To some the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL event at the Dirt Track @ Route 66 Raceway (Chicagoland Speedway) might have seemed like a failure. In reality it could be considered the biggest success of the season.
Sure the spectator turnout wasn’t much. Especially when the 10,000 seat grandstand has 3000 fans scattered throughout the seating. The fact of the matter it was a hit within the motorsports community.
Here are some of the reasons why:
The internet broadcast, complete with five broadcast personalities, multiple cameras, a production crew, and a director that was continually calling the shots every second of the night, continues to raise the bar race after race. On Wednesday evening, the live internet feed was featured at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame to coincide with Jeremy McGrath’s (who was in Joliet racing his Monster Energy PRO-2WD) induction ceremony.
The sponsorship that Traxxas put forth with Kyle Busch Motorsports had the NASCAR community talking throughout the week. Sure it was cool to see Kyle running a PRO-2WD under the lights with the likes of RJ, McGrath, Rob Mac, LeDuc, and Taylor, but more importantly the event had other teams and companies that are already involved with professional motorsports taking a look at what TORC and short-course off-road racing is all about.
Why is this important? TORC and short course off-road racing need team owners that hire drivers similar to other forms of professional motorsports. The team owner concentrates putting all the pieces together, including marketing and sponsorship, while the driver concentrates on his efforts on the track. When this happens, the overall product at the track is improved, and the distinction between PRO and Sportsman becomes well defined.
There are established motorsports teams with the entire infrastructure in place that could add a short-course program with a minimal investment. These teams can also use the off-road market as another tool to complete a sponsorship contract, similar to the Traxxas – Kyle Busch partnership.
The spectator turnout on the second evening was probably three times larger than opening night. Which is incredible since the only advertising was done the weekend before at the track’s monthly demolition derby. If you were at the track Thursday night you saw representatives from ARCA, USAC, a few NASCAR truck teams, businesses from the motorsport community, and several members of the area drag racing community.
After talking a few first time fans in the pit area on Thursday, many were in attendance the night before. When they came back for the second night they made sure a few other friends came along as well. The fans in attendance are a part of a rather large motorsports community in the Joliet/Chicago area. Along with Chicagoland Speedway’s facility, right down the road is the Autobahn Country Club road racing facility as well as a few circle tracks like LaSalle and Rockford.
The directors of Chicagoland facility were blown away with every aspect of short course off-road racing and promised to find better dates for the TORC event in their calendar for the upcoming 2011 event. Yes, TORC will be back racing in the largest market, outside of NYC and LA, in the country.
Just like Oshkosh and Glen Helen, you build it and promote it; the spectators will come by the bus full. If the 2011 TORC event is promoted properly, Chicagoland will be looking for more grandstands.
That’s my take on this unique mid-week TORC off-road event.
If Rowdy and Robby (Gordon) both show up at Crandon next week that would really be a story.