Commentary by: Andy Marquis ~ [email protected]
Copper Hill, VA(January 1, 2013) – Well, it’s official. Old Dominion Speedway has closed down and there will be no racing in 2013. They are working on going through the planning process to build a new track in Thornburg, VA, but until then there is a void to fill for fans and racers of Old Dominion Speedway. Shenandoah Speedway, you’re on deck.
Shenandoah Speedway’s a relatively new track that’s never really had the chance to stand out. The track is not NASCAR sanctioned and they struggle with car counts, in part, because of it. Now, with Old Dominion closed, drivers in the region may look to Shenandoah Speedway for racing. However, Shenandoah Speedway must make moves to attract drivers and fans.
Shenandoah Speedway can’t just expect drivers to come. Going NASCAR sanctioning will help, if they actually do so, but it’s not the only solution to drawing fans and car counts. Shenandoah needs to do a much better job getting word out about their races and their track. Not everyone is automatically going to go there. Some Old Dominion drivers may go to South Boston or Langley. Some Old Dominion support class drivers may go to Potomac Speedway or Winchester Speedway.
One very simple step Shenandoah Speedway can take towards attracting fans and racers is establishing a better online presence. When I looked at the track’s website, I figured that they just posted press releases to their Facebook page and only updated the site with results or something. So, I got on Facebook and searched for their page to “like” it and, to my amazement, they don’t have one. No Facebook page, no Twitter handle, nothing. All they have a basic website in the 21st century, where many Americans get most of their news and information on social media.
Needless to say, I’m dumbfounded by this. I’ve never heard of any sports/entertainment complex that didn’t have a Facebook page or Twitter account promoting events. This doesn’t cost a cent for track promoters. Hell, just ask a college student to write press releases once a week and post on Facebook and Twitter in exchange for free admission to the track. That’s how a lot of people get their start.
In order for fans and racers to travel to Shenandoah Speedway, they have to know the track exists. Close to the Shenandoah Caverns and Lurray Caverns, it’s in a rock solid tourist destination for locals and for families. And there’s nothing better to do on a Saturday night than go to a race. There is huge potential here, if the promoter at Shenandoah Speedway puts effort in to promoting the track.
Shenandoah Speedway is already seeing some benefits to the closure of Old Dominion Speedway. The Virginia Sprint Series, which frequented the Manassas short track, will make six stops at the track located in the Shenandoah Valley. Previously, the Virginia Sprint Series has only raced twice at Shenandoah. This tells me they are making moves to attract Old Dominion’s drivers and their extremely loyal fan base.
The 2013 schedule includes 12 dates for late models, and I’m desperately hoping some of these dates are split up in to twin races, as well as the inclusion of most of the divisions that previously competed at Old Dominion. With that, I’m hoping we’ll see maybe a few more dates and the announcement of one or two big races. Maybe they can convince the Youth for Tomorrow foundation to run their annual 150 lap race at Shenandoah.
No doubt, everyone’s going to be watching the political process play out with Dominion Raceway. That track’s still a year away from opening, and Shenandoah should be the prime destination for racers and fans in the DC region in 2013. Furthermore, if the opponents of the Dominion Raceway project win, and that possibility must be entertained no matter how unlikely it is, Shenandoah will be the only track for some to visit.
I’d be surprised if this track isn’t NASCAR sanctioned this year. I’m sure it will be, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing what I hope will be a solid car count. However, NASCAR sanctioning alone isn’t the only thing that will attract fans and drivers. Everyone’s watching Shenandoah now. They have a year in the spotlight to show off a beautiful facility that puts on a good race without having to be in Old Dominion Speedway’s shadow. It’s a golden opportunity.
Shenandoah Speedway, you’re at bat with the bases loaded. Don’t strike out!