Anyone, who followed along with the recent PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis, could not help but notice a recurring theme noted in many of the interviews conducted from the floor of the Indiana Convention Center. The cost of racing was mentioned over and over again by national touring series drivers and regional racers alike. One thing virtually everyone said was that the cost of racing is, and has always been, in the process of skyrocketing.
Those rising costs, however, seem to have hit high gear of late as engineering has become more and more of a feature in the parts, pieces and components that go onto Dirt Late Model race cars. And it isn’t just racers who think about the ever-increasing costs involved in the sport. Those who rely on selling the equipment needed to race also must consider how much things cost in order to not price their customers out of business.
Marshall Green owns and operates Georgia-based Capital Race Cars. He says that cost considerations are a difficult factor in the building of race cars because customers want a machine capable of winning and good components are essential to accomplish that goal. And those top-of-the-line components often come with a significant price tag. At the same time, however, those in the market must be able to afford the finished product.
“The cost of racing has definitely gone up a lot in the last ten years, from shocks to the materials that the cars are built from,” Green explained. “All the parts and pieces have more quality than they used to. The industry as a whole continues to build better parts and pieces each and every year. The cars continue to get faster and details mean more now than they ever have.”
Green pointed out that car builders could cut corners on materials or components but doing so would hurt the quality of the final product. That, in turn, would result in a car that is not as fast as those being built by the competition. And after all, racers want cars that give them the best chance of beating the competition.
“We try to build the very best piece using the very best parts and pieces,” Green insisted. “I could build a cheaper race car, but I wouldn’t be building a better race car. We don’t have a lot of options on parts and pieces. We took the time to try to dissect out the best parts and pieces so you can get the best bang for your buck. We don’t go overkill on things that would be a waste of money, yet we don’t sacrifice on something that we know is the best for our cars.”
Green believes that paying for the best product upfront will deliver dividends in the long run.
“To justify the cost of race cars today, you’ve really got to look at what you’re getting,” the former Dirt Track World Championship winner driver said. “I don’t want to build cheap, throw-together race cars and flood the industry because I take these race cars personally. When they leave here, I feel like they represent my name and the company’s name so I don’t want to put out a product to just pour them out the door. I think that’s the reason why we’ve had the success we’ve had.”
Sanford Goddard of Knoxville-based Warrior Race Cars says that concerns over the cost of racing are not something new. He believes that the current time is barely any different from times of the past and the sport will endure through this evolution of expense as it always has.
“I’ll give you an old theory that I heard years ago and it rings a bell every time I hear somebody talk about the expense of racing getting out of hand,” Goddard recalled. “It’s something an older gentleman in racing once said to me – ‘In the 40s and 50s we couldn’t afford to race and we still can’t afford it today but we’re still doing it’. Racing is always going to be here because people will find a way to do it. They’ll complain about how much it costs but it gets right back to the basic thing and that is that we’ll all be racing.”
*Richard Allen is a writer/editor for InsideDirtRacing.com. That site presents feature stories, photos and live updates as part of its coverage of dirt racing in the east Tennessee region as well as throughout the southeast. Also, follow @RichardAllenIDR on Twitter.