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Ohio Civil War - what does it all mean?

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  • Ohio Civil War - what does it all mean?

    As promised to JK47 in another post, I decided to gather my thoughts on this current situation and post them here. Some is fact, some may be fiction, and some is purely speculation and opinion. I do not claim to have ALL the details. However, I do talk to many of the key players and I gather my own conclusions. For those unaware of what I mean by "key players"...in the past few months I've had conversations with Guy Webb, Rob Hunter, Rich Farmer, Rex LeJeune, Brad McCown, Jason Flory, Kenny Dobson, and a handful of drivers, owners, media members and sponsors. I would say that is a good cross reference of the situation. Enough to formulate an educated assessment of what we are dealing with. Let's begin...

    The All Stars. Tradition. Iconic. Name recognition. The series has been a staple in the Ohio area since 1970. The name draws the casual fan. Regardless of who signs the checks at the end of the night, the average occasional fan only knows the All Star brand. Good or bad, promoters understand this and the safe thing to do to protect their business is to stick with what people know. It has very little to do with who is in charge. Only the people behind the scenes know or care what happens at the payout window. The fans just want to see a good show. You can argue that its just not a good show anymore. As a fan, I will argue that I have been to a lot of really good All Star races in the past couple of years. Good crowd. Good car counts. Good racing. Good payout. As a person who knows what happens behind the scenes, I get it. I have seen it first hand. I have had many, many head-butting sessions with Guy Webb in the past 10+ years. At the same time I still respect what he has done, what he needs to do, and how he conducts his business. I may not agree with it, but I understand it. I also understand why Shane Helms felt he needed to step up and do things his own way. Has Guy Webb made mistakes. Yes...without question. Will Shane Helms make mistakes? Yes...without question. The difference will be seen in how those situations are handled. Guy certainly has a way with words. Dale Blaney noted this on Twitter after the latest incident with Lenny Sammons. I don't think we'll ever see that with Helms, but the Renegades have already shown they know how to make mistakes with the Frankie Kerr deal and with the shuffling of race dates currently going on. My point is...regardless of the leadership, mistakes will happen and they are unavoidable in this business. How they are dealt with is the difference maker.

    The Renegades. New. Fresh. Exciting. Virtually unknown. The series came busting out of the gates late in 2014. Rather than plan and proceed with caution into the off-season and take the time to get things in some kind of order to launch their assault on the All Stars, they lobbed grenades at the rival series by scheduling against them right out of the gate. This got track promoters in an uproar. Promoters are a pretty tight bunch in Ohio. They work together to try to avoid stepping each others toes as much as possible. The inaugural Renegade event and the other that followed, while exciting and new, already had many people upset. Not upset that these guys were trying something new, but upset at the fact of HOW it was being done out of spite and with a seeming disregard for other promoters in the area. I know this is not true, but this is how it was perceived by some. At the same time, there still was no official plan in place, no rules, no event staff, no sponsors. Just "a desire to do something different" as Helms stated on the Last Lap show. I have nothing against anyone involved in this deal. I started the FAST series because I (or WE) thought we could do things better and it worked out. I get along fine with Rob Hunter. I like Larry Helms. I've never met Shane, but I'm sure he's a good guy with good intentions. The people involved have never been an issue when I have said I think this bad for the sport. I have my reasons stated throughout this post.

    There were lots of questions being raised. Lots of unknowns. Plenty of concern and no answers to where this was all headed. Promoters got nervous. An effort was made early on to stick together and not book this new series until things were straightened out. Atomic Speedway was not part of the solidarity. They sided with the Renegades and persuaded others to give these guys a chance. The dominoes began to fall. The Renegades were persistent and went after tracks who do not have a long standing relationship with the All Stars. As more and more dates were added, suddenly this was looking like a viable alternative to the All Stars. A few bumps in the road later with the misfire in the media regarding Frankie Kerr taking the series director position, and the Renegades managed to sway WCS their way. The battle was heating up around Thanksgiving. It looked as if we'd head into 2015 with the two series going head to head. May the best man win. Competition is the American way. It tends to improve the product and many fans were excited about how things COULD get better through all of this.

    Then it happened. The interview. The insults. The derogatory remarks. You've all seen it by now. No need in repeating it. It was the game changer. It heavily influenced the decision for Attica to hand all 5 of their traditional All Star dates to the Renegades. At the same time, the Jacksonville date with the MOWA and NSL series had the All Star name removed from it. The hammer had dropped. Drivers and fans threatened to boycott All Star races all together. Promoters are still scrambling to figure it all out. What happens next? Who is keeping their All Star dates and who isn't? What happens in Florida in February? Who is going to attend? Where does this leave us?

