Philip Morris (left) interviewed by CARS Tour announcer Tony Stevens (right) for CARSTour.TV coverage of the 2017 season finale at South Boston Speedway. (Corey Latham/ photo)

One of the more innovative aspects of the CARS Response Energy Tour has been the tour’s use of digital media, with an emphasis on video, as means of promoting the series.

CARS Tour’s digital media approach includes live and on-demand broadcasts online, video features throughout the week and on race day and distribution through Roku.  The digital distribution is impressive, especially considering the CARS Tour is a regional racing series.

“Since the tour’s inception, we’ve worked alongside Tony Stevens and his Pit Row Media company to produce and offer a live broadcast of all CARS Response Energy Tour races.  Once again, in 2018, we’ll do the same, allowing fans to not miss a minute of the action.  The broadcast is the same broadcast MAVTV used of the South Boston race last year, so that tells you the quality they produce.  For $19.95/month subscription, you can’t beat it.”

The subscription video service follows in the footsteps of current media trends.  CARSTour.TV works much like services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, The CW, CBS All Access and Hulu.

“One of the biggest things Chris and I agreed on is that digital media is going to have the same reach or a more focused reach than traditional cable and satellite television,” CARS Tour announcer and video producer Tony Stevens told  “Collectively, having all those snippets out there help all our businesses.  Whether it’s Pit Row TV or CARS Tour, it helps us all expose our products without making people pay for it.  The relative cost to do those snippets is nothing compared to the broadcasts.  It’s the rising tides lift all ships approach.”

For Ragle and Stevens, it’s all about engagement and not just viewership.  Engagement has become a key factor when it comes to sports and television in general with social media changing the game.  For the NBA, engagement is a large part of their surge in popularity in recent years.

“The key I look at is engagement,” Stevens explained.  “That’s the new metric every property is going to have to focus on.  By having a broadcast, you can engage your fanbase, whether they’re watching at home or they’re at the track.  If they’re interested in watching the broadcast, they’re interested in coming to the track.  Whether they’re a car owner, fan or sponsor, they’re engaged in what you have going on.  The more engaged they are, the better it is for your brand, whether it’s CARS Tour, the tracks, the sponsors, Pit Row TV.  It keeps it in the front of their mind.”

CARS Tour has embraced digital media at a time when many promoters in short track racing fear social media and video streaming.

“I think for most tracks, it’s natural to fear what you don’t know,” Stevens commented.  “You feel you’re giving your product away, but if media and broadcast coverage did not help professional sports, the NFL would not have a television agreement, MRN would not have been distributed from the 1970s on forward.  There’s a bigger draw having that media there long term.  If that was not an advantage, nobody would do it.  They make billions for a reason, they’re smart people.”

CARS Tour’s media coverage extends past their own digital media outlets and through media sources as well.  Their embrace of media coverage helps push them to the forefront every race which is in stark contrast to many tracks and other series who don’t see an advantage to media coverage from multiple, or any, outlets.

“We’ll continue to have premiere short track media coverage from, and Short Track Scene just to name a few,” Ragle stated.  “ has provided Trackside Now coverage since day one and now, with the addition of and their RaceDay Live coverage, we’ll have both Super Late Models and Late Model Stock Car races that are split, we’ll have them covered for you.  The third element I think that will have a huge upgrade in our digital reach will be adding Jacklyn Drake, who we are calling “the face of the CARS Response Energy Tour.”  She will be adding a lot of video content, interviews and coverage from the series internally and will be a major asset for us this season.”

Stevens also said the CARS Tour is always exploring options when it comes to broadcasting the races on traditional television platforms as well.  Last year, their season finale race at South Boston Speedway was broadcast in an hour-long timeslot on MAVTV via Speed Sport.

“We’re always looking to do that type of stuff,” Stevens said.  “Essentially, digital media gets a more impressive reach than your average cable television but the racers, because they’re an older demographic, that’s where they think they have to be.  So, we’re working on that.  The reality is the digital footprint is bigger than the cable footprint.  It’s more of an added benefit if we can do that and it adds value to what our teams and sponsors have invested, then we’re going to do it.  It puts us in front of more eyeballs and it doesn’t hurt to have it on cable, whether it’s MAVTV or a local channel.  The more people you can engage like that, the better off it is for everybody.”

The CARS Response Energy Tour kicks off its fourth season this Saturday at Tri-County Motor Speedway and the race will once again be broadcast live on the subscription-based online, on smartphones and on Roku.