The challenges of 2020 will make this a year we will never forget. Despite the difficulties, we can look back at the 2020 racing season with many things to be thankful for as we reflect over the Thanksgiving holiday.
I am thankful to have announced at over 40 race events, thanks largely to the efforts of Kenny Shepherd and Short Track TV, Bill McAnally and Speed Sport TV, and FloRacing. Announcing nearly exclusively over live streaming has become the new norm and it enabled motorsports to move forward. It also allowed the sport to adapt into the digital age, which will pay dividends no matter what the future entails.
I am thankful to the track and series promoters who took a leap of faith to not only host racing events but in most cases, grow their events in significant ways. Tracks such as Antioch, Merced, and Keller Auto Speedway were invigorated with new promotion and new ideas, highlighted by significant events with major car counts and purses. Nearly every form of motorsport in California saw progression and not regression, a thought nearly unimaginable when we entered the statewide lockdown on March 19, 2020.
I am thankful for the race teams who supported their tracks and series with vigor, even in the face of economic difficulties in their lives. The fall saw many events reach peaks unseen in several years such as blockbuster car counts at the Pettit Shootout, John Fore Memorial, Retro Custom Metals 137, and the Cal Cup. Thank you for making the sacrifices it takes to get a race team to the track during a global pandemic.
I am also thankful for what I see going into 2021. The energy level behind asphalt Pro Late Models has created opportunities for drivers and tracks that were impossible just a few years ago. Ending the year with 30 Open Pro Late Models on the grounds at Madera served as a testament to the strength of these efforts. I am glad to see Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021, giving hope to countless young racers from working class families that the dream can still be realized. I am also thankful for corporations who support the sport, from the grassroots level on up to Camping World joining the NHRA. Every single supporter counts!
Last but not least I am thankful for the fans. In-person attendance was nearly non-existent in 2020 yet the fans continued to purchase merchandise, post on social media, read websites like Short Track Live, and subscribe to Pay Per View streaming platforms. Instead of the pandemic turning fans off, racing continues to enjoy a loyal following unrivaled in sports. When fans have been allowed, such as the Tom Tarlton Classic at Hanford, the passion was beyond evident. I can’t wait to see the race fans back in full force soon.