You Won’t Keep ‘Em All Happy

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Racetrack promoters/managers have a tough job these days. They are trying to keep costs down while paying drivers a fair purse while also putting on a good show for the fans. That’s not to mention having a smooth racing surface (with more than one racing lane) while making sure the fans don’t get covered in dirt.

It is a tough job. At the same time you also have to realize fans and drivers pay gate/entry fees to get in, and they have a right to their opinion, too. Constructive criticism, when it is fair and not personal attacks on race officials/workers, can help make a racing program better, and promoters need to recognize that. For example: if you start your racing program 30 minutes late, people have the right not to be happy about it. Maybe they want more options at the concession stands; or bring in a class for a special event, etc.

It goes too far when people go on social media and just bash promoters/officials with personal name calling but I think most intelligent people get that. Besides the bad night a driver may have may have nothing to do with the operation of the track. Maybe he/she was wrecked by another competitor or blew a motor or whatever.

Keeping all of that in mind, there is one other thing track promoters/managers need to remember: you won’t keep ‘em all happy.

If your approach to running a track is based on keeping everyone happy you probably won’t ever be satisfied. In the end it should come down to running the best racing program you can for drivers and fans alike and sticking to that plan, and not expecting perfection or to have every driver and fan go home happy. If you try to cater to everyone and every little gripe you run the fear of being inconsistent (for example, enforcement of rules, etc.) and you lose some credibility.

I can relate in a way to the keep-people-happy thing. I worked in the newspaper field for more than 10 years, including seven as a sports editor of daily newspaper in Marshall, MN. Our sports section won awards for best sports section for newspapers our size in the state of Minnesota and considering the size of our staff, put out a good product that covered a lot of schools and sports.

Yet, there were still unhappy readers no matter how hard we tried. Examples: You don’t cover (fill in the sport) enough. Jane Doe’s name is in the paper too much. You don’t mention John Smith’s name enough. Some of the complaints, frankly, were parents attempting to live their childhood through their kids (when it came to recognition/attention), and we dismissed them. I also dismissed all anonymous gripes; if you don’t have the guts to sign your name to something then I don’t listen, I say.

We weren’t perfect and when we made mistakes we needed to be accountable. And when we got fair criticism by faithful readers — who put their names on their comments/complaints — we owed them at least to listen.

But one day I realized something — no matter what we did or how much we covered, we were never going to keep anyone happy. When you accept that reality your approach changes and you rest easier at night

Same with running a racetrack. Or a restaurant. Or any kind of business.

Your job is to be fair and do the best you can to treat people that way. In racing that includes drivers, fans and the track workers. In the end that is all you can do.

Because in the end, you won’t keep ‘em all happy.

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