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NASCAR president wants national touring and short tracks to cross-promote each other

NASCAR’s new president remains interested in having a cross-promotional relationship with short track racing

Terry Renna | AP

For the second time in as many press conferences, NASCAR Steve Phelps has stated a desire to strengthen the bond between the sanctioning body and the short track industry.

What form that begins to take remains to be seen.

On Sunday in his first-ever state of the sport address at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Phelps was asked if NASCAR intended to strengthen its standings with regional and local tracks across the country.

“Yeah, that’s a good question,” Phelps said. We’re obviously in discussions with Ron (Drager) and the folks at ARCA on a weekly basis about what the future of that series looks like … what the future of our touring series looks like. So, there is a lot of dialogue out there.”

NASCAR acquired the ARCA Racing Series back in May but has only released scant details about how that tour will be integrated into a structure that already contains the K&N Pro Series. It’s also worth mentioning that the NASCAR regional and touring banner also includes the Pinty’s Series in Canada, PEAK Series in Mexico, Whelen EURO in Europe, Whelen Modified Tour and the Whelen All-American weekly national championship.

READ MORE: Phelps says NASCAR needs to better connect with short track racing fans

Phelps says he wants to foster an environment where NASCAR national touring promotes short track racing and the favor is returned, essentially cross-promoting between their respective audiences.

“I have stated publicly, we are going to work with our short tracks to try to make sure that from a cross‑promotional standpoint, us promoting the short tracks and the short tracks promoting the big tracks, that’s something that we are interested in doing,” Phelps said. “As part of our 2019 plans, we will see work with our racetracks to make sure that we are working with them in order to find ways to drive attendance both ways.”

During the sport’s heyday, the Modern Era, R.J. Reynolds was the title sponsor for both the Winston Cup Series and the Winston Weekly Racing Series. It wasn’t uncommon to see top NASCAR national executives make the trip to different short tracks when their schedules allowed.

Even in more recent memory, longtime NASCAR communications executive Jim Hunter was a frequent supporter of short track racing. There isn’t an executive of that level that currently serves in a similar role.

However, acting NASCAR chairman and CEO, who replaced nephew Brian in August attended the Martinsville Late Model Stock 300 in October.

Phelps hopes to see what the future of NASCAR’s involvement in that discipline looks like.

“Is that a panacea for any attendance headwinds that we’ve had?  It’s not,” Phelps said. “But I think there’s a strengthening that will happen for both that will be good for both entities, will be good for motorsports in general.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Greg

    November 20, 2018 at 7:45 am

    If you want to get the short track fans involved, then get the drivers involved without charging outrageous appearance fees. Most local tracks can not afford to pay a driver 10,000 to come sign 500 autographs, make a quick speech, then leave.
    Back in the day, guys like Allison, Petty, Waltrip, Earnhardt, Rudd, just to name a few, would all show up at tracks to race. Often, a local driver would provide the cars. Yes, I am sure they got paid for appearances, but nothing that would hurt the tracks.
    Yes, guys like Kyle Busch still run local late model races. However, the tracks are paying them in excess of 15-20 thousand dollars just to show up. Snowball Derby, Winchester 400, and a few other races of that caliber, should NOT have to pay a driver 15000 just to show up to a race. Those drivers need to get back in the mindset that they would not have what they do if it were not for the short tracks that made them who they are.
    I have seen Kyle walk away from fans that wanted a pic or autograph at a short track. I have seen Brad K do the same. I have seen Tony Stewart tell a fan no, the autograph session was last night. (This was at 8am, and literally, no one else was around at the time) In the same respect, I have seen Eric show up at his home track with no introduction. With no police escort. With no appearance fee. He just came out on a Saturday night because he was in the area. He signed autographs, posed for pics, and even waved the green flag for the late model feature. (This was at Owosso Speedway.)
    Dont get me wrong, Brad, Kyle, Tony, Eric, Daniel,,,, all give back to local tracks to some extent. However, The short track fans are the same fans that can & will develop into Cup fans. How they are treated in person, can have a lot to do with how much of a fan they become. If NASCAR wants to grow the local tracks, and connect with them,,, they need to start by making accessibility to NASCAR easy and affordable like it once was.

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