FUEL PRICES & CAR COUNTS
One of the questions on my mind; as well as others I believe; is how will fuel prices affect car counts at certain events?
Two years ago (early 2020), diesel prices hovered around $2.50 a gallon. It’s my thinking that probably the majority of race rigs at the track are powered by diesel engines of some sort. But the rise in prices of gasoline pretty much follow the same patterns. Here in central Pennsylvania, diesel prices are now around $5.50, yet I do believe that Pennsylvania probably has some of the highest fuel taxes in the country, but that really has nothing to do with it. And of course, it appears as if prices are changing daily. I do read that California has even higher diesel; and gasoline; prices also.
So, what does all of this equate to? Let’s figure that on average, a racer may travel as far as 500 miles from home to attend an event, which means for him or her, it’s a 1,000 miles round trip affair. Now I can tell you that my own Renegade/conversion motorhome gets around 5-1/2 mpg, but let’s round it up to 6 for the sake of the argument which equates to around 166 gallons of diesel fuel. Multiply that by an increase of $3 and it adds $498 to my trip.
Actually though, I try to only purchase fuel at places where the prices are cheapest (read that as not in Pennsylvania). And of course, my toterhome holds 140 gallons of fuel, so I can afford to somewhat bypass the more expensive stations. However, that’s not they case for everyone. For the longest time, we used to sell the 140-gallon aluminum fuel tanks which were installed in the bed area in a great majority of racer’s pick-up trucks. One of their bigger selling features was the ability to purchase fuel at the prices you chose to do so. That part of the business slowly dried up as more and more motorhomes came into existence at the track. But its selling feature is still valid today.
Actually, the $498 is just a small portion of it, as everything has gone up in expense over the past two years. Two years ago, the average price of a gallon of milk was a little over $3. Now it’s a little over $4. Of course, I don’t buy milk so those prices are what I found on the internet, so you know they must be true 😉. You can blame it on whoever or whatever you want, but the fact is, things are still more expensive, and I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of it yet.
Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, we were still seeing almost record amounts of entries showing up at some of the bigger bracket events. Some of that could have been blamed on the fact that racers were tired of staying home maybe in some sort of quarantine. Nonetheless, the numbers were up. Last year, 2021, from my 1,000’ perspective, it appeared as if car counts at certain events dropped off slightly. Naturally, you had those races which always seem to draw a crowd. For instance, on the NHRA front, you have the Gatornationals, which is more of a destination race than anything else. With quotas set by the sanctioning body, this past year, racer entries filled up fast. Then of course you had days of rain which precluded the event, yet from what I have heard and seen in pictures, spectator attendance was probably just as high as any other year. Go figure. And that’s probably the one thing I’m glad I don’t have to do; that’s figure out the metrics as to why or how an event should work.
While my above travel scenario might hold some water, one track owner I spoke with sells permanent pit parking spaces for the year, noting that this year so far, he’s sold more parking spaces than previous. Could this mean that racers are more liable to park their car at the track and leave it there, thereby eliminating towing it back and forth which uses more fuel? Maybe?
And in reality, so far this year, I have not seen a slowdown in car counts, so maybe all of this is simply a moot point. The NHRA races have seemingly been well-attended, however, we also haven’t gotten into the meat of the season yet, so maybe we haven’t seen the “slowdown” yet. Anybody want to take bets on if it will happen or not?
End result of this blabbering? First off, it’s only money. You can’t take it with you. However, even so, making sure your basic needs and bills are paid before you spend a dime on racing is probably sound advice. Advice I think I may sometimes been guilty of not following, but you get the idea. After that though… Enjoy yourself. Maybe that might mean staying home and drinking our Artisan Coffee, but in any event, as I’ve often said, for most, drag racing is the escape we need from the horrors of what real life has become. Go for it if you can, or tell me I’m full of s**t. John D out. -John DiBartolomeo