ORANGE SHOW SPEEDWAY, ASA MAKING WAVES IN CALIFORNIA WITH 600 PERCENT INCREASE IN ATTENDANCE; RE-UPS ASA MEMBER TRACK PROGRAM FOR '07 DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (December 1, 2006) - American Speed Association -- With all the issues facing the track ...
ORANGE SHOW SPEEDWAY, ASA MAKING WAVES IN CALIFORNIA WITH 600 PERCENT INCREASE IN ATTENDANCE; RE-UPS ASA MEMBER TRACK PROGRAM FOR '07
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (December 1, 2006) - American Speed Association -- With all the issues facing the track community, it is becoming increasingly rare to hear about a track that has experienced growth, and even more rare for one to have had a 600 percent increase in attendance since July. Yet that is exactly the position that ASA Member Track Orange Show Speedway (OSS) has found themselves in.
The 0.25-mile racetrack has experienced a near-miraculous turnaround over the last four months under the guidance of Joe Ganino, OSS Director of Motorsports, who has unexpectedly thrust into the position in July.
"I was not even a fan. I had 5 minutes to make a decision," Ganino said about taking over the promotion of the San Bernardino, CA facility. "I had never promoted a race in my life, and was not exposed to the business side. I am learning every day, but am still very green and have appreciated all the support from National Orange Show Fairgrounds Board of Directors, drivers and fans."
As well as the track is doing now, it is hard to believe that as of mid-summer, OSS was facing a pretty bleak future. "Honestly, the driver's attitudes were a bit down. The crowd count was way off, and the purses were down so naturally they were a pretty unenthusiastic group," Ganino explained.
A former police officer and now owner of a successful security company, Ganino said to himself, "I can't let this thing die." Always known for being straight-to-the-point person, he had another issue to tackle. He had to address the heart and soul of any racetrack -- the drivers and their families.
"Our drivers became our biggest sales force. Treat them with dignity and respect and they have been talking with people about all the positive things going on at OSS and all of a sudden we have 300 sales people out in the streets," Ganino exclaimed. "It really hasn't been me; the drivers have been the real ones to help the turnaround."
"I only made them two promises," Ganino recalled. "The first was that we would put people back into the seats. The second was that they would be paid the purse at the end of the night as they were leaving the track." Cutting purse checks on time would prove to be the easy part. Getting fans back into the stands would be more of a challenge. Ganino used the old tried and true method -- reach out to the community and treating people with dignity.
Armed with 50,000 tickets, each good for one free admission, OSS staff targeted sponsors, community leaders and local organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts as well as local Little Leagues.
OSS has provided stock car racing since the early 60's and has seen household names like Ivan Baldwin, Parnelli Jones, AJ Foyt, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett and to this day OSS takes pride in having 4th generations of racers competing here at the historic short track. "What we did was invite people to come out and have some good, affordable, wholesome family fun and give them a great environment to enjoy on a Saturday night." Ganino could not have imagined the response as many families were re-introduced to a track they hadn't attended since they were kids.
Once inside the racetrack the fans noticed many changes, starting with 4000 new baseball-style, stadium seating which replaced the old wooden bleachers. More food vendors were available and offered a wider selection as well as other kiosks and vendors selling merchandise and creating a small marketplace atmosphere. All this helped to create a new buzz in the area, including the racing community, to whom many had thought had been closed down, though the track had been in continually hold racing for over 40 years and in operation for over 60 years.
Practicing what he preaches, Ganino and his staff made sure that all the patrons were treated like family, with each spectator being greeted as they arrive and thanked as they left each night. "There's no real magic, we are just offering a clean facility, shaking hands and thanking people. Once they come in, we found that many of them become repeat customers and often come back week after week," Ganino explained. It was this turnaround that accounted for a spectator increase of more than 2100 people every week and a 25% increase in the car count .
Further practicing his edict of respect, the OSS Staff understands the time, effort, and including the distances some of the drivers travel to race and will call drivers with any updates on weather or traffic conditions. It is these little unexpected personal touches that have helped to endear OSS to the racing community once again.
"What Joe and his staff have done at Orange Show Speedway is nothing short of phenomenal," said Dennis Huth, president of the ASA Member Track program. "That track was literally on life support and here comes a guy with a completely different background other than motorsports. Joe went back to the basics of treating people right and is proof of what kindness and respect can do to the bottom line. There are many track operators around the country, large and small, that can learn a lesson from the simple changes Joe has made at OSS. The results may be just as staggering at their track too."
New to any kind of racetrack promotion, Ganino leaned heavily on Huth and the ASA Member Track program. In fact, he recently re-signed as a Level I member for the 2007 season. Tracks and regional touring series that join as Level I members in the ASA Member Track program are eligible for contributions to their year-end point fund, marketing assistance and enhanced participant accident insurance to the competitors.
"ASA has been the biggest big brother for me," Ganino explained. "Dennis (Huth) is someone I could call on a daily basis, to which I pretty much did for awhile. He has walked me through everything - insurance, tires, rain, points, forms and you could just about include everything else along the way as we talked about it. Dennis has been there all the way."
As for 2007, OSS has doubled their racing schedule. In addition to the 30 regular events, they adding a slate of 21 drifting events which are rapidly gaining popularity on the west coast. Additionally, they are in the process of having the entire infield paved including the excitement about the return of extreme nights at OSS with Outlaw Figure 8's, which will be the first-ever nationally sanctioned figure 8 division with the support of Dennis Huth and the ASA Member Track program. With additional demolition derbies, great divisions and exciting touring division stops like that of the ASA Speed Truck Challenge.
When the drivers, family and friends alike couldn't wait for the 2007 season to begin, once again Joe showed he was listening. During December and January when almost every track is dark, Joe has provided a means for racing's newest members to their community to get some much needed practice with a Sunday afternoon Winter Series of 4 races (2 in December and 2 in January). "I wanted to give drivers moving onto different divisions and young drivers as less stressful opportunity to get some practice in under race conditions as well as veteran drivers getting the opportunity to share their experience and knowledge with our next generation of drivers" Ganino explained when asked about scheduling the winter race schedule.
"I don't know how the other sanctioning bodies treat people, but I doubt that it could be even half as well as ASA has treated me. I know this is a tough sport and many tracks are having difficulties and even shutting down, but we are doing really well and ASA has played a big role in that."
Orange Show Speedway is located near the I-10 and I-215 interchange at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. For more information, visit www.nosevents.com or call (909) 888-6788, extension 438.