By Jeremy McDonald
Racing at the local track brings the community together.
But with local tracks taking a hit recently with dwindling numbers in attendance and in racers themselves, it’s causing these local small tracks to slowly fade away from existence and from their home communities’ minds.
As Tony Latimer, a Bomber racer at All American Speedway puts it; the track is here, all it needs is support from the community.
"A lot of people don't know that this is here," said Latimer. "This is one of the prettiest tracks in California, it's a diamond in the rough.
"Everyone who races here loves it, but for whatever reason people aren't bringing their cars out so their family and friends aren't coming out and we need more of that."
Latimer said it's slowly changing back to how it was, however.
Dixon's Rich Lavallee, a street stock racer at AAS, has been a vocal component to how important it is to tie the community back to the track.
On the May 23 race, Lavallee gave an excited first-time fan his trophy dash plaque in hopes it'll leave a lasting impression of the track to the child.
“There was a family that came out here for the first time last week and they were totally excited by it,” said Lavallee. “You want to say that they’re nothing for kids to do, there’s nothing cheap; there’s nothing this.
“For 40 dollars you can bring a family of four up here to the races and watch a sport that takes dedication. It takes heart, it takes all this other stuff besides money and medals. You can get them involved in the local stuff here at the track.”
Vacaville's Mark Gardiner points out advertising and promotions as key to bring people out.
“What needs to be done personally is promotions,” he said. “If you promote, whether it’s newspaper, radio, website anything you got to put forth you got to be proactive in the promotion, promoting something like this.”
Gardiner points out an example from personal experience of advertising at a track he use to race at and the track had brought in 1,605 people and he compared it to All American in Roseville.
“The type of racing that I did before this, the very first race that we had, we had 1,605 people through the gates at ten bucks a head,” he said. “Unheard of and that’s not the pits and the racers.
“Just by advertising and going about it the right way. They don’t have anything here, right here the bottom that said, ‘Saturday nights April through September’, that’s the only advertising that gets done.”
Lavallee added that the little publicity can cripple small tracks like All American, so himself and Gardiener had an idea to draw racers and people in the stands by tossing their own money into the ‘winning purse’.
“(We’re) trying to get the word out on how fun it is,” said Lavallee. “(Gardiener) is my biggest competitor and I’m his biggest competitor and we have great race cars out here from Dan Farrington to (Andrew) Peeler who’s heart and soul is in racing.”
Gardiener agrees with Lavallee on the issue.
“We’re so close together, it doesn’t matter,” Gardiener said. “Last week, top five cars not that they were close together, they all qualify below a 15 second lap time.
“Anything in the 14’s is spectacular and they were five cars that qualify below a 15, so it’s a close, tight field. Anyone of these cars can win at any given time.”
Lavallee hopes the little they’re doing in house will spread to the local business around the track.
“A little goes a long way, you hear that saying a lot and you have local places, there’s so much stuff that we can do to save and better this track and we’re taking small steps right now to do it.
“I mean that’s what we’re doing trying to help out. We have some great sponsors on board. We’re trying to get out here, you may not see the stuff right off the bat, but if you’re in for the long haul, this is a great place to advertise.”
Sponsors like Barebones, OMG Yogurt, Lavallee’s personal business Buckhorn Bar and Grill, Gardiener’s personal business G & G Construction have peaked their ways into pit road.
During May 24th’s race, some racers jumped on board and tossed their own money into the purse winnings in the pits as well, the crowd even pitched in a few dollars for the F-4 Modifieds racers.
F-4 racers typically don’t get a winner’s purse.
The main thing that Lavallee, Gardiener and Latimer all have said about the track; once It’s gone, it’s gone for good.
So come out to the races. Even if it’s a one time deal. If it turns into a family tradition to go every week or every so often, great; if it turns into a few extra racers on the track as well, that’s great too.
The important thing is that short track racing, like the third-mile oval in Roseville, is good for the family, friends and the community.
“Short tracks are good for the community,” said Lavallee. “It’s good as a family-wholesome sport, you can’t be out here drinking and driving. You can’t be out here using and doing everything else. It takes dedication and a lot of kids nowadays don’t have that.
“So as far as the short track coming and going, I think it’s important that the track stays because it is wholesome family fun and that’s just bottom line.”
For more information about All-American Speedway, check out their website at http://www.allamericanspeedway.com/ .
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