Why isn't track racing more popular??

Discussion in 'Track Racing' started by runna, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. runna

    runna New Member

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    I was just wondering why track cycling is much more popular. Cycling itself is immensly popular, just look at the coverage of events like the TDF, or go out on the road on teh weekend see how many people spend a lot of money on road cycling equipment. But as a spectator sport, road cycling is similar to car rallying. You can only pick one spot, wait a few hours, see the pack wizz past and then that's it. With track cycling you can watch multiple entire races, not miss anything - all from the comfort of a seat with food and drink etc nearby, and even weather protection in most bigger velodromes.

    It also seems like it is perfect for television coverage. It is in a fixed arena so it would be easy to set up television cameras, and a velodrome is perfect for advertising.

    Was wondering what everyone else thinks...
     
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  2. ubolt

    ubolt New Member

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    You know, it was only the other day i was thinking this, i was re-watching the Olympic Games cycling coverage, as i taped most of it, and i was thinking how this could not be as popular.


    It is almost because of Television Coverage isn't it? Road Cycling appears on television so much more, because there is a different race like every week, whether that be stage races or one-day classics and so on. Yet Track Cycling doesn't seem to have that amount of racing, (or if it does i don't seem to hear about it) i think it is a bit to do with sponsors, which sort of company wants to be seen once every couple of weeks rather than on the road where you can be seen for 6 hours a day for up to 4 weeks in the Tour de France.
     
  3. runna

    runna New Member

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    I would have thought that track racing was perfect for sponsorship. Heaps of room for advertising placement, spectator interaction etc. similar to motor sport advertising.
     
  4. ubolt

    ubolt New Member

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    good point, i see what you are getting at.

    Track Cycling though there is a fair bit of downtime also, A 4 minute team pursuit and then another ten minutes until the next race. Live TV coverage is a bit slow.
     
  5. ed073

    ed073 New Member

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    The general viewing public will find a lot of events and the tactics used difficult to understand.....makes it hard to market to the broadest audience.
     
  6. ceya

    ceya New Member

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    In michigan (US) they have it on their local TV. They show Madison races.

    S/F,
    CEYA!
     
  7. Shiznaz

    Shiznaz New Member

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    A) people don't know what the hell track cycling is about
    B) theres not enough damned velodromes around to get lots of people into it
    C) Peoples favorite part about road racing is:
    a) Lance Armstrong
    b) the peloton
    c) the scenery and changing environment (everybody loves watching the racers struggle up hills)
    d) they can tune in for 5 minutes every few days to catch some of the tour de france (you have to actively hunt down track races because they are too short and get hidden away in the TV schedule).
    D) it is easier to attend a road race because its free, you only have to be there for a little while, most spectators are local.
    E) it is hard to attend a track race because theres not enough damned velodromes


    I'm probably leaving out a few key facts... non-trackies hate the first laps in the match sprint too. it breaks their fragile minds.
     
  8. szbert

    szbert New Member

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    I've been track racing 30+years (Since I was 9). In the USA and Europe. I think the real reason is we never had a "great" track racer. I know, Marty Nothstein. But Nothstein is a bit of a jerk and lacks the professionalism and "human interest" of Greg Lemond (shot in a hunting accident, returns to win TDF), or Lance (Cancer, duh.) Track racing is fun to watch, but the many varied events that make it fun to watch, make it confusing to understand for newbies. Also, everyone can relate to riding a bike on a road, up a hill, etc. But how many have been paced by a derny in a keirin, ridden three laps, only the last one of which they actually sprinted (Match Sprint), chased another guy on the opposite side of the track (Pursuit), grabbed a team mate by the butt or hand and throw them in the race (madison), etc.

    The Lehiigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown PA has, bar none, the most successful track racing program in the USA. Development, big crowds (1,500 and up every Friday), sponsorship, attracts top racers, develops top racers, etc. But no one else in the USA has broken the code. By contrast in Australia, they have far more velodromes per capita and have several velodromes with great racing programs - as does Belgium, France, Germany & Holland.

    Pat McDonaugh, who used to run the program at T-Town is now at USA Cycling to raise the standard of the track programs across the USA. Pat's a very capable, and proven. But I fear it's too big a project unless he's given the $upport he needs, and a good staff. The Australian cycling budget is 3X the USA Cycling budget.

    In the end, it's up to us, the riders, to race at our velodromes, support them, and spread word of mouth every where we can how awesome it is as a spectator and participant.
     
  9. velomanct

    velomanct New Member

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    i think the number one reason is because there are simply too few velodromes.
     
  10. runna

    runna New Member

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    So maybe there is the age old problem. Not popular enough because there are not enough velodromes, not enough velodromes because it is not popular enough.
     
  11. zircon

    zircon New Member

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    I'm a sprinter...match sprints and any sprinting is fine...I must say I find points and endurance racing damn boring (shoot me)...so you have to ask yourself, if I find it boring, what about the rest of the world who lie on their couch?

    Another thing...road races have this AMAZING carnival atmosphere...somehow it's just happening...which I have not seen nor experienced at any other track event.

    So really I can see vaguely why it's not popular, but not sure what to do about it?
     
  12. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Since we don't have velodromes here in the South, I've been wondering if the local 1/4 mile asphalt stock car track would be a good substitute. It's smooth asphalt, banked on both the turns and straightaways, with grandstands, etc all set up.

