Emo Speedway promoter Sonny Ferris admitted they have experienced attendance problems this season, forcing him to slice drivers’ payouts.
With an average decrease of “around 75 to 100” spectators each Friday night of racing, Ferris was forced to slice the top payout to the drivers in each division in order to ensure the track finishes in the black this season.
The first cutback happened two weeks, Ferris noted, and it will continue throughout each racing evening until the end of the season.
The exception will be the Ed Rea Memorial races, which will run for two evenings (Aug. 15-16) in conjunction with the annual fall fair in Emo.
“We’re not sitting too plush right now, which is why we had to cut down on the payments,” admitted Ferris, in his second full season as track promoter.
“But we’ll jump the payouts back up for those two nights.”
Ferris attributed the track’s financial woes to a lack of cars in the super stocks division, which he said are “taking a lot of the payout.”
“We were paying out $200 for first, $165 for second, $125 and $100 so if we only have four or six cars [race] each night, they were taking a lot of the payout,” he explained.
Ferris said although the track does its share of advertising and promoting, he added it’s hard to showcase the “great program" they have there and the "beautiful facility” when few people choose to attend.
“Maybe there is just too much entertainment around here. Too many boats, cottages and baseball games to go to," reasoned Ferris. "But you look at Minnesota and they have good crowds.”
Tom Jackson, who races in the modified division, agreed the Emo Speedway is one of the best tracks in the area when compared with the ones in northern Minnesota, and said it would be a shame to lose it due to a lack of interest.
“I’m in favour of the payout cutbacks because if I didn’t race here, I wouldn’t race anywhere else," he noted. ”You have to cut the cards somewhere. The track isn’t operating to make money, we just have to look at other facets of getting more people out to enjoy the facility.
“It’s not going to die,” Jackson stressed.
Last week’s action was rained out. Racing is slated to resume this Friday at 7:30 p.m.