Using Fireworks the Right Way

With the end of the season upon us, some tracks may be looking to use fireworks in their big shows or to take a smaller show and make it a BIG show. Peery Brown of Wythe Raceway in Virginia tells us how they used fireworks to create a huge show in July, but fireworks are a great promotional tool any time of year, no matter what your budget.

A lot of states have increased requirements for commercial fireworks shows to the point that many municipalities can no longer do them. This actually turns out to be a great thing for race tracks. Race tracks can do a show based on stadium type fireworks. These are much smaller shots and require a much less safety radius. In Virginia the requirement is for every 1” of munition, you have to maintain a 100’ radius from the audience. Most towns require at least a 3” shot to gain enough altitude to make an effective viewing distance, which requires a 600’ diameter safety zone! 5” mortars are not uncommon and that takes it to 1000’. That is a big area to vacate in the middle of most towns.

Out of the 3 shows that we had in our county, only one is left. Enter Wythe Raceway. We have been doing big commercial shows for many years, but so has everyone else and theirs was free. Now that there has been such a decline in commercial shows, people are turning to other venues, like race tracks, even if they are not free. Our “Fireworks N Racn” show has steadily grown each year. But with the increase of regulations we saw 1000 “new” customers at our 2013 event. This year it was a whopping 1500 more! The best part is you don’t have to do anything out of wythefireworksyour normal marketing routine. We do not use consumer fireworks and that is a BIG difference. We contract with a company called Pyrotecnico out of New Castle, PA. They have offices in 12 states so chances are good one is near you. You will have to decide on what kind of show you want and how much you want to spend. Our budget right now is at $7,000. We don’t drag the show out, it’s less than 10 minutes, yeah $7,000 gone in 10 minutes. Don’t let that fool you, it is a sensory overload and time stands still. Fans have insisted that it was 20 minutes long and don’t believe us when we say “Nope, less than 10 minutes.” What makes this show so good? We have evolved our show into the use of 3 items, “cakes”, “mortars” and a massive grand finale.

The cakes are pretty simple cardboard boxes with 50-600 1” and under shots in them. They require minimal clearance. 100’ in our case and they are amazing. We set these off on pit road. Outside of our back straight, we set up racks of 3” mortars and our massive 2.5” 400 shot grand finale. The technicians talk with each other via radio and coordinate the show by shooting a cake off on the front straight while the techs on the back straight lob the bigger 3” mortars overhead. It’s what we call an “over and under” show.

If you have a very small stadium you can do a whole show with just cakes. They even have finale cakes. They are boxes with 50 2.5” mortars and they rock! I once let a box of those off in the town of Rural Retreat and I had 5 cop cars there in less than 5 minutes! Good thing they were friends of the track.

Our July 5th, 2014 show worked just like this, we ran 5 of our normal car classes, there was no purse increase, we charge $11 at the gate, $1 more than normal, $25 at the pit. We did not run any kind of late models that night. We advertised via social media 100%. One unusual thing did happen this year, we had a neighboring town invite our drivers and cars to their main street “Red, White and Blue party the night before the race. That town was one of the towns that found themselves unable to do a free fireworks show and they gave our track a rolling endorsement.

We had an attendance of almost 4,000 people. We were expecting 2,500. Pits were in the 400 range. Our only increase in expense was the $7,000 in fireworks, you do the math!

Don’t insult your crowd by advertising “Huge Fireworks Show!” and then going to your local consumer store and spending a couple of hundred dollars. July 4th weekend comes once a year, make it work! It’s going to take several thousand to do this correctly and it make take a year or two, but once word gets out hang on! Not everybody likes dirt track racing, but everybody loves fireworks and they might even realize how good dirt track racing is once they have a reason to go to one!

-Peery Brown

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