Commentary

Marquis: I’m Finally Getting My Weeknight Race

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Anyone who follows me on social media or read my column about the oversaturation of Saturday night races in the Southeast knows how desperately I want to see a track run a weeknight race.

Carteret County Speedway, which is located just a few miles away from Emerald Isle, North Carolina, is giving me my weeknight race.  On Wednesday night, July 6th, Carteret County will turn the lights on for a Late Model race along with other local divisions.  Details are to be announced soon.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Andy Marquis, the managing editor of Short Track Scene, does Public Relations for Carteret County Speedway and is also the track’s announcer)

Carteret County Speedway’s track owner, Bobby Watson, made a name for himself in the karting world when Carteret was a dirt kart track.  He was known for taking risks and hosting big money races.

Racing on a Wednesday night is just that – a risk.  One that is worth taking since it works out pretty damn well for the rest of the country.

Right now, Carteret has the same problem many other tracks in the region suffer from.  Racing on Saturday nights, Carteret competes with Southern National Motorsports Park and Dillon Motor Speedway for cars outside the Jacksonville-New Bern area.  Racing on Wednesday night in July could potentially attract many drivers to Carteret for the first time.

The one problem Carteret has not had this year is fan support.  Saturday night saw the fourth race ever held at Carteret County Speedway with strong fan support once again and those fans were treated to an instant classic.

Carteret’s July 6th race could prove a point that weeknight racing will work in the Southeast region.  Or it could backfire.  Either way, it is a pretty wild gamble by a track that seems to survive on making wild gambles.

These are the wild gambles other track promoters may need to start taking if they hope to survive.

Right now, many tracks are only getting car counts in the single digits while racing on Saturday nights against other tracks getting single digit car counts or, even worse, racing on the same night as a track less than an hour away getting 25-30 cars a race (I’m looking at you, Orange County Speedway).

The logic works like this…

I think I’m going to open up a Pizza Hut right next to another Pizza Hut that just closed which is in the same shopping center as another Pizza Hut that is losing money.  I’m going to use the exact same ingredients and have the exact same menu as the other two and then, when my business fails, I’ll sit back bewildered by it.

This is the logic I apply when I hear Southampton Motor Speedway, for example, plans to open up and race on Saturday nights and compete with Dominion Raceway, Southern National Motorsports Park, East Carolina Motor Speedway and South Boston Speedway – to name a few.

Of course, there are serious doubts in Late Model Stock Car racing about the credibility (and mental stability) of Carrie Denney.  Many (most) racers feel Southampton will not open.  However, if it does, it would be competing with five other racetracks within 125 miles racing on the same night.

This.  Is.  Freaking.  Insanity.

Why not run on Friday nights like they did when the track was successful prior to closing down over a decade ago?  Why not take a chance and race on Sundays when literally nobody else within 150 miles is racing?

A lot of business owners have had to take gambles.  Some gambles were successful and others were not.  However, it’s better than playing it safe while sitting on the proverbial Titanic.  If a track is only getting five classes in most of their classes, why would anyone keep doing the same thing that isn’t working.

Insanity.

However, instead of continuing to beat this horse to death, I’m going take satisfaction in this one small thing in life and hope a weeknight race in North Carolina is successful so it can start a trend.

I’m finally getting my weeknight race. ☺

About Andy Marquis

Marquis comes from St. Charles, Maryland and has a widespread background in journalism, having covered politics in Washington and Maryland as well as nearly every form of auto racing, including NASCAR, IndyCar, AMA Motocross and IHRA Drag Racing. Now living near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Marquis covers Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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