Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Great Dirt Survey Results Part 1- Where Are You From And What Do You Like?

The results are in. Our first annual "Great Dirt Survey" has been completed.  We'd like to thank everyone who participated back in October, and we will now release the results in three parts for brevity's sake. We thought you'd appreciate not having to spend hours at a time glancing and comparing results. Also, it gives us an opportunity to give a little insight into what the results mean, one survey question at a time.  But before we unveil the first set of responses, a little background is in order...

Why did we do it?

Okay, it's a fair question. First of all absolutely nobody asked us to! And that cannot be understated here.  This was something that we created with absolutely no pressure from any sanctioning body, series, track, or parts manufacturer. They had no idea we were undertaking it.  It's important to know that, because what you are reading is real, raw and unadulterated, with no influence whatsoever.

To be frank, we hadn't ever seen a general type survey of the industry before. And since we strive to serve different dirt racing fans from all over the country, no matter what type of car they like most or whatever area they enjoy racing in, we thought that perhaps we might be able to reach the one of the largest cross sections of fans that like a little bit of everything that races on dirt.  We wanted to know things. We were curious.  To understand the dirt fan and their behavior. To see how many were from where and what was important to them.  We did it to see if we could unearth any information that could be used by others in the industry to help guide their decisions going forward. It's our job at TDN, to be servants of the sport, and this is just another way that we choose to do so.

About the Survey

This was our first attempt, and we were delighted with the participation. Thank you to all of you who spread the word on social media about what we were doing.  The first time doing anything with this kind of size and scope is a learning experience, and it taught us a few things. Things that we can use going forward to help make "The Great Dirt Survey" even more targeted next year. So the information you'll be looking at this year will seem somewhat general. But it's interesting stuff to say the least.

What it will mean going forward ?

It means that potentially, we could serve promoters or tracks in a new way by sending their specific fans a targeted survey. To find out things that they'd tell you anonymously, without the negative social media feedback which to be fair, isn't really constructive criticism, it's mostly noise and not measurable.  Promoters could develop a new concession menu, find out what specials their fan base is most interested in seeing, while seeing how close they're coming to the mark with customer service. They could also send a targeted one that we help develop to drivers to find out how they perceive your operation, but will not say in person.  It could potentially help national series to find markets to take their show into places they've never been, with more of a grip on what kind of crowd to expect.  To be honest, the possibilities are ENDLESS.

So with that all said, we'll now unveil the first part of our survey. So, where are you all from, and what do you like to watch most?  Here we go!

Total Number of Responses= 351

Q1: What State are you from?

We had responses from 39 states and three different provinces in Canada. We won't list total count state by state here as it kind of coincides with our next question which gives more detail. However, nearly half of all entries were received from Pennsylvania and Ohio with New York and Canada strongly in the mix. Responses that stood out outside of those areas were from North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Iowa which received double digit or near double digit entries.  As far as the scope goes, we had entries from Utah, Washington State, Colorado, Connecticut, California, Texas, Manitoba and Florida. So quite literally, all four corners and the midwest of the United States are represented here.

What it means: 

Basically, that this survey information will reflect population, and places that have the most dirt racing available.

Q2: What Geography Do You Watch The Most Racing In?

Some folks like to travel, most will tend to stay in their geography. We'll talk about travel to special events a little later. But here is a better way to explain the survey mix by geography.

1. Mid Atlantic - 105 Respondents (30 %)
2. Ohio Valley -  73 Respondents (21%)
3. Southeast - 50 Respondents (14%)
4. Northeast- 37 Respondents (11%)
5. Upper Midwest- 22 Respondents (6 %)
6. Central Midwest- 21 Respondents (5.9%)
7. Canada- 18 Respondents (5.1%)
8. California and West Coast- 7 Respondents (2%)
9. Southwestern US-5 Respondents (1%)
10. Pacific Northwest or Did Not Respond- 11 - (.03%)

What it Means: 

Basically, the same answer as question 1. What we have here is a representation with fairly good reach that is reflected by population in terms of numbers. The midwest make a smaller overall percentage than we know could be represented here.  It's a work in progress and points out that in 2017, greater emphasis needs to be placed on extracting a larger sample size. We will make this a point of our approach next year using more social media outlets from the midwest to encourage a greater sample. This was a learning moment. At the same time, the data should still reflect a fairly accurate account of it's intent.

