Who Wants To Promote A Race?

Greg

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Enough crying about CORR already. It's time for someone to take the reigns and put on an event. I will go over a very rough outline of what needs to be done to put on an event that people can enjoy and will make the organizer/promoter money. I am sure that I will miss many things, but this is just to show a part of the work it takes to organize a race. It is not hard to do but will set you back somehwere around $30-50k for a small event that should generate around 2000-5000 spectators.
There are two different options to putting an event together:
1, an existign venue...ie, Perris Farigronds, LA farigrounds, Victorville, etc
2, bare land

An exsisting venue will have many advatages, seats, restrooms, ticket booths, food vendors, basically all the physical attributes needed to put an event together. But these tools will cost, typically around $15-20K just for the venue. I've never priced a large venue (ie Anaheim, but im sure that it's 100s of $1000s). This will usually give you one week of time to construct the race track. For $20k you will usually get to use the ticket booths, thier dirt (yes some places will make you rent the dirt too), restrooms, PA, box seats, usually some promotion (like banner space on the strees near the event etc). You also usually get thier use permit from the city, and they can usually provide insurance at a price. You see insurance is very, very difficult to attain (not overly expensive tough). You also get water use, and maybe some use of thier heavy equipment as well as electricty for lights, k-rails, barriers, etc. They will also charge a clean-up fee depending on the attendance.
What you DON'T get is security, ticket takers, money takers, Ambulance serv., track workers, equipment and operators, insurance, some tracks are union (LA Fairgorunds) and you are required to use their employees to operate the heavy equipment. They usually suck, so you need to still pay them but bring in your own operators.
Lets look at the track itself. There is usually dirt nearby, as you are most likley not the first promotor to use this place. You will typically need 1 small dozer, a skip loader, 2-2.5k water truck, 950-ish loader, maybe a grader. If you need to move the dirt, you will need a day of dump trucks. Most equipment places will give you weekly rates on anything, but you still looking at around $400-1000/day for each item rented. Add $200/day for an operator and $100-200/day fuel. Your run times will typically be 1/2 week to build a track, but it still adds up to anywhere from $12-20k to build a track. Most exisiting venues are near rental yards, so move-in/move-out can usually be waived if you rent enough stuff.
Ok, now you've got the best track in the world...1/2 mile, huge jumps, great berms, good dirt. What's next? The facility. You will need to hire ticket takers. Most venues will provide them, but you WILL loose money. You will also need, at minumim, 5 key people to organize. One to place event-specific vendors (companies relating to the specific event ie. PCI, King, etc) and work with said vendors to insure they are happy with their placement (and they are never happy). Two, a person to orgainze the pits and keep each racer from taking 200 parking spaces. You will also need someone to run the pit gate. This person should know the event well as everyone "knows so-an-so" and will try to get in free. Three, Race Director. This person is in charge of getting the racers to the track and racing. He can also be the tech and comp-revue-board. He has a very important job and is typically not liked by the end of the race. Four, track director. This is the guy incharge of the actual track and keeping it race-ready as well as getting broken/overturned cars off the track. Five, Race Co-Ordinator, this person will handle everything else...vendor issues, money issues, people issues, registration issues, etc. This person can also handle media. This is the bare minimum people to pull off an event. You will usually need at least 2-5 people to run registration efficiently. And one very trusted person to handle money. Typically picking up from the front and back gates and securing the cash. This person should also be in charge of payout, and be double checked by the promotor himself. The good news is that most of the people will be friends and help by volunteering. These people are ubber-valuble and must be treated well. If not add the cost of hiring some expensive help. You will also need course workers. Again, volunteers are the way to go. BTW, these people should get unlimited food and beverage while out there as well as passes for thier friends/family. You will also need a communications system (costs thousands to buy, nearly thousands to rent).
Now your set-up to race, but what else. Oh yeah, Security. Depending on location and time of day will determine the amount of personnel needed. At ROR we had three people, one was armed and that was around $800/event. But we didnt allow alcohol...therefore, no fights no problems. Orange Show we used 15-20 guards and it was approx $2500 for their service. You will need an announcer...about $200-1000 depending on if he is local or needs to be flown-in and have accomodations.
You have all your track issues worked-out, now how to get asses in the seats. Promotion. This is where you can spend yourself to the red very quickly. There are basically three common ways to access the public, PRINT, RADIO, TV. Well, the sky is the limit here. There are some efficient ways to advertise...trader magazines, local sceene 'zines etc. Some are free, but most are not too expensive. For racing, these tend to hit our demographic...yes efficient and effective. There are major magazines...lots of money and poor results. Newspapers are usually good, hit a new audience but very local. Radio, usually good, but can run well over $5-10k per week per station. TV...really not sure on this as I've never looked into it. There are also flyers, posters, etc. So figure on spending between $8-15k on advertising.
Now the racers. You NEED them. I belive a promotor should guarantee a minimum payback. Depending on the expense to the racers. At least $1000 per class. So if you have 5 classes....minimum $5000 to the racers. I dont belive in ever paying a racer to show though. The rest of the racers payback should come form the entry fees.
So you've spent the better part of $50k to put your event together, what can you expect to recoup? Well, let's see who gets what. The venue typically gets parking..all of it. Rule of thumb it that if you own the venue, no charge for parking (You listening CORR???). Concessions, usually the venue gets all of it...beer, hotdogs, all the crap. You can set-up your own booth to sell shirts and stuff, but usually no food. If you dont want alcohol, you can buy that option....around $10-20k. The back gate and racer entries are yours. As well as the front gate. But you can negotiate the upfront venue costs for a split of the gate...but usually not until you have a good track record. And im sure there are plenty of starving promotors that give up the complete gate for a very low venue fee.
Im not going to do all the math here, but after one hard week of stress and about 20 hours sleep, the promoter should have, with 3000 seats filled at $20 ea, between 0 and $15k in his pocket. The racers SHOULD get all the entry fee back if the event charges an entry fee (see desert racing is different). The venue will make $30-40k even if you loose money.

