Editorial: Achieving Motorsports Goals By Simply Saying Thank You

When used in conjunction, two of the simplest words in the English language can have a dramatic effect. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. This basic display of gratitude is far more powerful than most folks realize.

Regardless of the application, saying thank you can sometimes be the foundation for helping achieve your goals. The racing world is no exception to this concept. In fact, in this article, I’m going to explain how it applies to us all.

Never underestimate the power of telling someone “thank you.” (Heath Lawson photo)

Appreciating the Racers

On any given race night, there are countless things a race promoter might not be able to control. From weather delays to unexpected equipment failures, there’s a lot that can go wrong. However, one aspect we can manage each-and-every night is the appreciation shown to everyone who supports the show.

Competitors, sponsors, fans, and staff all appreciate being valued.

Making your fans and racers feel welcome can make all the difference.

For competitors, they frequently burn the midnight candle during the week to get ready to race on the weekends. More times than not, this includes grueling hours spent in the shop, after turning in a 10-hour workday at their daily job.

These same racers then make the weekly trek to their track of choice to take a shot at greatness. Some reach their on-track goals, while others struggle mightily. In fact, due to cumbersome struggles, some drivers might end their night empty-handed with nothing to show for their best efforts. However, the one guarantee they should get every week is a “thank you.”

While they might be discouraged from their less-than-favorable performance, I’ve seen these same drivers take solace in being appreciated, time and again. I’ll go as far as to say it never ceases to amaze me how many drivers are caught off guard by being thanked for their support.

Taking a few minutes to thank racers each night, could make a significant difference with how they view you and your facility.

Recently, one racer even told me, “I’ve raced over 40 times this year at five or six different tracks, and you’re the first promoter I’ve had who thanked me for coming. I had a terrible night tonight. Everything that could go wrong did. However, for you to take time to come by my pit area, shake my hand, and thank me for being here truly means a lot.”

I’ll be blunt. That’s totally unacceptable. In what world is it good practice for a business not to show appreciation for the folks who are putting on the show?

As promoters, racers are one of our customers. While we can’t possibly make everyone happy on every given night, we can still make a concerted effort to be appreciative of their support.

Recognizing the Fans

From the promotional angle, I’ve run the numbers on enough events to realize one simple fact. While there are some rare exceptions, if you have no fans, it doesn’t matter how many racers you have. Your chances of being profitable are few and far between. You need a solid grandstand count to make it all work.

With this in mind, it’s essential both promoters and racers show appreciation for the fans in the stands as often as possible.

Without the fans, we have no show. (Jim DenHamer photo)

Race nights are busy times for promoters, but taking time to stand at the front gate and thank people as they come into the track can make a big impression. Similarly, occasionally going through the stands during downtime in the action and thanking fans goes a long way.

The proverbial “shaking hands and kissing babies” approach doesn’t apply to just success in politics. It’s effective in the racing world as well.

Additionally, racers can achieve great results by initiating conversations with fans who walk by their pit area. Let them know you appreciate them being there and you hope they enjoyed the night’s races.

Taking part in autograph sessions and car shows also proves to make a decisive difference in a race fan’s experience. I can’t stress enough to racers how vital these types of interactions can be.

Supporting the Sponsors

Whether it be a promoter or a racer, going above and beyond to show appreciation for a sponsor is imperative. Many times, a marketing partner supports a race track or team merely out of his or her love for the sport. They aren’t looking to improve their bottom line. Rather, they are looking to help the cause and keep it alive.

As a result, a “thank you” might be the only return on investment they receive.

I say it all the time — getting a sponsor isn’t the hard part. Keeping a sponsor is the real challenge. Knowing a simple thank you could be the difference in a continued relationship and a non-returning sponsor is a sobering thought. However, it’s a reality.

Whenever possible, please make sure to recognize sponsors.

I’ve seen it play out before. Please don’t make that careless mistake.

Meanwhile, as a side note, it’s worth mentioning that fans can also play an essential role in a sponsor continuing their support. By choosing the products or services of a race loyal company and letting them know where you heard about them could be the difference in whether or not the company continues to spend money in racing.

We’re all one big team in the aspect of keeping sponsors engaged.

FanFare

Race fans, you largely control the fate of which tracks stay open. On the same token, you have a massive impact on racers. If you choose not to support certain tracks, then it’s likely they won’t stay open. If a particular facility isn’t open, then competitors obviously have one less option of where to race.

Any track you choose to support is your entertainment choice. Clearly, you’re the customer and they are the service provider. You’re spending your hard-earned money with them in exchange for a night of great racing. Obviously, apart from the admission fee,  you technically don’t owe them anything. However, an occasional thank you to a promoter could make a big difference.

Operating a race track can be a challenging endeavor.

After all, running a race track is a tough business, and it isn’t always profitable. A thank you from a fan might be the only positive a promoter nets on a particularly rough race night.

So, if you think a track has done a great job with their show, please don’t be afraid to commend the promoter. This might be done throughout the night at the track or even in an e-mail or phone call following the event.

I can promise you that positive feedback is much appreciated.

Similarly, racers, if you see a promoter who is doing everything possible to provide a quality facility and an improved racing experience, don’t be afraid to thank them. It might be the extra encouragement they need to keep pushing forward when everything else seems to be turning sour.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, the racing ecosystem is a fragile environment. We all need one another.

To survive, tracks need racers, fans, and sponsors. To feed their need for speed, racers need tracks, fans, and sponsors. To fill their need for exciting entertainment, fans need tracks and racers.

It sounds pretty complex until you realize the first step toward a comprehensive solution may very well begin with a simple “thank you.”

About the author

Ben Shelton

Ben got his start at historic Riverside International Speedway. His accomplished motorsports media career includes journalist, race announcer, and on-air personality.
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