    Our club sponsors state crits, TTs and road races, but it would be fun to do some track-style racing, or at least do some club training on a banked track. Would be a lot of fun to ride and race on the banking.

    Would this track work for bike racing? And please feel free to flame away if the question is too dumb....I know nothing about track racing other than having seen it on TV once or twice.
     
  13. ceya

    ceya New Member

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    That will be good as on a velodrome since the only difference is that you will have more room.

    LOL

    S/F,
    CEYA!
     
  14. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Yes, plenty of width. Will have to check out the pavement quality and the banking before talking to the club. Since it's used Friday nights for car racing, it's possible oil on the track or other debris will make it unsafe for bikes.

    Realize it's not like a classic wooden track, but might be good enough for a mid-week evening training series so we can play at track racing. Insurance may be a problem. Wonder if anyone else uses car or motocycle tracks as velodromes?

    Found a good article on the basics in cycling news:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/track/?id=trackoverview00
     
  15. Budarz

    Budarz New Member

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    I am in agreement that track cycling should be way more popular than it is as a spectator sport. It would be nice for us riders too if we could earn real bucks while racing. If I were to clean up on Friday night in Indianapolis - one of the larger US venues, I'd take home around $100. That's no way to invite new talent. Don't get all judgmental like I'm in it for the money. Fact is that more riders=more talent. Money draws riders in.

    Many people made the argument that there are too few velodromes. One problem with that arguement is that if you do some research, there were tens if not hundreds (seriously) of velodromes across the country during the past decades that closed due to ill repair or lack of interest/funding.

    I suspect America forgot bicycle racing on velodromes when automobile racing became more popular. Everybody who knows nothing at all about cars -people who couldn't define a combustion chamber for $10,000 will go to the Indy 500 to chug a dozen beers and then drive home.

    Some argue that the spectator doesn't understand the rules of track racing. Tell me how many tens of thousands of illiterate, less-than-average-IQ guys know every rule in football by instinct rather than memory, and then convince me they couldn't learn to enjoy knowing the rules of track cycling and watching the racing (while chugging a bud).

    Yet another argued that there's too much down time. My a$$ that's the problem. Look at the NHRA. That's the National Hot Rod Association. There they have cars line up at the start of a drag strip, run a 4 to 8 second 1/4 mile, pull the parachute to stop at the end and then wait minutes for the next racers to set up. The TV commentators cover the down time with... what?... commercials?! They also do little biographies of the racers to fill time. At the velodrome you don't even need to inhale nitrous oxide and burnt rubber fumes all afternoon - maybe just a little methane from the energy bars;)

    Bottom line to me is that the sport has all the potential of real spectator sports. The problem is momentum. It would take a large movement to get it to work. We need more sponsors to pay more racers to entertain more fans to encourage the building of new velodromes to give the sponsors a place to advertise. Do you see what I mean!? If not, read the sentense again. The beginning requires the end. What it would take is someone with connections, a whole lot of money, and their balls to hang on the line. I predict it'd be a success.

    In the mean time we have word of mouth and wonderful internet forums such as this one.
     
  16. Mutt

    Mutt New Member

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    Here in Asheville, we've had the gift of a 1/3 mile (491 meters) motor track that is now part of a local park. Tuesday evenings we run a race series with 3 track events in 2 categories and two points races for road bikes. There are probably 75 racers and a couple of hundred spectators for this low-key event. All year long, we have a Saturday am fixed gear workout, and timed events in the winter. In September, the track lost about 50 feet of turn 3 in the floods of Hurricane Ivan, but the city parks and rec. department has rebuilt it and will have it paved next week, so the track bikes are coming out again. Results from the Asheville Mellowdrome are posted on cyclingnews.com with a lot of pictures, and there's info at www.abrc.net, the Asheville Bicycle Racing Club website. One of our riders, Nancy Daigler Lux, began her race career there, and has a few stars and stripes jerseys from track nationals. So, you see, motor venues have their possibilities.

    Mutt
     
  17. Budarz

    Budarz New Member

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    It's good to hear it. I'm in the Indianapolis area. I'll see what I can do about sequestering the Indy 500 track. Stay posted;)
     
  18. Mutt

    Mutt New Member

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    Cool! I guess the yard-long brick section will make that the Paris-Roubaix of track racing. Won't it be a long way back around the track after the 500m TT?:rolleyes:

    Mike in Asheville
     
  19. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Mike: Thanks, this is a really useful response and website. I'll talk to our club race director and see if there is any interest in trying to get track racing started at Huntsville Speedway similar to what you're doing in Asheville.
     
  20. Gilders

    Gilders New Member

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    Must say, even if there is alot of downtime, I'd rather watch track sprinting any day, rather than make do with some of the existing "thrilling" sports coverage available on UK terrestrial TV, e.g.;

    darts
    snooker
    bowls
    cricket

    Can't go on...too much of a struggle to keep eyes open... so very very tired......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

    Seriously though, I presume alot of it is down to lack of widespread exposure, leading to lack of understanding, leading to lack of popular demand, and around we go again ad nauseum. Bizarre though as to what does make it into the popular psyche - why, for instance, do a bunch of (usually) fat blokes throwing small pointy objects into a board in a wall get airtime, whilst other pub games like dominoes and shove-penny don't? Can't really say that one is any less tedious than the other.

    By the way, what kind of coverage do you people tend to get of any cycling full-stop in your homelands anyway? Very little of it here, even the TDF televisation has slipped by the wayside.
     
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