As we near the end of the year, we reflect on what has happened in the dirt racing industry and what is to come. As rules and regulations change, reflection comes more in a cumulative effect, opposed to yearly, due to major changes in dirt racing. Over the last 20 years, the sport has changed drastically. Let’s take a look back and see how different the sport has become; whether it has changed for good or bad, is your own opinion.
This is one of the biggest changes the sport has seen thus far. Using one of the largest events at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, you once seen car counts in the low 200s. Now, you are lucky to see if an event reaches 100 participants. Local shows have also taken a hit, in the past you have seen car counts in the near 40s, it has shrunk by half that size in the last 2 decades. There are reasons behind this, and it doesn’t have to do with lack of interest. The price of racing has risen drastically, driving people away from the sport instead of towards it.
Race Track Closings
If there aren’t any tracks to race on, there isn’t any dirt racing. In the last 20 years, many tracks have closed due to lack of maintenance and participation. A state that was once known for racing, Kentucky; has closed down many race tracks that were once heavily populated. Bluegrass Motor Speedway, Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway and Galasco and Barren County Speedways have all closed down in the past 20 years. This was a big hit on the dirt racing community. Along with other local tracks closing, taking away from the racing scene in small towns.
Rise of Mega Series
With the rise of mega series, racers now only pick a select amount of races to attend. Local and regional meets were more common in the earlier years, due to the lack of mega series for more popular drivers, but as time progressed local races began to dwindle and mega races began to rise. Now, two series dominate and control 80-90% of events in Dirt Late Model, almost every national driver will commit to at least one of them. The reason? They bring in all the money. If you consider yourself a national racer, it doesn’t make sense to not compete at a major series any more.
Although the sport has changed in the last 20 years, there is something to learn from it. People who love what they do, will always make a way to adapt to the changes so they can still participate. Dirt racing like many other sports, will go through changes that feel like it is putting a damper on the sport, but it will eventually evolve into exactly what it is destined to be.