Is the ‘Original Winter Series’ alive or not?
Is there a way to bring back the Winter Series so it isn't a "country club" of sorts for the well funded bracket race teams? I think so, but it will take a brave track owner to give it a try.
Here is my opinion of what might work to regain the Winter Series momentum and make it a draw to new racers. Do not take this as an attack on the bigger teams, I look at it as a way to bring back the 300+ field of cars and a unique format not seen at bracket races anymore.
1. Lower the entry fees to $100 a day and if you buy a 5-Day entry card, make it $450.
2. One Driver/One car. Drivers cannot drive two cars and the same car cannot go down the track twice in the same round.
3. No buybacks. Go to these races and you know exactly what you will spend in entry fees.
4. Lower the winner's money so it is not so top heavy, so it gets split up by the last four racers anyway. Let's say $5,000 to win.
5. Ladder the cars at 32 (last 5 rounds). Earn a spot on the ladder and you have accomplished something to be proud of. Losers of the first laddered round gets free entry to a race day the next year ($100 value). From there pay $150 a round, $2,000 R/U and $5,000 to win.
The only thing one of the promoters should consider is to invite "No Box" racers to these races as well. They could run a No Box/Box final or mix the No Box guys in at the ladder of 32.
That opens the Winter Series to more racers and families. We used to make the Winter Series a family vacation as much as possible. The races used to have a time run about 2 or 3 p.m. so there was time to take kids to the beach, play some golf, and enjoy the "end of the season". I also feel the schedule should return to Orlando (close to Disney World and all sorts of entertainment venues), then PBIR and the beaches, and then finish over Thanksgiving at Bradenton so kids and families are using some "normal vacation days".
I am pretty sure the promoters of the current Winter Series events would like to see more entries because the tracks will sell more concessions, the host cities will benefit from more visiting racers, and the Winter Series might return to being the "best 15 races in 20 days on the planet."
Will a change like this work? I do not have those answers, but what is going on right now is getting so expensive in entry fees at $200 a day and add in buybacks of $75 to $150 a race it is easy to see teams spend $3,500 to $5,000 on entry fees and buybacks. That leaves us with maybe 120 teams with that kind of funding and they are all at these races but very few local races show up at any of the current 5-Day events.
Time for a change in my opinion -- these events need to have an influx of new racers. Raising the entry fees and raising the winner money has failed miserably.
Maybe making the Winter Series "more affordable to lose" is a better approach. Time and courage by track owners/promoters will tell.