NKA Conversation Topic: What makes for a great track?

Joe Janowski

New member
I'm preparing a track and series promoters workshop for the Kartmania show in a few weeks, and while doing that I thought this might be a good topic for many of you out there to give tracks ideas on how they can be better.

The question that I have for all of you is this; what makes you choose to go to one track in your area over another?

So...is it their prizes (money or trophies), grounds, bathroom, concession stand, the promoter, post-tech, the classes, the atmosphere, the entry fees? What is it that makes you want to go to one track and not another? What do you find consistently wrong as you travel from track to track? What could ALL tracks do better?

Some rules for this;
1. No naming of any tracks.
2. No bashing of any tracks...promoting is tough on a good day. They don't need to be hammered in public if you don't like what they do.
3. Let's stick to tracks and not talk about series...yet.
4. Be at least somewhat realistic. Don't say they should give out more money than they could possible take in, or have 5 star bathrooms.
5. Let's make a solid attempt to stay on topic...

This is a great chance for all of you to have a voice here. I'll be compiling this information and presenting it to all of the NKA tracks, all across the US, as part of our effort to make our sport better in the future than it is today.
 

awkart12

New member
We raced at 11 tracks this year, some good, some great, and others not so much. Here are my issues in order of irritability:

1. Well prepped track that is as consistent as possible from week to week and is run in with a track vehicle. Nothing worse than making the Karts run the track in.
2 Start on time and stay on time. many of the smaller tracks start hours late, and run even later. A show that should be over by 11:00 sometimes finishes in the early morning hours. Sucks when you have to drive.
3. Consistent calls and professional flaggers that pay attention. This is paramount for safety. Organizaed track do this well, some tracks they seem to be asleep.
4. Keep everyone honest with a great tech program. Nothing like being in the groove, running record laps just to get smoked by some back yard kart running like an open
5. Good PA System. Nothing like running through the pits like a crazy person because they switched classes or cut intermission short.
6. Decent staging area and good scale ramp.
7. Friendly and helpful track staff.
 

Joe Janowski

New member
Solid points.

You nailed two of the biggest for me, which is staying on time, and making sure your customers (racers) know what is going on (i.e. good PA system and somebody actually using it). I've actually missed a main before when they shortened a break and I didn't hear it due to an almost non-existent PA system. Really frustrating.

The other points are good as well. Consistent calls tech are things that we're working on providing better training for our tracks to use to teach how to properly make on track calls, and tech room calls. No matter what though, when 'judgement' calls are being made there are going to be errors.
 

racer47

New member
I agree with the points stated above 100%. If you are looking for opinions on the track layout ..... I would like to see tracks that require the driver to lift in the corners. This follow the leader, wide open, one groove racing is terrible. Its typically follow the leader until someone gets mad enough to bump him out of the way.
 

Ted Hamilton

Helmet Painter / Racer
consistent rules enforcement, no conflicts of interest, food available on-site, same staff week to week, quick results posting, quick lineup posting, no preferential treatment to some subset of racers, reduced number of classes, other non-racing entertainment, family-friendly facilities, local broadcast via radio of announcer...
 

Pavehawk

New member
1. Pick a starting line and stick with it. If the leaders cant get it right after two trys, send them to the back.
2. Smooth paths to the grid
3. If you have rules enforce them to the T. If your rules say no fairings in jr1 then no fairings. If it says double nut weights then double nuts it is.
4. Prep your track. If you use karts to pack it in then all karts pack it. No mud on the kart then they dont race.
5. Its a black flag... Use it.
6. Drivers should not have to buy a pit pass or atleast give them a reduced cost one. they are the reason everyone else is at the track.
7. The flagman should make the call and the owner should stand behind him on it. It should not be up for debate.
 

thechada75

New member
1. Have a payout sheet showing how much the payout is with X number of karts.
2. Run establish rules with whatever class the track runs, i.e., open class run the UAS rules, Clones run the AKRA rules etc. and Enforce said rules.
3. Running water for Bathrooms. The ladies needs a clean nice bathrooms and not a Port-a-Potty.
4. Run times limits and enforce them without exception.
5. Have a unbiased Tech person. IF a track can't afford one, They need to close.
 

W5R

New member
I agree with most of the points above. But to answer your questions, things i look for at tracks i choose to race at depends on a few things they should have:

1. Consistent rules and Tech so everyone is on a level playing field
2. Flagman who is competent and knows what the black one is and how to use it
3. Organized line-ups and classes
4. Decent payouts to make the trip worthwhile
5. A good smooth racing surface that is prepped the correct way, not ran in with karts
6. Tracks who treat everyone fairly and dont cater to a select few racers

Also, tracks should have all of the things you listed rather than one or two, such as a good promoter, concessions, bathrooms, low/reasonable entry fee's and gate fee's, nice track personnel and good racing atmosphere.
 

