Spit Shining the Silver Dollar: Interview with Track Promoter Dennis Gage

Photo taken at Sunset Speedway, OR

Photo taken at Sunset Speedway, OR

The job of a track promoter is not often seen as a glamorous position. It takes long hours, patience, and the ability to work with an array of people. Dennis Gage, promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California shares some insight as to what his profession entails.

Like any occupation, there is a natural ladder to climb. Its about gaining experience and learning about the inner workings of the racing system. Gage swam upstream going from “racer to track official, to announcer to PR person.” He then took a general manager job for the Roseville Fairgrounds before taking over at Silver Dollar Speedway and Marysville Raceway Park. Second generation race fan, Gage grew up around motorsports. “You have to have a deep interest in the sport and want to preserve it to get past the long hours and hard work” he says. Being a track promoter is not and easy job by any means. The promoter is in charge of track maintenance, running the facility year round, booking races and events, and making tough decisions regarding everything to do with the track. “You have to be forceful in a world of people with emotions and reactions driven by competition.” he explains. Its all about being the jack of all trades. In the off season, the work isn't over. “We set the schedule, plan everything from the menus to the advertising, meet with the sanctioning groups, attend trade conferences, and repair equipment, facilities, etc. for the year. It takes all your time to run the operations during the season, so all the planning must be done.” With race tracks scattered across the country, every location is fighting for car count and fan attendance almost every race night.

Nationwide, auto racing is not as popular as it used to be. Especially with people stretching their dollar as far as it can go nowadays. Its important to do anything possible to keep people coming back. Reputation plays a big role in this. If the experience fans and drivers have is good, they'll keep coming back for more races. For the fans it is food, facility, and convenience. For drivers “good reputations are based on track conditions, support facilities and fair treatment” notes Gage. Silver Dollar Speedway is no exception even though its an established speedway in the area. “Longevity has a lot to do with it. (Chico) has been in operation for many years.” Besides competing for attendance, track promoters have to fight the weather and political racing issues. His best tip to those that aspire to be part of this aspect of racing: “Give an honest effort and you will succeed.”