by Ryan Dye–
Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Va. knew something had to change. With attendance down – a trend that currently plagues more than just the small-town short track racing scene – ownership decided to try something new.
The track announced in November their plans to cut their ties with NASCAR, choosing not to renew their NASCAR sanction for the 2018 season. A NASCAR sanction means the track was on the schedule for a NASCAR sanctioned event. Without renewing the sanction, the track will no longer have weekly points-paying oval races.
“Track ownership made the decision,” said Public Relations Manager JW Martin. “A lot went into it…and it was ultimately decided that the racing aspect of our program was unsustainable moving forward.”
In its place, the track released a seven-event schedule running from April through September consisting of special one-off events. Of those events, the annual monster truck show – which according to Martin sold nearly 7,500 tickets alone last year – will make its return along with two demolition derbies.
While the cost of the sanction itself played a role, the speedway also didn’t want to raise their prices to the fans of the track.
“In a way, the tracks and the race teams, they cannibalize one another (for sponsorship money) or you pass that along to your race fans,” Martin said. “You begin to up-charge them for concessions and tickets, and we did not do that.”
In 2017, the track announced that they would discontinue bracket racing at the drag strip situated just behind the backstretch in favor of more emphasis on the Friday Night Fury drag racing that allows amateurs to race their street vehicles.
A controversial decision at first, Martin noted that attendance actually increased last season, which led to the track choosing to bring back standard bracket racing for the 2018 season.
While Martin doesn’t know if that success will be replaced on the oval track, it was still something ownership had to try.
“The track ownership, their position on it is every year is a new year. They are always revisiting the business model and I think anything is possible for 2019.”