The Promoter's Journal- The Pro's, The Con's and The Uncertainty
By Kami Arnold and Scott Russell
In all honesty us taking over Placerville Speedway started as a joke. We witnessed Alan Handy (former promoter) getting chewed out by a competitor over an on-track call that was made, and clearly not in his favor. When Alan was done being scrutinized for every other detail, he was doing wrong, we said to him, jokingly "want to get rid of a track"? We all laughed about it. About a year later, Alan approached us and asked how serious we were about taking over the track. The short answer; we weren't. But, we started talking about it and thought; this might be an opportunity to work locally, so Scott didn't have to work out of town. At the time, Scott was working out of town M-F. He would leave Monday mornings about 3 am and we wouldn't see him again until about 10 pm each Friday. The transition took another full season, and what began as a joke, was actually a blessing in disguise.
Being former competitors at the track, we looked at everything as far as change to the facility, as well as the on-track product that you see when the track is open. We are still a work in progress. Coming from the "Racer side" we were focused on providing a great facility for our teams. Before we were racers, we were fans and we knew we needed to provide a good show for a fair price. Alan Handy from Handy Racing Promotions provided a strong foundation and we have been fortunate enough to be able to make improvements to an already well-run facility. Our first year was a huge learning year and we made minor changes to some of the processes, we made a couple changes in the pit area to open up the pits by removing a baseball dugout and made the gate opening much wider for safety reasons. We enhanced the season tickets to offer a reserved seat for season ticket holders. We have a long list that continues to grow with the intention of improving each year. We feel strongly that there is always room for improvement. Whether it be a process, rules adjustment, esthetics, communication or food options, we are always considering where we can make a positive improvement. With regards to Track Prep, everyone has an opinion and will tell you how it should be done, but until you have actually done it, they're just opinions. And what you do this Saturday will be different than what you need to do next Saturday. There are so many variables that go into prepping a track. So many variables that are out of your control, weather, heat, number of cars, broken pipes, broken down water pump, time, number of hours the sun shines or doesn't shine. There isn't a book or a manual on how to prep a track and what works for one track will not work on another track.
Biggest advantage of being former competitors turned promoters would be knowing what it feels like to be both a competitor and a fan. We apply the same principles to our teams and fans as we would to the businesses we ran prior to taking over the track. Competitors and fans want to feel special or important. And at our track, they are! We can't open our gates without either one.
To the opposite of that, the biggest disadvantage to being former competitors turned promoters is not having thick skin and unlimited funds. This is the hardest job we have ever had. Not just the physical aspect, but the emotional roller coaster as well. We put our heart and soul into the track and the events we host as well as the SCCT. It is hard when teams or fans share their opinions about what we should be doing, should've done or what they would've done., when they don't know what it takes on a daily basis. The realization that "you can't please everyone, every time" has never been truer. Unfortunately, the unhappy people are more vocal than the happy people. So, having said that, it's a good thing we don't have thick skin, because that can only lead to complacency which also makes that aspect an advantage.
Running a track there is always the chance of weather cancelations but to go through what everyone is going through right now is truly unchartered territory. Our anxiety is at an all time high. This is our livelihood and if we don't race, we can't earn a living. We are shut down through May and will take it week by week and day by day moving forward. We don't want to contribute to the spread and certainly want our fans, teams and employees to be safe and healthy. When and if we are allowed to open this season, we will try to reschedule as many missed events as possible, but let's face it, without people working, not too many people are going to have the disposable income to pay for tickets to see a race, buy a hot dog and a soda. On the flip side the teams will have less money for entry to our venue or for parts for repairs. This is a horrible situation for everyone and nothing like we have ever seen in our lifetime. This is a challenging time and our hope is we will be able to get back to some sort of normalcy in the near future. The "new norm" might be different than what we are used to, but we will adapt to be able to continue to keep Placerville Speedway open.