By Matt Weaver (MOBILE, Ala.) – Coming off a historic and groundbreaking 61st annual season, the ARCA Racing Series is poised for even greater success and viability according to league president Ron Drager.
The tour official was in Mobile, Ala. on Wednesday morning to promote the third-annual ARCA Mobile 200, one of the more successful short track events on the ARCA schedule. The 2014 running will take place on March 22.
With the 2013 season coming to a close on Oct. 4, Drager was willing to discuss the high points of the season, his hopes for upcoming television packages and his intent to get the ARCA grassroot events additional exposure in the future.
Five dirt and short tracks were aired on tape delay this season — four of them on new television partner, NBC Sports Network. Frank Kimmel dominated the season for ThorSport Racing and won his 10th Series Championship.
A few quotes from an exclusive interview with Drager have been provided below. The complete interview can be viewed below that.
Popular Speed: Could we see more races on NBC Sports Network? Could we see them live?
Ron Drager: We certainly hope to continue to grow our TV presence. We’re really pleased with our long term relationship with FOX… In 2014, we will have 10 live or same day races on the FOX family of networks. And we established a relationship with NBC Sports… that’s a relationship we’re looking to extend this off-season as well.
PS: The ARCA Schedule provides an alternative and real diversity. What can the league do to get these races on TV?
RD: The biggest challenge in televised races is production cost and there’s a business side. TV Networks have to make sense when looking at their budget to televise and event. So we’ve gone to work on the backside of the event, Mark Gundrum, our VP of Marketing is looking to find funding that will support those races as well.
As exciting as we think the races at Daytona, Talladega and Kentucky are, if we can show people what we do at Salem, Berlin, Winchester — that’s compelling racing and we really want to show that the dirt tracks, that if people had access to it, would become even bigger fans.
The conversation continued off-camera and Drager was asked about the number of fall races that were moved to Fox Sports 2 after the SPEED Channel had been transitioned over to a 24-7 general sports network.
He said that the topic was a concern and that ARCA and their FOX partners needed to communicate better to avoid having their programming get moved to a network that is in just 30 million homes, compared to the 90 million penetration that Fox Sports 1 has currently.
“That’s something we’ll have to look at when scheduling our races in the future,” Drager said. “We never had to worry about football or basketball when scheduling our fall races because we were on a 24-7 motorsports network. But the landscape has changed.
“And while we’re pleased with our relationship with FOX, we need to do everything in our power to make sure that our product is in as many homes as possible, otherwise we’ll have to negotiate down and that’s something that no one wants to do.”