Well folks it seems as if the Terre Haute Action Track had its first major victory last night for the Tony Hulman Classic.
Alas I wasn't there to see it, but from everything I've heard from those that were there, it was a huge win for the promoters and the fans alike. A big crowd on a week/school night is a huge boon for this track, which recently had struggled to get a good crowd even on a summer weekend.
Though I know it's been a bit of a pain for drivers and crews to have to unload and haul cars and equipment into the infield pit area, I think it's made a huge impression on younger fans and the nostalgic veterans of the dirt scene.
Watching the crews work feverishly on a car to get ready for the A-Main after qualifying from the 'B' is something that needs to be seen to be believed. How much elbow grease, know-how and grit goes into preparing one of these horsepower monsters is often lost on the average fan sitting in the bleachers when the pit area is a long way away. But when you can get up close and personal with these guys, it's amazing how much easier it is to develop favorite drivers.
And isn't that what it's all about?
The fans are the driving force behind all those sponsership dollars and having a chance for those youngsters to get to know these drivers is going to build up a fanbase to support dirt racing for years to come.
As a kid in this area, I developed my favorites like any kid would, maybe it's a great looking car that grabs your attention, but mostly it was meeting these guys and getting a handshake or an autograph. When you get older, it may not make as big an impression, but I've still got an autographed picture of a 9-year old me and Steve Kinser taken at Bloomington that I still cherish.
He quickly became a favorite of mine because he took the time to talk to me a little and for a minute that has lasted a lifetime, I felt a connection to 'The King.'
It's the kids playing on the hill outside of Lincoln Park or Bloomington, the ones throwing the football around the infield at Terre Haute that will fuel this sport long after I'm a greyhair.
And that makes me happy.
There's a lot of money involved in racing regardless of whether you drive a bomber, a sprint car, a modified, late model or sportsman these days, but hopefully drivers will always make time for the fans that sit it in the stands.
I haven't met a lot of bad guys in the sport, but the good guys are the ones that tend to stand out the most with me. If your quick with a smile and to share a joke with your fans, you'll leave a lasting impression that'll make at least a small inroad to continuing to pack the stands.
A full grandstand at Terre Haute is a sight to behold and it does my heart good to hear that Thursday's night went a long way towards re-establishing THAT's place as one of the shrines of the sport.