Review of RPM Speedway

On July 5, 2010, in Uncategorized, by admin

This post is more localized to Dallas area than usual, so once again, you spamming Russians are welcome to view and learn about Texas! We like vodka too!

With the fourth of July upon us  (again, you .ru guys, this is Americas celebration of independence…always helping everyone to learn something), and nothing more to do, I had the rare opportunity to take in my first dirt car race of the season. Normally not running on this holiday, one local track decided to go for it, and it afforded my first opportunity to see Dallas area’s newest dirt track.

Background. Located in Crandall, Texas, about 30 miles south of Dallas, RPM Speedway was started last year by a partnership that includes a local modified driver, Ronnie Sigman. Sigman raced mostly at the other crandall dirt track (yes thats right, this town of 2500 residents has (had?) two, count em, two dirt tracks), at least I think it is still there, Thunderbird Speedway.  Not sure if this one survived…cannot find reference to it on the internet, and it used to have a website. The Dallas area dirt car market has been quite bizarre. As of 5 years ago, there were 5 dirt tracks operating within 50 miles of each other on Saturday nights. A new high school in Royse City Texas claimed one of them, and Greenville, switched to Friday nights, and now back to Saturdays. The king of the dirt tracks locally, Devils Bowl Speedway, the birth place of the World of Outlaws, has been in steady decline these past five years.  The economy hit race teams hard as well, and this assisted to the decline of Devils Bowl, although I am told a multitude of rules by the owner has aided in the decline as well.  In the middle of the worse recession ever, enter RPM Speedway in Crandall, literally across the 2500 town from Thunderbird Speedway.  RPM normally runs Fridays, and Thunderbird Saturdays. In case you think the market dynamics are strange on this one, consider Cowtown Speedway in Kennedale Texas.  It is literally across the parking lot from Kennedale Park Speedway, indiependent tracks both running on Saturday nights.  You can literally see Kennedale Park cars running from the top of Cowtown stands….

Facilities. Everything is brand new here. The buildings are modest and built with budget in mind, but from ground up.  It sits on 30 acres or so. It is a tight 1/4 low banked dirt oval with outer wall surrounding. The pits can accommodate a high car count, as witnessed on this Sunday night.  160 cars were present through 6 classes. They could have squeezed more in as well. The stands look like they could hold up to 3000, not including the pit stands for teams. The stands are all brand new.  The entrance to the track for cars crosses right in front of the stands, providing nice up close view, and a safety buffer between the stands and the track.  Even with the pit row in front of the track, you still feel close to the action. The sprint car pic below shows the car coming on the track, as well as a sprinter on the track. Concessions are an issue.  The good as that everything is made to order…(unlike Devils Bowl, were much is pre-made) The bad news, one line in, and out, and with everything made to order, the queue gets very long. One major guffaw in the facilities.  They should have consulted my firm Penland Corner Consultants for design advice.  Folks, you do not, absolutely do not, put stands facing the south in Texas at a place where dust will be generated.  It flows directly at the stands…..ouch, this was so basic, not sure how they missed it.  Parking was ample, (though filling up close).  There is one in and out for audience, separate for race teams, although you can exit the race teams entry at the end the night, but traffic could be an issue.

Classes. These guys started out last year running modifieds, limited modifieds, street stocks, and bombers. This year they added Sprints to the regular shows, getting a car count around 12. Editors note:  This class is nearly dead in the local area as it simply costs too much to run, and anyone who has invested tend to do traveling shows where money is much bigger. But these Sprints are a upcoming class called 305….this matches the engine C.I. Supposedly much less costs than the 360’s normally run. On this tight 1/4 mile, you could not tell they were any slower, but they would be on the Devils Bowl 1/2 mile.

The Show. There were 160 cars in the pits. There was what looked to be one wrecker…I thought I was in for a long one, and I was, but not for the reason thought. Ended up to be two records, tow push cars, and one gigantic fork lift (they fork the sprinters that have flipped and are not able to be towed conventionally). It started late, at 6:30 vs. 6:00. The show moved along well.  The flag man and announcer are from Devils B0wl ( at least last year).  I think there is friendly cooperation between to the two as they do not compete directly. RPM partner Sigman races as a regular at D.B. on Saturday nights. But what the promoters could use to learn from D.B. is track surface management. Granted, the conditions for this night could not have been worse for dirt surfaces (I am no expert, but know a little….) a) 160 cars, I do not think they expected that good of turn out; b)a trash load of rain the preceding days making things a total mud pit; and c) windy hot afternoon, which dries the surface quickly but leaves the underneath clay soft…Devils Bowl (specifically promoter Lanny Edwards) are masters of track preparation, knowing what is needed for every condition.  This was the down fall of the RPM show. They track degraded quickly into a rutted bowl. They had to spend an hour after the intermission fire works to grade the ruts of the track…and it just deteriorated again making racing very difficult for the teams and tearing up equipment. Bottom line, the show ended at 1:16 a.m.

Now these guys have some cool ideas and given a little more experience, should improve.  At Devils Bowl, when there is a restart, they manually set the cars on a chalk board. Here, they request drivers to purchase a radio that is direct to the driver.  All line ups for restarts are done this way. Very cool.  Tonight went slower, since there were many non-regular teams who did not have the radios. The other thing they do well, is somehow convince the drivers that when the spin out, keep going instead of forcing a restart.  The heats, they did this nearly 100%. They features, where the money is paid, not so much.  But they are much better than the Bowl…where this has been a problem for years.  This is the singular most time consumer in a show. And there is no good answer.  These guys have a great start. Racing is tight, and especially the modifieds bump each other aggressively. Not sure how more race stopping accidents did not happen, especially on a rutted track, but hats off to the drivers.  There was one nasty sprint car tumble, driver OK…just a lot of work to do on the car the following day.

Overall. I will return. I am hoping some of the observances I saw here were due to overwhelming response to this event. Even on ASCS events at Devils Bowl where 40 traveling sprint teams come, they do not usually go over 100 cars.  I guess, including the pit area (they pay to enter as well) that there were at least 3500 people.  They charge more than the Bowl…$12 for adults and $5 for kids. Big revenue night for them. I estimate their total revenues were in the $40,000 range, including concessions. They have some programmatic challenges.  I will assume the track conditions tonight was unusual due to the circumstances. ( I will have to go to my local BofA branch where one of the modified drivers works and find out if this is an issue….good going Derek, you cam from way in the back to finish 6th, in that mess?  I think that was good performance)

Concessions. Speaking of concessions, I had to try them out. Very, very expensive. Their cheeseburger is truly a 1/2 pound, but $5.25…made to order. That with a diet DP set me back $7. A little high for my tastes.  Please note, you can not buy beer here. Crandall is another of our wonderful areas where the conservatives think they need to tell you how to live, and apparently, RPM has not got their “club” license. The great news is, unlike the Bowl, you can bring your own cooler in with anything but glass bottles. Hats off RPM.  There are separate sections for alcohol and non-alcohol.  You also can go out into parking lot at any time. So next time, I will bring my grill, cooler, and when they have to grate the track again, I will be out there having the time of my life.

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