    At the time I am writing this, my sources say the paperwork is being drawn up for the All Star series to be sold. Who has made offers? Many are on the table from what I'm told. Rich Farmer, Brad McCown, WoO, UNOH, and others have all shown interest. Rumors of TSR making an offer are still unconfirmed. Meanwhile, Rob Hunter has purchased a 25% share of what may or may not be the current legal entity of the All Star series from Jean Lynch (remember those silent partners that were part of the original purchase from the Emicks?). The lawyers are in the process of sorting that all out. What is real and what is smoke and mirrors? Time will tell. The latest I have heard is that there are "teams of lawyers" sorting through this and figuring out the legalities of trademarks, copyrights, corporations, shareholders, etc etc etc. That could take months to get to the bottom of piles of paperwork involved. What does that mean at this point? I don't know, but it sure doesn't sound promising for All Star fans, promoters, or drivers unless someone can step up and save the day. It will get worse before it gets better...and meanwhile the Renegades keep gaining ground and promoters who haven't flipped yet are wondering what to do and where this is headed. See why I keep calling this a "big mess"? It has nothing to do with the Renegades or anyone involved with the series. It is a statement about the general state of affairs across the board in Ohio at the moment.

    To quickly recap why I believe having two rival series in close proximity to each other is bad for the sport:
    - scheduling is a problem with limited tracks to choose from and scheduling against one another or against other premier local events becomes unavoidable
    - too many $5000 to win shows in a small area and over short periods of time is bad for fans, not drivers. Fans will start to pick and choose how many they can afford to attend as ticket prices will be higher for those events. Attendance will drop off, then promoters are left holding the bag and paying the bigger purses.
    - too many sanctioned events in a small region removes the "special" from "special show" and it becomes the norm once the novelty wears off. Promotion becomes more difficult.
    - local shows will suffer with car counts as the teams able to travel to one or the other series on a regular basis within short driving distances will leave the porch...which again is good for the drivers, but bad for local track promoters and fans...the folks who open their wallets to make all of this possible to pay the purse.
    - new series has not shown that they have their own identity with how shows are run, rules, points and race procedures. As a fan, what am I getting that is different?
    - Ohio promoters need to work together to make this all work out across the state with schedules and premier events; causing a split will create nothing but problems and the big losers will again be the fans when forced to choose between shows they want to attend; the market becomes over-saturated
    - Sponsors are spread so thin now, its almost impossible to draw in new ones to the sport. One more series competing for the same bucket of money doesn't help anything in this area.

    I think that's enough of my random thoughts on this whole topic. Pretty much sums up what has been happening and what my opinions are. Feel free to rip this to shreds. You all are entitled to your own opinions. Beat me up all you want, but support the tracks, the teams, and the promoters who bust their butts for your entertainment. They deserve your support regardless of what flag they are flying.
    ~~ Connect with me on LinkedIn ~~
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanautullo

  • #2
    Sounds like a pretty fair summary of the current state of 410 racing in this area.
    Last edited by DirtRacefan; January 7th, 2015, 06:17 AM.

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    • #3
      That's a lot of blah, blah, blah to say you want to watch the All Stars at Fremont...lol

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Chris Kettman View Post
        That's a lot of blah, blah, blah to say you want to watch the All Stars at Fremont...lol
        Didn't take long for you to get to the punch line. I could've summarized I guess. haha
        ~~ Connect with me on LinkedIn ~~
        http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanautullo

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        • #5
          Appreciate your post Swamp that makes things clearer to me from your point of view.

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          • #6
            Chapter 2 will read something along the lines of:

            I also believe that all competitors, good or bad, young or old, rookie or veteran should be treated with the utmost respect on and off the track by the series they follow. By the same token, those drivers must also respect the series and the decisions that are made. At no time should there be name calling and back stabbing and belittling the people who make the whole thing tick. Track promoters, series promoters, team owners, drivers, and crew members who participate in such activities will eventually get what they have coming to them. There are only a few bridges to burn in this business, and once you've used up all of your napalm you may find yourself on an island with no more bridges. That said - I fully understand the Renegade concept. I support their efforts, but I wish it was being done differently - with more unilateral support across Ohio. If the All Stars come out of this with new ownership, I will also support them as well in hopes that all the king's horses and all the king's men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again!
            ~~ Connect with me on LinkedIn ~~
            http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanautullo

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            • #7
              Maybe sometime soon you(Swamp) can form a sprint car series and call the shots, and have everyone micromanage every decision you make.

