Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan, was built in 1947 as a quarter-mile dirt track. It has undergone several changes through the years, but is now back to its dirt racing beginnings. It was purchased at auction by Steve Puvalowski in 2010, and after 18 months of renovations the track reopened on June 17, 2011. That same year, Puvalowski was named Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club’s Promoter of the Year; he went on to win the same award in 2014.
In his own words below, Puvalowski explains his philosophy and approach to promoting short track events.
The number one must-do when promoting is, what you advertise and what you say you’re going to do, you must follow through and do it.
A lot of our promoting to get drivers is word of mouth—taking care of the drivers and having a great race track to race at. I take a lot of pride in the race track. I built it myself, know it in and out, know every corner, know every bump, know every spot that’s going to create a hole, and I work to fix those problems so the whole track stays smooth. The drivers know when they come here they have a chance to win.
We do a point average lineup system, so it’s based off the IMCA sanction, so the guy who finishes toward the front of the pack, he’ll start toward the back in the feature race, so racers know when they come here they have a chance to go from 12th place to first place. Probably half of the races are won by somebody who started from 8th place on back. There’s a lot of opportunity for drivers, and they come here knowing it’ll be a great race.
To get to the fans, it’s very hands-on. You have to get out and meet people, go to different events, and just get to the local stores—the party stores and auto parts stores—and get to know different people who will hand out the race schedule to their customers. We’ll talk to different pizza places, and they’ll tape our schedule on their pizza delivery boxes.
I get a lot more out of hands-on promotion to the fans than I do with billboards or radio advertising. There’s more of a personal feel where they know me, and they tell their friends about the track.
Being involved with the Chamber of Commerce is also really big. It’s really good for networking and talking to local businesses and letting them know what you do.
The preceding was unpublished bonus material from PRI magazine’s latest Promoter’s Perspective column. For the complete article, visit our May 2015 issue online.