Pat Miller Photo

Q3: What Divisions Interest You The Most? (Pick 3)

We asked fans to pick three types of cars that interest them the most from the following list:

  • 410 Sprints
  • Super Late Models
  • IMCA/UMP/E Modifieds
  • North East Modifieds (Big Block Style)
  • 360 Sprints
  • Crate Late Models
  • Wingless Sprints
  • Wingless Midgets
  • Stocks (Pure and Open)
  • Mini Stocks/4 Cylinders
  • North East Sportsman (Big Block Appearance)
Pat Miller Photo

Here were the responses we gathered:

1. Super Late Models- 256 Respondents (73%)
2. 410 Sprints- 232 Respondents (66%)
3. IMCA/UMP/Emod- 120 Respondents (34%)
4. Wingless Sprints- 114 Respondents (32%)
5. Crate Late Models- 92 Respondents (26%)
6. 360 Sprints (ASCS and Central PA)- 80 Respondents (23%)
7. North East Modifieds (Big Block Style)- 78 Respondents (22%)
8. Wingless Midgets- 55 Respondents (16%)
9. Stocks (Pure and Open)- 45 Respondents (13%)
10. North East Sportsman- 15 Respondents (4%)
11. Mini Stocks- 11 Respondents (3%)

What it Means?

Okay, here's our best guess. Fans were asked to pick three, so obviously many fans picked both Super Late Model and 410 Sprints. Having said that, Super Late Models are more common than Sprints in many areas of the country. So the fact that there were a few more check marks for them shouldn't come as such a surprise.  Neither should the fact that IMCA/UMP/Emods had more check marks than North East Modifieds as they're much more accessible to greater parts of the population. Perhaps what was the most surprising, was the performance of Wingless Sprints, given the fact that nearly half of the survey came from about four states, and only one of them features the division on a regular basis, the annual USAC tour appearance not withstanding. The performance of the North East Modfieds was somewhat unexpected given the demographics which featured a sizable number from New York and Eastern Canada. Though it's fairly obvious that if our demographics indicated a higher NY number, they'd be in the hunt with Super Lates and 410 Sprints more easily.  Super Dirt Week is among the top money makers as far as events go for World Racing Group, but it is a regional taste with a passionate fan base. Is there room for growth to other geographies? It's hard to say, but the question will be made a priority in our 2017 survey which will delve further into that territory as well as room for growth for Wingless Sprints. 

Q4: What National Series Interests You the Most? 

We asked fans to select three national series that interest them the most from the following list: One series was placed here with a dual purpose, to see how much familiarity there was among our fan base.  ASCoC Sprints/USMTS Modifieds/Lucas Oil ASCS and SDS Modifieds appear here and are not completely considered national tours, but run across more state lines than a typical regional series, or in the case of SDS, offer a purse that is greater than a regional one for full engine capacities and horsepower requirements. Basically, if the travel is beyond regional, and the series has a platinum level or full time drivers who travel to all shows, it is for our intents and purposes considered national.

  • All Star Sprints (ASCoC)
  • Lucas Oil Late Model Series
  • World of Outlaw Sprints
  • Super DIRTCar Series
  • World of Outlaw Late Models
  • USAC Sprints
  • USMTS Modifieds
  • USAC Midgets
  • King of the West Series (Sprints)
  • Lucas Oil ASCS Sprints
Here's the Responses We Gathered:

1. Lucas Oil Late Model Series- 212 Respondents (60%)
2. World of Outlaw Sprints- 200 Respondents (57%)
3. World of Outlaw Late Models- 199 Respondents (57%)
4. All Star (ASCoC) Sprints- 151 Respondents (43%)
5. USAC Sprints- 100 Respondents (28%)
6. Super DIRTCar Series- 90 Respondents (26%)
7. USMTS Modifieds- 57 Respondents (16%)
8. USAC Midgets- 35 Respondents (9.6%)
9. Lucas ASCS Sprints- 34 Respondents (9.6%)
10. King of the West Sprints- 7 Respondents *Test

What it Means? 

We were kind of surprised in the fact that World of Outlaw Sprints were not the top choice here, but it is close between the top three relatively speaking. And is not an accurate picture of what a fan spends per race to attend or what they buy. It's simply a question of what fans are interested in, and in our sample, Lucas Oil Late Model Series was the winner here.  Remember this, demand is based on what a customer is willing to spend, and that includes track owners and promoters who put up sanction fees.  This was simply a gauge of interest. Plain and simple, with interesting results.

Q5: What National Events Do You Make It a Point To Attend Every Year? 

So what races do you make it a point to never miss? We made a list and asked people to pick two of them. Here's the choices that were presented:

  • World Finals at Charlotte
  • Chili Bowl
  • Kings Royal
  • Knoxville Nationals
  • World 100
  • Dream 100
  • Super Dirt Week
  • Four Crown Nationals
  • North/South 100
  • Prairie Dirt Classic
  • USA Late Model Nationals-Cedar Lake
  • DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia
  • IMCA Supernationals
  • National Open at Williams Grove
  • Dirt Track World Championships
  • Wild West Shootout
  • Topless 100

Here's the Responses We Gathered: 

1. World Finals at Charlotte- 106 Respondents (30%)
2. Word 100- 85 Respondents (28%)
3. King's Royal- 71 Respondents (20%)
4. National Open at Williams Grove- 59 Respondents (17%)
5. Knoxville Nationals- 56 Respondents (16%)
6. Dream 100- 54 Respondents (15%)
7. Four Crown Nationals- 45 Respondents (13%)
8. Super DIRT Week- 37 Respondents (11%)
9. Dirt Track World Championships- 29 Respondents (8%)
9. DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia- 29 Respondents (8%)
10. North/South 100- 25 Respondents (7%)
11. Chili Bowl- 23 Respondents (6.5%)
12. IMCA Supernationals- 12 Respondents (3%)
13. Prairie Dirt Classic- 11 Respondents (3%)
14. Wild West Shootout- 9 Respondents (2.5%)
14. USA Nationals at Cedar Lake - 9 Respondents (2.5%)
15. Topless 100 - 5 Respondents (1%)

What it Means?