XXX#40

2A supporter
I think all these people should try and open a track and run it, there perspectives will change
 

racer47

New member
I think all these people should try and open a track and run it, there perspectives will change

I dont think anything stated above is too much to EXPECT from any perspective. Like someone above said, if you cant afford a tech man.... you should close. Take $1.00 from every gate fee and apply it toward paying an unbiased tech man. Also, an old $500 car with some old racing slicks can work in a track better than karts or a water truck. Just my $0.02
 
As I am somewhat a dreamer at heart, I have some good ideas on what my dream track would look like.

LARGE AMOUNT OF RUNOFF
Soft wall system after the large runoff
Fair, but not excessive, banking in the turns
Relatively level parking area, with paved access roads and adequate drainage to handle summer thunderstorms
Paved grid area large enough to handle big national events
Large number of trash barrels, with periodical emptying during large events
Enough separation between grid area and scale area that racers are about even in their pushing distance no matter where they park
PA system that has large number of speakers, so as to not have to jack the volume up so loud the neighbors complain
Administrative building with sign-in area on bottom floor with multiple windows, reducing lines
Concession stand fairly centrally located, with fair prices and adequate number of workers, also reducing lines. Chicken tenders, fresh (not frozen) french fries, hot dogs, corn dogs, and barbeque sandwiches
Second floor of administrative building with control center/scoring/announcer areas. Primary AND secondary scoring computers, if possible.
First floor of same large building with permanent restroom facilities, several stalls in each.
4'x6' flush-mounted scale deck with large LED display, calibration label clearly displayed
Tech shed large enough to place around 6 karts for post-race inspections
Corner workers in the infield with electric starters at each end
If your kart won't start after an adequate try, or is wrecked, it will be taken to the infield until after the race is complete. No push buggies on the track delaying the race
Paramedics AT THE TRACK WHENEVER KARTS ARE RUNNING
Capable, talkative, personable announcer, perhaps named Phil
Consistent, capable flagger
Well-trained and repeatedly rehearsed scoring crew
50/50 drawings every week, with half the winnings going to a Jr. or No-Pro class that is randomly drawn during the drivers meeting for tranparancy
Special nights during the season to open the track up to civic and charity organizations. On off weeks, host a benefit dinner or 5K.
Utilize Bob's and social media to get word out to the racers. That being said, be diligent in updating race results as well as points quickly

DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO DO, AND TREAT EVERYONE FAIRLY, AS IF EACH RACER WERE YOUR MOTHER

Dream over- back to our regularly-scheduled program, already in progress...
 

Ted Hamilton

Helmet Painter / Racer
I think all these people should try and open a track and run it, there perspectives will change

I've helped run a track.....it's much easier if the particapants are a "club" who take some ownership of the facility and are expected to help out. Otherwise you're forced to use meager profits and countless man hours to maintain a 2nd-rate facility (from what I've seen). There are very few "national level" tracks around from what I can tell. And don't get me wrong, I'm happy to race in someone's backyard if I have to, but this thread is about what makes a GREAT track, not simply a bare dirt oval to have fun on.
 

Joe Janowski

New member
Lots of good info here. I'm seeing a few things that pop up fairly consistently, which is what I was hoping for.

For those of you that are reading this, don't be afraid to put your 2 cents in.

On thing to keep in mind, and something that I'm trying to work through myself, is that there is some sort of unwritten rule that promoters aren't allowed to make any money. One of the vital needs of our sport is to have tracks open and functioning. Do you think this is true? What is acceptable for a promoter to make? It's hard to have a great track without any cash to make it that way. Thoughts?
 

Joe Janowski

New member
And ONEHARDHEAD, you've just described what might just be the perfect kart track. Any ideas on the cost to build that sucker? I'd think deep into the 6 figures.
 
And ONEHARDHEAD, you've just described what might just be the perfect kart track. Any ideas on the cost to build that sucker? I'd think deep into the 6 figures.

Preliminary estimates are in the 3-5 million dollar range. A lot depends on the tract of land used and amount of grading required. My daydream was to invest 5 up front and reserve 5 more over the first 5 years to get established, making it a total of 10 million in the 5 year plan. This was all, of course, dependent on one major factor- a winning lottery ticket.
 

XXX#40

2A supporter
I dont think anything stated above is too much to EXPECT from any perspective. Like someone above said, if you cant afford a tech man.... you should close. Take $1.00 from every gate fee and apply it toward paying an unbiased tech man. Also, an old $500 car with some old racing slicks can work in a track better than karts or a water truck. Just my $0.02

I built and ran one of the nations premier tracks in its day, Clay city in KY
A qualified tech man will want $150.00 or more for 1 day at the track.
remember $4.50 of every pit pass goes to personal insurance, this has to be paid on EVERYONE that enters the track not just racers.

