From the Editor
Couple of thoughts ahead of this month’s Small Car Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin:
1) I think there’s a lot more to Donk racing than meets the eye. Beyond their blingy exterior and somewhat disorienting geometry, these custom drag cars perched atop 26-inch wheels—and the folks that champion them—have carved out a viable niche across large swaths of the US. Led by charismatic frontman Sage “Donkmaster” Thomas, the movement is certainly media-friendly: Millions have tuned into his show on MotorTrend, and viewed his (and others’) videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Indeed, one gets the sense that we’re still in the early stages of what could be a deep run for the Donkmaster and his National Donk Racing Association. “My long-term goal is to show the world what big-wheel cars can do,” proclaimed Thomas, the subject of this month’s Industry Insights column beginning on page 26. “I want to go racing in Japan and Dubai and Australia, and just travel the globe with it.” Closer to home, some familiar names have already taken up with the big-wheel phenomenon. Thomas cited Moser Engineering and FTI Performance as steadfast partners. “And now Mark Menscer of Menscer Motorsports has helped us a lot on moving the shock program forward,” he added. “It’s something to see!” We enjoyed visiting with Thomas for this piece that showcases his big personality, big ambitions, and big plans for the future of big-wheel racing.
2) While every motorsports complex faces unique challenges based on location, demographics, etc., I do think our Special Report this month, “Community Relations,” reveals some secret-sauce strategies that, when tailored appropriately, can help keep race tracks in their neighbors’ good graces. For the piece, which begins on page 38, author Steve Statham spoke with operators whose aims extend far beyond hosting a great event on race day. At Long Pond, Pennsylvania-based Pocono Raceway, for example, staff is encouraged to “find various groups in the region and join and see how they can give back,” Ben May told us. “That’s been a big deal for us, making sure that we’re approachable, that we’re not just seen as this group that brings in a ton of people once a year and then disappears.” Of the nearly half-dozen tracks sourced in our article, in fact, all reported significant involvement with their local business communities, nonprofits, and charitable organizations. That approach runs deep for the team at Evergreen Speedway, about 45 minutes north of Seattle. “[When] it comes to schools, churches, kids, animals, we always find a way to say yes,” Doug Hobbs explained. “When you help a lot and people know you are doing it for the right reasons, they’ll be a lot more accommodating when you need something to help you.” The accommodation Hobbs references is something Alaska Raceway Park’s Michelle Lackey Maynor has experienced firsthand, and in various capacities. Whether they’re defending the track against social media trolls or helping crowdfund a capital improvement project, racers and fans throughout the 49th state have rallied around her motorsports facility, time and again, as if it was their own: “If you start thinking about it,” she said, “[it’s] kind of overwhelming.”