It means if most folks were told they could only pick two events a year out of our sample group, that they're going to any one of the top three to five events.  One thing that the results do tend to re confirm, is that the World 100 seems to be a more coveted race in the eyes of the fans than the Dream which typically pays much more to win. No real surprises here as all races are fairly reachable from where the greater part of our results came from.   And also, it appears about one out of 3 of the fan base at TDN will be at the World Finals come November!  See you there! 

Q6: Which National Event That You Have Never Attended, Would You Most Like To Attend?

Now we ask everyone if they had their choice of events to go they'd never gone before, where would they go? Only one choice was allowed here from the following possibilities: 

  • Knoxville Nationals
  • World Finals
  • Chili Bowl
  • Prairie Dirt Classic
  • King's Royal
  • World 100 
  • Dream 100
  • Four Crown Nationals
  • Super DIRT Week
  • DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia
  • National Open at Williams Grove
  • Topless 100
  • Wild West Shootout
  • IMCA Supernationals
  • World 100
  • Dream 100
  • USA Nationals at Cedar Lake
Here's The Responses We Gathered: 

1. Chili Bowl- 90 Respondents (26%)
2. Knoxville Nationals- 75 Respondents (21%)
3. World 100- 37 Respondents (10.5%)
4. World Finals- 32- Respondents (9%)
5. Prairie Dirt Classic- 25 Respondents (7%)
6. Dream 100- 21 Respondents (6%)

7. IMCA Supernationals- 13 Respondents (4%)
8. King's Royal- 11 Respondents (3%)
9. Super DIRT Week- 10 Respondents (2.8%)
10. DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia - 10 Respondents (2.8%)
11. Four Crown Nationals- 10 Respondents (2.8%)
12. National Open at Williams Grove- 6 Respondents (1.7%)
13. USA Nationals at Cedar Lake- 6 Respondents (1.7%)
14. Topless 100 - 3 Respondents (1%)
15. Wild West Shootout- 2 Respondents (.05%)

What it Means? 

Okay, talk about transcending all divisions. The Chili Bowl is the most sought after event among folks that have never been there. This coming from a sample audience that had a fairly decent percentage of traditional Late Model fans, or fans of all dirt racing.  We're betting it's the latter. But either way, it's not really even that close.  The rest of the results look fairly normal, with the exception of the Prairie Dirt Classic which is progressing from the "best kept secret in dirt racing" to bonafide must see event, outpacing the Dream 100.  These basically suggest that the Chili Bowl has moved from novelty, to respected event, to a must have ticket, it's the top of the proverbial "bucket list"

Q7: How Much Are You Willing To Pay To See Your Favorite National Touring Series Event? 

Not much explanation needed here. We asked how much you were willing to fork over to see that one event that was a must see.

Here were the price ranges listed:

  • $50
  • $45
  • $40
  • $35
  • $30
  • $25
And here's what you had to say:

1. $40- 126 Respondents (36%)
2, $35- 72 Respondents (22%)
3. $50- 66 Respondents (18%)
4. $30- 41 Respondents (12%)
5. $45- 30 Respondents (9%)
6. $25- 16 Respondents (5%)

What it Means?

Most folks are fairly reasonable with breaking out two, crisp 20 dollar bills for a national tour event as the most selected choice here.  Why $45 didn't fair better than $50 is anybody's guess.  We've seen prices at the $50 level for national events and some of you may have even paid more. Remember that ticket price is what the promoter/owner can charge that they can get the highest crowd for while making sure that their bottom line is met. Are prices headed higher in 2017? We're not totally sure, but without a doubt, prices for a top national event are in line if not better than can be found for any of the four major sports unless you like to sit so far away that it almost makes no sense to be in the crowd in the first place. Thankfully, almost every seat in dirt racing offers a much better view than a cheap seat at a baseball game relatively speaking! And you can bring your own snacks too in most cases! 

Okay, this part is done and serves as an introduction to how the rest of the survey will be presented. In part two we'll delve into the home track or weekly operation, discussing how you like your track, what kind of surface to you like, how are the concessions, and how the customer service goes.  Part three will finish with a glimpse into the future of the sport and the role social media has to play in the industry and your thoughts and feelings on it! Stay tuned. 

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