Promoter’s Corner is a new, bi-weekly feature on Speed51.com powered by JEGS that allows racers and fans to see a side of short track racing promoters that we don’t often see. 

 

Speed51.com has assembled a group of well-respected promoters from different short tracks and disciplines of racing throughout the country. On a bi-weekly basis, promoters will take their turn sharing their thoughts on an interesting short track racing topic or giving a behind-the-scenes look at what they do.

 

Our panel of promoters who have kindly agreed to be involved in this feature include: Alan Dietz (Pro All Stars Series), Doug Hobbs (Evergreen Speedway – WA), Gregg McKarns (Madison Int’l Speedway – WI & ARCA Midwest Tour), Jeff Hachmann (World Racing Group), Joe Skotnicki (Race of Champions), Josh Vanada (Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park - CT), Ken Minott (Wiscasset Speedway - ME), Larry Collins (Kern County Raceway Park – CA and SRL), R.J. Scott (Champion Racing Association), Tim Packman (Lancaster Speedway) and Tim Bryant (Five Flags Speedway and Southern Super Series).

 

To begin this new feature on Speed51.com, we asked five members of our panel to answer the question: What is your philosophy on the consumption and/or sale of alcohol at the race track?" 

 

Doug Hobbs – Promoter, Evergreen Speedway

 

We do sell alcohol at Evergreen Speedway. When we took over the track in 2011 the beer garden was operating under a different non-profit group each and every week. The dynamics of the non-profits is they were liable if anyone were to sue them for over-serving, or any related accidents or incidents that were alcohol related.
300x250-51-network-2017Once we established ourselves, we won the rights to serve food and beverages in 2013, which were under a separate county contract when we took over the facility. We created a very conservative and strategic alcohol plan and were awarded a full Washington State liquor license in 2013.
For the first year we only served alcohol in one or two closed beer garden areas. Since 2014, beer and wine can be consumed in the Grandstands. We do have a family section where alcohol is not allowed to be permitted.
Our license allows us to serve mixed drinks which must be consumed in the beer garden.
There is no question that beverage sales play a significant role in producing large events and big payouts at Evergreen Speedway.
We employ licensed bartenders, trained alcohol patrol personnel, and uniformed Sheriffs at the Beer Gardens and on premises at every event. Our security teams monitor all gates and keep outside alcohol from coming in, and ours from going out.
Our front gate security teams do bag checks for alcohol and firearms at all events. We have gotten nothing but 'thank you's" from families who feel safe with all the security and law enforcement on the property.
We believe that responsibly serving alcohol is part of the whole fan experience. You can even have a beer in Disneyland today!

Joe Skotnicki – Promoter, Race of Champions

 

Alcohol has its place for the fans. The common sense logic is, “who doesn’t enjoy a beer or their favorite libation of choice on a night out?” and it is seemingly everywhere, including as a major partner in the sport for some.

 

The interesting part that we all need to help with is the “consumption with responsibility” part. Should there be limits set? It becomes a liability issue in many instances. It is a situation that is challenging from the standpoint that the tracks have because it is a great source of revenue but it comes with risk. Managed properly it only holds gains.

 

That said, there is nothing wrong with having it present. I do believe in having a family section. In different regions, states and countries, it depends on the law. For instance, in Ontario, Canada, beer can only be consumed in the designated area, whereas in the United States, in most places it is more open. If a facility offers a family section, even if it’s not utilized a great deal, it’s an option for people who don’t believe or do not consume adult beverages and it’s a selling point as a family-oriented facility. Believe it or not, there are still some places that face the challenge of being in an area where they can’t sell beer, but people may bring it in in their own coolers.

 

In the end, it’s challenging with a risk, but it’s been a part of the sport forever. It is up to the “Stewards of the Sport” to manage it, make sure it’s consumed responsibly in the right situations and it doesn’t create additional challenges.

 

Josh Vanada – General Manager, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

 

At Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, we do continue the tradition of the founding moonshiners of NASCAR, by permitting the sale of alcohol at our stock car events. We believe that it is both a service to our guests, and an additional profit center for our concessionaire. Unlike some of the moonshiners, however, our approach is very conservative, in keeping with industry best practices and abiding by all local, statutory and federal regulations.

 

Alcohol may be purchased in the grandstands only, with a limit to how many drinks may be served at once. The individual who is responsible for our food and beverage service is very sensitivity to this issue, as he owns his own liquor store.  All of his staff have been trained and licensed in the serving of alcohol.

 

We do not permit the sale of alcohol in the pit area. In addition, we do not allow any of our guests to bring their own alcohol into the venue. One of our security personnel acts as the bag and cooler checker at our front gate.  Lastly, two years ago, we introduced a family section which prohibits the consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking and vulgarity. This area is policed by our roaming security manager.  We believe that the sale and consumption of alcohol is part of attending a sporting event, but strict policies and procedures must be in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all of our guests.

 

Ken Minott - Promoter/Announcer, Wiscasset Speedway 

We know there are benefits and drawbacks regardless of how a track chooses to approach it. Our track has made the choice to not sell or allow alcohol and for us, it has been a successful policy. We feel this helps foster the "family friendly" atmosphere we want to offer at Wiscasset Speedway.
While alcohol sales could certainly generate more income for the track, it comes with its own set of circumstances (added security & staffing, safety concerns, fan conduct). While most people who enjoy an adult beverage at a track manage to conduct themselves responsibly, there are always some who can't. That's something we simply don't want at our track. The revenue we may lose by not selling alcohol is more than made up by families coming to our track who feel comfortable bringing their children to the races without exposing them to this.
We do allow coolers at Wiscasset, but we normally check them at the gate. We're not naieve enough to deny that some may slip out to their car for a sip between races, but we've rarely had problems with overly intoxicated fans.

 

R.J. Scott – Managing Partner, Champion Racing Association (CRA)

Alcohol sales are a key component to financial success for many racetracks...especially their major events.  Margins are typically very high, so it becomes a staple of what is needed for a track to keep the doors open from week to week.
In addition, many tracks use their their relationships with alcohol distributors to create additional revenue for the track through sponsorship sales.  Sometimes the beer distributors have more access to co-op advertising dollars than other potential sponsors.  Beer distributors have also typically been some of the best activators of sponsorship programs, which helps extend the value of partnership.

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Promoter’s Corner: What is Your Philosophy on Alcohol at the Track?