This year the Workshops celebrated its 40th anniversary with a theme of looking ahead and embracing new media and technology. For two and a half days, promoters networked with each other, listened to speakers and got a chance to visit with vendors that service the industry.
The first day began on a somber note as the Workshops paid tribute to a pair of icons in the racing world that were lost this year.
First was Chris Economaki, who has been called the Dean of American Motorsport Journalists. The other was Bob Newton, who started the Hoosier Racing Tire Company.
Delivering the eulogy was Dr. Roger Marsh, executive director of the National Fellowship of Raceway Ministries. He explained that both had a passion for what they did and both had long time friends they met in the sport.
This year, Racing Promotion Monthly editor Stewart Doty had a program focused on how the industry can move forward as current economic situations begin to ease. One topic that kept reccurring was the need to attract younger fans to the sport.
The keynote speaker was Chris Blair, recently retired Vice President in charge of Operations at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He compared how things were and how things have changed in the world of motorsports and how promoters have to think outside of the box.
"The old days are really over for good," he said.
Blair noted how the major league sports are creating an experience for their fans rather than just offering a game to watch. And he added there is a need to find new racing fans and capitalize on technology as well as the new types of media.
Doty, publisher of the trade newsletter Race Promoter's Monthly, focused on the theme that the industry has to move forward if it is to attract a new generation of fans. And that means making use of all that's new in media was well as social media.
One traditional part of the Workshops is what's called "The Fast 15." Many sessions begin with speakers giving 15 suggestions to promoters that they can use for their operations.
This time Doty used the Fast 15 to offer ideas as to how promoters can reach out and engage this new generation of potential fans.
In addition, three sessions focused on the legal aspects of operating a short track.
In one session, track owner and attorney Ron Bennett described how best to structure a business to avoid needless liability. Friday began with two legal sessions first with racing attorney Cary Agajanian then switching to a pro bono meeting where attorneys noted cases affecting racing as well as fielding questions from promoters.
In one session the mother/son team of Jody and Tom Deery related how her late husband Hugh along with NASCAR great Ned Jarrett and K&K Insurance helped the late Stu Reemer start the workshops 40 decades ago.
Tom Deery, who heads the World of Outlaws Sprint Car and Late Model series also illustrated that some of the challenges the industry faces today are the same ones they faced years ago.
He feels the future is bright for the industry as promoters have faced many challenges in the past, are a bunch of resourceful people and have prevailed.
Commenting on those in the business Mrs. Deery said, "We all have a disease and I hope we don't find the cure."
Along with the meetings, there is a small trade show for vendors that cater to the short track industry. Everything from tires, scoring and ticket systems as well as fuel, trophies and souvenirs for the fans are part of that show.
On Saturday, Doty once recapped the subjects covered, gave another "Fast 15" presentation and then later spoke on, "Out Smarting the Smart Phone."
He explained how major league sports are setting rules for their players and others are using licensing procedures to help protect their intellectual property and reputations.
He also gave some advice on various ways tracks can use social media to help deliver an experience and not just a race to their fans.
Another speaker was this year's Promoter of the Year Robert "Bob" Sargent, who runs Track Enterprises and promotes many events in the central states.
He feels the workshops are important and said, ""We just have to concentrate on more things geared to a younger crowd and get them interested in our sport. I'm very optimistic about the future, we have a unique sport and entertainment combined and I think that's a good thing for us."
Asked his thoughts on the future use of the new media Doty said, "I think it's a complex issue and everybody in every business environment in the country is feeling their way through the fog. The biggest marketers are trying to figure out how to harness the Internet, use Face Book and use other social media to sell products and services and we're doing the same thing. Because we're small business we might be behind some corporations but we're pretty crafty people and I think we'll get on top of it and use it to our advantage very well."
Despite losing some tracks this year Doty feels the industry is healthy but still faces some challenges in the coming year.
"There's a recession on and it's hurting everybody in every walk of life but the promoters are telling me most of them think they've found the bottom last year," he said. "I think the fans have deprived themselves enough to save a nickel and keep the family budget that they're to say, 'you know dog gone it, I'm going to go to a race.' I have no reason to be un-optimistic unless it rains everywhere in the United States."
Now the promoters are back at their homes and some are already planning to attend the next Workshop slated for Daytona Beach during NASCAR Speedweeks in February. And they'll be back in Reno December 5-7 of next year.
•Despite Sunday's weather a bunch of hardcore racers competed in the final event for SMRA's Nevada Championship. Unlike most visits to the Fernley Lion's Motocross Track is wasn't so much a sandbox but rather a muddy sandbox.
Most riders raced as hard as they could and those competing in the final few motos were blessed by sunshine as the sky cleared.
One of the closest races was in the second 125/250 junior moto as winner David Catalina prevailed after being chased the entire race by Caleb Frandsen.
After the win Catalina said, "He was very close the whole time and the it's really brutal out there. Your grips get wet and you can barely hang on."
Considering the conditions most riders managed to keep their bikes under them with a few exceptions. Only one crash had the medics responding but that rider was all right.
With the low rider count the racing ended early but everyone had a good time winding up their season.
Fernley Lion's Motocross Track - December 2
— (Beg.) 1. Treyton Maskaly, 2. Samuel McCord, 3. Landen Williams, 4. Isaac Frandsen
— (Jr.) 1. Lawson William, 2. Nakana Domingo, 3. Isaiah Frandsen
— (Open) 1. Lawson William
— (Beg.) 1. Trevor Marlin, 2. Justin McCord, 3. Damian Niemeyer, 4. Riley Blanchette, 5. Jared Mariscal
— (Beg.) 1. Bryan Doty, 2. Adam Pavlu, 3. Mason Marlin, 4. Nicholas Trainor, 5. Dustin Gledhill
— (Jr.) 1. Julian Domingo, 2. Jordan Beck, 3. Tyler Gunn, 4. Cooper Lara, 5. Jesse Mulock
— (Open/Supermini) 1. Tyler Gunn, 2. Julian Domingo, 3. Jesse Mulock
— (Jr.) 1. Jerry Fox
— (Int/Exp.) Carl Lucas
— (Jr.) 1. Lonnie Madsen
— (Exp.) 1. Chris Verderber, 2. Carl Lucas
— (Beg.) 1. Les Gledhill, 2. David Blanchette, 3. Kevin McCord, 4. Kevin Wick
— (Int.) 1. Kyle Wyant
— (Beg.) 1. Mikael Bertrand
— (Jr.) 1. Brett Fay, 2. Aric Lucas
Women - Ashtyn Shepard
Open/Schoolboy - 1. Gage Lemm, 2. Caleb Frandsen, 3. Brad Maga, 4. Jake Baldwin
— (Beg.) 1. Travis Wosick, 2. Tyley Von Aspern, 3. Colton Lara, 4. Cheyenne Wosick, 5. Bryson Borino
— (Jr.) 1. David Catalina, 2. Caleb Frandsen, 3. Brad Maga, 4. Cody Force, 5. Kash McPartlin
- (Beg.) 1. Timothy Trainor, 2. Timothy Pease