Motor Mile Speedway announced earlier today that it has shuttered plans for the 2020 season. Immediately that spread through social media like wildfire with many wondering what tracks would be next and causing panic among racers and fans alike.
However, I think there’s a broader picture here that should make this announcement less alarming and more along the lines of expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing Motor Mile Speedway or Michelle Vaught under the bus here. I’m merely trying to help you slow your roll of thinking that this is the first track of many to call it quits on the 2020 season.
Let me start by saying that it’s incredibly sad that Motor Mile Speedway had to cancel their season. I know Michelle and her whole staff wanted to get the 2020 season in and just like the rest of us never expected this Coronavirus to take over the world and shut businesses down.
With that said I think we can point to a handful of factors for Motor Mile shutting down this season. First and foremost, they operate on a shorter schedule than almost every other track in the Southeast region. They only had 10 races on their schedule starting in late April and extending into the first of September while most tracks in this region start in March and complete their season a month later in October with some racing into November.
The short schedule is just the tip of the iceberg at Motor Mile Speedway though. Let’s not forget that for the 2018 season they shuttered their racing program and only had special events such as the Monster Trucks and a Night of Destruction event. They did have a successful (on the surface) 2019 campaign but they still had one lingering problem.
That problem in 2019 was that according to figured given by track owner David Hagan during the off-season meeting at the end of the season, the track lost somewhere around $13,000 per race event. That by anyone’s measurement is a staggering number and sadly that number was down from over $20,000 per event in 2017.
It’s hard for me at my financial level to even grasp such a huge on-going loss and how they would even be willing to do that. I think that aspect played more into this decision than anything in my opinion. If they lost that much last year on a good year, can you imagine the losses they would take on a year when sponsorship will be harder to obtain, racers will have a harder time getting to the track or overcoming a big crash and many fans are out of work?
With that said, there are not many race tracks in this position. Many race tracks do lose money or break even during a season but not many have or even attempt to sustain the kinds of losses that they openly admit they have at Motor Mile.
So let’s not take this as an alarm that many race tracks will shutter their season just yet. I don’t anticipate a lot of race tracks making major moves like this, at least not before we get to July, August or September without any racing and the country still shut down. As of now, that’s not expected either as the peak of the coronavirus in the United States is expected to crest on April 16th.
That would leave three or four weeks beyond that before I feel we’ll be able to get back to racing and that would leave a lot of season to be had by many tracks still. Tracks could still get a full season in, even if they start sometime in late May or June even. This could create a lot more issues such as tracks running on top of one another and such but at this point, we’ll take that just to have some racing going on as we’re all struggling sitting at home watching simulated racing.
I hope this helped to give you guys some perspective into what the Motor Mile decision really means and why it’s not time to consider racing season over with just yet. The Coronavirus has impacted our lives in ways we never expected to have it impacted but that doesn’t mean that just because we’re all pent up at home and miserable, doesn’t mean we have to take a pessimistic outlook for the season.
This isn’t the end of the world and we will race again hopefully sooner, rather than later.
Cover photo by Kimberly Austin.