I agree a pack car should be on the tracks part, but it still takes fuel to run it as well as paying the person to drive it

On race day it takes a minimum of of 7 people to work the track and @ 8 bucks an hour for 12-14 hours thats $672.00 at a min. that has to be paid, then theres the whole tax thing with employee's and workers comp
Fuel for water and pack vehicles $50.00 and thats way on the bottom end.
Liability insurance will cost somewhere about $500.00 a year
Property taxes, also lease payments have to be considered because the majority of the tracks are on leased land and not owned
The electric bill for 1 day running the proper lighting will cost about $175.00
Wont even discuss how much the lights and having them installed costs, that cost alone will make the majority forget opening a track
Water bill for concessions and bathrooms.
The amount of work that goes on while there are no racers around can run into big money as well, and all of this has to come from racers, and the owner has to make a little bit, or its not worth the effort
 
Joe, one of the things you mentioned was the amount of money a promoter would make. I am a firm believer in promoters being able to clear a profit. If they don't, they won't last long. That being said, there is a fine line between making a profit and fleecing your racers as well. Little things mean a lot. Reasonable gate and entry fees will mean more participants, which translates to more profit in the end. Don't try to get all your investment back in a couple of weeks- it's just not realistic, and may well result in lower kart counts and disgruntled racer base.

Concessions are another matter as well. Most of us are conditioned to mediocre concessions at a premium price. That need not be the case at all. A concession stand at a regular track is no different from a local fast food restaurant, in that word of mouth (some pun intended) will make or break your business. Our local high school concession stand is a prime example. They only charge $1 for a canned soda, $1.50 for a bottled water, $1 for chips/candy, $2 for a freshly make hot dog, and added french fries this year. The average take for a Friday night football game is between $1500 and $3000, depending on crowd. Take into consideration we are a very small 1A school (they don't have a half A) with a football team that isn't very good.

All things considered, it is ultimately up to the individual promoter to turn a profit. If a promoter fills his pits consistently and still doesn't clear any money, there's something wrong. A few of the touring series have created an environment of excess, both in the payouts and the overhead involved. I understand that large purses draw racers, but everything done in moderation may be better for all parties involved.
 

XXX#40

2A supporter
Joe, one of the things you mentioned was the amount of money a promoter would make. I am a firm believer in promoters being able to clear a profit. If they don't, they won't last long. That being said, there is a fine line between making a profit and fleecing your racers as well. Little things mean a lot. Reasonable gate and entry fees will mean more participants, which translates to more profit in the end. Don't try to get all your investment back in a couple of weeks- it's just not realistic, and may well result in lower kart counts and disgruntled racer base.

Concessions are another matter as well. Most of us are conditioned to mediocre concessions at a premium price. That need not be the case at all. A concession stand at a regular track is no different from a local fast food restaurant, in that word of mouth (some pun intended) will make or break your business. Our local high school concession stand is a prime example. They only charge $1 for a canned soda, $1.50 for a bottled water, $1 for chips/candy, $2 for a freshly make hot dog, and added french fries this year. The average take for a Friday night football game is between $1500 and $3000, depending on crowd. Take into consideration we are a very small 1A school (they don't have a half A) with a football team that isn't very good.

All things considered, it is ultimately up to the individual promoter to turn a profit. If a promoter fills his pits consistently and still doesn't clear any money, there's something wrong. A few of the touring series have created an environment of excess, both in the payouts and the overhead involved. I understand that large purses draw racers, but everything done in moderation may be better for all parties involved.
I was in the boosters at our High school, and watched the numbers from the concessions at our track, and the football made more money than the track did, most of the concessions at tracks couldnt pass a Health Dept. inspection
And we are like you we are on the small end of 1A our team only had 20 players on the roster.
 

Ted Hamilton

Helmet Painter / Racer
OneHardHead/XXX#40 -- One thing you may be missing about the promoter making money is that KARTING IS A PARTICIPANT SPORT, NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT. Sorry, that's just the way it is for now. If a promoter wants to make serious money without fleecing the racers, they need to draw a crowd. That means 3 hr. shows MAX with only 4-5 classes, great racing with known personalities, and good facilities and food. But if you simply mean a GREAT kart track for the racers, read all the above posts. For my part, I'd like to see less money racing, more points racing, and big prizes at end of year that reward loyalty, not out-of-town money chasers... Thinking for the long haul will make the track and sport better....imo, of course. For a great participant-driven track, it'd still be nice to have less classes, more laps, and reasonable ($30-40) entry fees with no gate fee for the racers. Gate fees are dumb, IMO. Sell pit passes to those who need to be in there, fence off that area so spectators can't enter without 'em, and have bleachers and concessions for the spectators...
 
Keeping pit/racer area separate from spectator area is unrealistic and largely unenforceable. Generic gate fees are there for just that reason. Our tracks are completely different than stock car tracks in this regard. Most, if not all of my ideas are generated with a racer's viewpoint in mind as well as trying to be practical from a promoter's viewpoint. Like all small business models, a large amount of startup capital would be required, as noone could possibly hope to be profitable in just a few races. The old addage goes something like "Plan for the worst, hope for the best", right?
 
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