By Guest Blogger: Steve Post
American’s love to eat, and good racing and great food go hand-in-hand. In fact; good ANYTHING these days goes hand-in-hand with great food. We are a food-crazed society.
And while the food fanaticism is more recent; I think about my youth going to racetracks in Upstate New York and I can still taste the Hoffman Hot Dogs from Oswego or Weedsport. And, the fresh cut fries at Rolling Wheels were worth the two hour trip.
And while those classics are outstanding hot dogs and fries, today’s “food crazy” culture wants more and in many cases more extravagant!
The “Fabulous” Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania is known for great 410 sprint car racing. And the Sensinig’s Catering stand piles pit-cooked beef, turkey and ham up in huge sandwiches. And then Shorty’s Funnel Cakes serves up deep-fried treats included Oreo cookies with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.
Eating is part of the fun at Lincoln and they do it right.
Some tracks have their own “classic” like the Bologna burger at South Boston Speedway in Virginia. It’s simple on a visit to the half-mile track in Virginia…. you HAVE to have a bologna burger.
As short track promoters you know that the days of opening the gates and counting the money are long gone; it is long hours and hard work. And, so are the days of throwing some burgers on the grill and ringing up sales. The fan now expects more than that at any event… it’s all part of the “fan experience”.
In 2014 I think there are two good starting points for a track looking to bulk up the “fan experience” with some culinary treats: think county fairs and food trucks.
No trip to the county fair is complete without eating something that’s ridiculously delicious. From the sausage stands with wheels of pork simmering in mounds of onions and peppers, to cheese-steaks the size of canoes, to deep fried anything. And, consider the food truck craze in America. Remember when they were considered a “roach coach”, “gut truck” or “chuck wagon?” Not anymore! Kicked up grilled cheese, soul food, trucks celebrating bacon and ANY other possible theme make these trucks hugely popular and they are putting out amazing food.
(Oh, and by the way: these food trucks have huge lists of “followers” that might just like trying a night at a local speedway, along with their favorite fare.)
Sometimes it’s the food and sometimes it’s in the promotion or marketing of the food.
At Penn Can Speedway in the early 90’s we had salt potatoes that sold all right. They became “Aunt Irene’s Salt Potatoes” (named after our concession stand manager) and they soon were one of the top selling items. Same item, better name equals more sales. In June I returned “home” to Penn Can and as a group of us chatted, someone said: “I wish right now I had some of Aunt Irene’s Salt Potatoes”. And we remembered how good they were; 20 years later.
Look and see what you can add. It can be extravagant or extreme or it can become your classic fare. Consider how you can name, brand or market what you currently have on the menu.
The Jesse Jones brand hot dog is unique, but nothing special. Yet, when NASCAR fans flock into Southern Virginia twice annually and enjoy 50,000 Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dogs per weekend those hot dogs become very special…part of the “fan experience”.
Editor’s Note: Email Todd Adams at email@example.com if you want to find out more about how our food program can help your bottom line and get you tasty, creative new foods on the menu!