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              • #8
                You nor anybody else will ever please everyone, that's life and life is too short

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                • #9
                  Look this didn't happen over night. Webb has played games for years with owners and drivers. I think it all came to a head at Wayne County this year. It was a safety issue there. Rain outs hurt the speed week this year. He wanted to run after the first rain, several drivers were not going to run and some had packed up and left. That is when the flood gates opened.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Still Playin' In The Dirt View Post
                    Maybe sometime soon you(Swamp) can form a sprint car series and call the shots, and have everyone micromanage every decision you make.
                    What a great idea!!! I shall call it F.A.S.T.
                    ~~ Connect with me on LinkedIn ~~
                    http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanautullo

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                    • #11
                      And this time it stands for Former All Star Teams

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                      • #12
                        Sky hawk - you are right. I worked for the All Stars from 2003 - 2008. I saw a lot of things good and bad. I saw Webb treat a lot of people with very little respect and I saw a lot of people treat him with very little respect. It went both ways for sure. Always has...and still does. I guess you get what you give, but that never seemed to bother him. The WCS incident wasn't anything new. We had a similar deal at Hilltop back in 2007. You can point to a lot of things and blame Webb, but he wasn't ALWAYS the one to blame. Lots of people don't care much for his way of handling things, but not everything is as it appears on the surface. I have seen promoters cut purses after the gates opened. I have seen promoters disappear with the purse money at the end of the night and claim it was "stolen". I have seen promoters cancel shows because the weather was iffy and the crowd was light. I have seen promoters hand Webb an IOU at the end of the night because the weather kept the crowd home, but they decided to race anyway. I've had checks bounce because of it. Did I get on social media and make a big case out of it? No...I worked it out and waited and got paid. He paid me every dime he ever owed me. Maybe not on time, but it always got covered. I'm not defending how he has treated people or the comments made over the years on many different topics, but I am saying from a business perspective, I always got paid what I was owed and was treated fairly. I can only speak for myself. I quit the series in 2008 for many reasons. After 5 years with the All Stars and 5 years with FAST I had enough. Now I'm just another dumb keyboard jockey like everyone else on here enjoying the show. I have no stake in who comes out on top, but I don't want to see the battle causing harm to the local tracks and teams. I do seriously hope that in some way, the split eventually creates a stronger bond at some point down the road. Sometimes you have to tear down the old structure to build a new one in its place. Right now the demolition crew is just about wrapping things up.
                        ~~ Connect with me on LinkedIn ~~
                        http://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanautullo

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                        • #13
                          1. Sponsors are spread so thin now, its almost impossible to draw in new ones to the sport. One more series competing for the same bucket of money doesn't help anything in this area.
                          2. causing a split will create nothing but problems and the big losers will again be the fans when forced to choose between shows they want to attend; the market becomes over-saturated.

                          Yes, number one is a huge issue that WILL get worse if both series continue.
                          To point two, the market will be over saturated, but once that's over with it may well become under saturated as car owners, fans and tracks may not survive the financial issues.

                          The 1989 USA - WOO battle comes to mind and only one survived. The 2005 NST - WOO battle for those a little younger.

                          I guess history has a way of repeating itself. I just hate to see it all go down the tubes....

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                          • #14
                            I think the Renegades are here to stay , at least this year . They will be building steam while Webb and the All Stars "sort it out" with the lawyers etc . Once the lawyers are involved , speed will not be in their favor . jmo

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JCD View Post
                              1. Sponsors are spread so thin now, its almost impossible to draw in new ones to the sport. One more series competing for the same bucket of money doesn't help anything in this area.
                              2. causing a split will create nothing but problems and the big losers will again be the fans when forced to choose between shows they want to attend; the market becomes over-saturated.

                              Yes, number one is a huge issue that WILL get worse if both series continue.
                              To point two, the market will be over saturated, but once that's over with it may well become under saturated as car owners, fans and tracks may not survive the financial issues.

                              The 1989 USA - WOO battle comes to mind and only one survived. The 2005 NST - WOO battle for those a little younger.

                              I guess history has a way of repeating itself. I just hate to see it all go down the tubes....

                              There is a reason all of this happens. A series becomes too complacent and stops trying to improve their series for fans, tracks, and especially drivers/owners. Therefore, a new series starts to try and do these things

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