us as additional insured and things like that. There’s a bunch of criteria, little things.”
“But, most anybody conducting a race in this business that has a race track is doing all this stuff anyway. So, there’s nothing really additional to any of it.”
Last year, Ponderosa Speedway closed down their facility just weeks ahead of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series show. A few weeks later, it was back open. This year, LaSalle Speedway pulled the plug on their race.
There’s a huge reward for hosting this series. At most tracks, it’s packed from top to bottom and all rows across. But, when you mix in things like possible weather, surrounding area event competition of all kinds, silly things like a Royal Wedding which drew the eyes of the whole world then the gate attendance can sometimes get a little shaky.
As the payouts continue to rise, the reward does as well. Simultaneously, so does the risk.
When you have a track like LaSalle Speedway cancel an event, do you consider doing it in a different way? I’m not sure what that would be. But, I just found a cancelation at that track in particular as a surprise. Something where the tracks aren’t obligated to pay the purse? Maybe they take a rental fee or something?
“Oh, we can lease a race track. The series comes in, leases the track and does all the advertising. We’re financially responsible for it. Then, do the event.”
“There’s other series that do a good bit of that. But, we don’t. We don’t do any of it.”
“Every race on our schedule, the track promoter is promoting the event.”
Have you done that in the past?
“A couple times along the way. And it’s alright to do. We’ve been successful doing it.”
“But, we specialize in being the sanctioning body and doing what we can to enforce the rules package that we have. Everything we do is a sanctioning body.”
“We’re not in it to be a race track operator. We’re in it to bring a product to them. That’s not our specialty, so that’s why we don’t do a lot of it.”
Related: LaSalle Speedway event canceled
Related: Ponderosa Speedway event canceled
Related: Kevin Gundaker discusses the risks of hosting national dirt racing events
Related: Rick Schwallie discusses the growth of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Related: Economic impact of the Gateway Dirt Nationals