December '18

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18 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 into the sport or moving up in classes, even as some teams are choosing to stop," he observes. "Regardless of the racer's level, treating your customers fairly and ethically is the key to keeping circle track racing a strong market." Marshall Fegers, circle track product manager for QA1 Precision Products, also believes the market is trending in a posi- tive direction. "I think everyone knows it took a hit with the recession a few years ago," he explains. "It's slowly been recovering, and I think we're still in a state of recovery, but optimism seems up and car counts/ fan attendance for the most part seems to be recovering still. Some tracks are having a tough time on the weekly level, but the national tours seem to be having full grand- stands and car counts." Trey McFarland, marketing manager for MAHLE Motorsport, agrees that different series are in different places. "It depends on which level you focus on," he notes. "The upper-level series will always struggle balancing sponsor- ship dollars with costs. The regional professional and Sportsman-level series are doing very well. The sanctioning bodies are starting to figure out true formulas for reducing costs and keeping cars on the track, and it appears to be working." OUTSIDE FACTORS Like every other market in our perfor- mance world, circle track racing is subject to the effects of outside factors—positive and negative. "The overall economy and afford- ability of the category of racing you are competing under both can have a posi- tive and/or negative effect," Kontje says. "While the economy has improved, racers are being cautious with their dollars. At the same time, parts manufacturers are seeing increased costs. We've had no price increases in the past six years, yet we've had several price increases in raw materials. Racers are more apt to buy a higher-quality part if there's a small advantage in doing so. Racers are simply being smarter con- sumers today." Begle says the proliferation of crate engines is having a big effect on engine shops. "Working with crate engines has reduced the cost of racing while keeping the engine performance the same within the class. Unfortunately, the crate engine takes busi- ness away from independent engine shops," he explains. "I also feel the increased dif- ficulty of getting big sponsorships has negatively affected the money budgeted for engine programs. It takes much more effort to get several smaller sponsorships to keep the car on the track." Discussing modern trends, McFarland says "the internet has played a double-edged roll. It has opened up a much more afford- able and accessible way to connect and communicate with potential customers. It has made it much easier for the racer to learn and obtain knowledge, making them more comfortable with spending. But, it has also created a sea of unqualified Net Builders that have never built, tuned or raced anything." Regardless of the racer's level, treating your customers fairly and ethically is the key to keeping circle track racing a strong market. (Photo courtesy MAHLE Motorsport) Engine shops have become more specialized in specific racing classes. (Photo courtesy MAHLE Aftermarket) Racers are being smarter consumers these days. (Photos courtesy Strange Oval) Parts manufacturers are playing a greater role in educating racers about their products and then turning racers over to distribution outlets selling their products for the purchases. (Photo courtesy Strange Oval) (Photo courtesy MAHLE Aftermarket) Another Round

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