Now I will talk a bit about building your own venue. This entails all of the above issues. You will not have to pay an exsisting location, but will be required to provide Porta-Poties ($2-4k), Dumpsters, room for parking, entrance/exit from the track as well as securing the facility, Temp. fencing ($1-2 per foot), bring in k-rails ($50-100 ea and transport, insurance does/will require them), insurance ( not as much as you might think, figure $1500-3000 for your first event, but finding the insurance is the hard part), traffic control, fire/abulance (if this is remote it can cost $$. and keep in mind that if the ambulance needs to leave, no racing until it returns), seating (a big hill works great...look at Crandon), equipment (see above about costs, the farther away, the more expensive). Now heres a big one...WATER. Water can cost alot, last time i checked is was $1.50/750 gallons..not too much for the water itself...maybe 30 loads at $8ea. But the city may charge $1000-5000 for a usage permit. And distance to the nearest hydrant may require mulitple trucks to keep the venue dust free (more $$). Depending on the location, this may make or break a venue. Food vendors are easy, and you will get a cut of thier net. There are plenty of burger/pizza shops that will show up. They can also sell beverages. You will need to get a permit for the sale of beer though, and that will cost more money. You will often need to bring in power, you can get temp. power from the city, but will require a permit and fees. Best bet is to rent a 50-100kw generator. You will also need to assemble some form of PA system. Last but not least....PERMITS. You will need a land use permit, this requires going in front of city councel and hoping they want you to be there. Racing usually isnt what cousel-people want to hear about. You will have to pay them too....typically $1000-5000/event. They usually want a cut from the gate too. You will also need to get your track and venue approved by the fire cheif....not easy. This may require clearing surrounding areas of weeds and trash. And a generous donation to them helps greatly. As well as the local Police. Remember, there are dust and noise laws, you must not infringe on these or your event will get shut-down. Your job is not over after the event either, there will be at least one day of clean-up to be done. The best part of having your own venue is that the cost get amoritized over the whole season and the cost/event will really start to drop.

I typed all this just to shed some light on what it takes to put an event together. I hope this will give the "we need an event here or there" people something to think about, but to also offer some insight to future promotors. Now, I have never done anthing as big as CORR or WSORR but I have succeeded at what many people thought could never be done (and never lost money doing it). There is a HUGE oportunity right now for a small, but thrify, promotor to try his hand at an event. And I belive success would certainly be acheavable.
Also, keep in mind that innovation is key here, we have all now seen what ego and peer pressure can do to an organization. The racers are your comodity, with out them you have nothing. The fans should pay for the event and, in turn, get a great show from racers that are happy to be there. Now someone needs to get going so I have some racing to watch. If anyone needs help I will offer all that I know.
 
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Greg

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Greg
You said "It's time for someone to take the reigns and put on an event"
Are you that someone?

Not anymore. I would love to run a track again, but my company takes priority. I am very grateful for the oportunities I had at ROR and other events we organized and wouldnt trade the experience for the world though.
 

D4D

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There are a number of people working on various things right now, the youghest part is the current economy as it has everyone a little strapped but on the positive side there is a lot of demand. Greg I will call you today while I am driving there is some stuff I can share.
 

Greg

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The economy is a horrible right now, but at the same time is good for grass-roots organizations as well as spectator turn-out. Many familes are NOT going to Glamis or snow sking as thier vacation budgets are smaller, but they DO have enough coin to take the rug-rats to a local race. Most promotors are so gung-ho about getting sponsors, this is where, I belive, they fail. Any event should be run with the assumption that there is none, or very little sponsor money. This insures a good event and any sponsor money is a bonus and can go towards improvements, payback, etc. If the event cant support itself, then it shouldnt happen.period..especially in this economy. On the other hand, a properly run and planned event can be very rewarding to the people involved. Kind of like actually racing, you typically need the money to build and race the car first. Then as you prove yourself, the sponsor money will follow. This works the opposite way with the city and insurance, the longer you exsist and make the city look good, the less they demand from you and the lower your insurance fees.
I have watched 4 seperate organizations run themselves into the ground, and everyone had great intents and good racer turn-outs but they failed do to poor planning and/or their egos that made them defunct.
The economy will certainly prohibit a few of the large teams to run as they require sponsor money to operate and their sponsors will put thier money on hold until the spending is justified. This is where the promotor needs to check his ego at the door. He may not get the big names to show (at first) but the small teams will be there and support him as they bring thier families and friends (who are typically local) and will fill the seats. They will also continue to fill the seats as time goes on. I think many of the promotors forget this and swing for a homerun but cant quite get on base. There are many, many racers that are just looking for a venue to run, at a fair price. This is a great time to make this happen.
 

ditchrunner

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This is a great message Greg.
Thanks for putting the outlines and base numbers down. Our club has been putting on various competitions for 30+ years, and we make money every year because people know we will put on a show and pay the racers back.
We've tried to get bigger (regional - not national) names to come and it has never paid to do it. The ones that did come were demanding and didn't put their first effort forward for a "local" event.
We've settled on putting on as good a show as we can with the local talent (and there are some good builders/drivers around here) and make a little money each time. We also keep the entry fees down for racers and spectators as much as possible. Good, cheap, family entertainment.
It is hard to get someone to step up each year because we are all volunteers and it IS a LOT of work. Someone always does, though.

You also had a good point about families needing an inexpensive day/night out of motorsports with the change in the economy. Hopefully that will increase the draw for our little grassroots events and local tracks.
 
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