I was talking to Fred Wright yesterday and he mentioned that he has 3 registrations in the OW run group at the 4/1 lapping event. I'm in no way scolding the OW community, but with numbers that low this is likely to be a 1-time thing.
I have to say it feels a little like scolding Bob..
I certainly don't want to speak for every member of the open wheel community, but I will speak for myself. I would hate to think that one event at the peak of April would be used to evaluate our/my dedication to racing. In fact I might even suggest it’s our dedication to the sport that leads many of us to tear our cars down to the chassis each winter. With the first race still over a month away, I know that I still have race parts on a UPS truck somewhere. I would have to imagine I’m not the only one in that boat. That being said, if my parts arrive, I plan to be there Sunday. I have also spoken to Fred to make him aware of my intentions, and promised to spread the word.
W O R D:
Believe me when I tell you that the other open-wheel guys I’ve spoken with are ALL very excited about the new track, and we are ALL very excited to drive it and support it. However, there does seem to be a reoccurring concern at this early point in the construction phase. The track doesn’t seem ready for us. After watching all the video our closed wheel brothers keep posting (some from as recent as nine days ago), it would appear that any misstep on a potentially cold, wet, unfamiliar track that results in an off course excursion could indeed cause us OW guys some notable damage, or at the very least a couple gallons of simple green. That’s a bit disconcerting with only a month of off season left. IMHO, this is one reason why the number of interested (and willing) OW guys is lower than you’d likely see in June lets say.
Personally, I’m the sick and twisted sort that loves racing in the rain. Testing in the rain is a different story. Being cold and wet all day, and looking through a foggy visor at a track I can’t fully “drop the hammer on” loses some of the allure. I might as well just bring the commuter at that point, and crank up the radio and the heat. If you were at issue with the size of the closed wheel grids, I’d likely offer. But I digress.
I can absolutely understand the intent behind your post Bob, (and scolding or no scolding aside) I guess foolishly presume there are other issues at play here, besides the lack of fire under our backsides. Although the message was received.
I'd bet decent money that, as a percentage of active OW racers, 3 registrations at an as-yet-unfinished track during the rainy season is not too far below that of however many CW race cars are registered.
I would suggest that others of the OW community do as Mr. Tipton did--communicate with Fred Wright about your status and intentions. As has been mentioned, the "buck" is a mighty driving force and if you want to continue to have opportunities, the event organizers must have hope of making their ends meet, i.e. getting the numbers out on the track.
We totally understand torn-down cars, parts shipping from Timbuktu, and trying to finish catching up on normal life stuff before the circus starts again.
I'd like to add my $0.02 here. I am incredibly excited about driving at the Ridge! Like Coley, my car currently has parts in more than one State and will not be functionally together until the week prior to the first Conference race in May. I'll be towing up to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and the current plan is to do several races, one of which will be the August race at TRMP. I may not be the most remotely located Conference racer but a 1600 mile tow in each direction should say something about my level of commitment to supporting club racing at all of the NW tracks.
Having said that, I sincerely believe that we all, whether open or closed wheel racers, do whatever we can to support racing to the fullest extent possible. We don't stay away from a track because of anything other that something in our life which has, for whatever reason, assumed a higher priority to us. Now days that's frequently economy driven. We've all become, to some extent, victims in that arena. For most of us racing is fueled by discretionary income. When times are tough those discretionary activities are toward the bottom of the priority list and that's how it should be. Take care of business first and play hard when you can afford to. Anyone who races before paying the bills each month is courting disaster and needs to reevaluate the priority scale.
BTW I really appreciate Steve's comment about the percentages. We O/W drivers are a relatively small segment of the total number of Conference drivers. However our dedication to racing is as strong as anyone out there. And we race as frequently as we possibly can. Because our cars are purpose built race cars they are often not as robust as our C/W counterparts. They aren't exactly fragile, they're just engineered closer to the breaking point and therefore require constant attention and replacement of consumable bits and pieces. I guess I'm saying this as justification for what, to some, may appear as lack of commitment. It isn't! If you really want to know, ask an O/W racer but be prepared to spend some time listening to their answer.