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bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
4/17/24 3:47 p.m.

In reply to ojannen :

Lucas Oil Raceway Park (IRP for locals) has the chops. It's "only" 14 hours. 

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/17/24 3:48 p.m.
ojannen said:

What drag strips include an active autocross site and are a days drive from central Florida?  Zmax and South Georgia are the only ones I can think of.

I would love to change the challenge format to an autocross and dirt oval spectator drag style races.  I might be the only one.  Then, we could run at Lonestar Park in TX.

Lonestar Park isn't going to let cars on the horse racing track. But Texas Motor Speedway has a drag strip, a dirt oval, a road racing track, a campground with hookups and an a major hotel right across the street. They also have a Buc-ee's down the street for lunch. What else do you need?

ojannen
ojannen HalfDork
4/17/24 4:04 p.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) :

I would have started with Buccee's.  We probably don't even need the challenge at this point.  I am pretty sure that Gainesville will have a Buccee's by the next challenge though.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/24 5:01 p.m.

In reply to ojannen :

Ocala is the next location for Buc-Ee's in the great state of Florida.  Exit 386, I think?

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/24 5:03 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:

Conspiracy theory: we are gonna have a Spring and Fall Challenge.

Still sticking with this one

dyintorace
dyintorace GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/17/24 5:09 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:

In reply to ojannen :

Ocala is the next location for Buc-Ee's in the great state of Florida.  Exit 386, I think?

I think that is right. They are actually building a new exchange just for it.

QuasiMofo (John Brown)
QuasiMofo (John Brown) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/24 5:18 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

3 hours 37 minutes for me. 

 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
4/17/24 6:10 p.m.

I think Stampie did a good job summarizing it. 
 

I'll admit... I'm part of the Southern crowd.  This year I drove 5 hours- that's the the furthest I've ever been.  Usually it's been less than 3 hours. 
 

West Coasters... I feel you. It doesn't seem exactly fair. The flip side is there are lots of automotive events on the West Coast that I don't participate in.  Oh well.

I've been participating in this event for 20 years. I've brought a dozen or more cars, and done everything I could to help create editorial content for the magazine (not always successfully).  Lots of other people have done the same (or more).  When I started in 2004 there were 74 participants.  There were no over budget cars, and the budgets included all expenses (including tires).  GRM has made many changes to increase participation, but it now seems difficult to get more than 25 budget cars at the event.

It would be really nice if there were more opportunities for people further away, but the bottom line is that it takes participation to have an event like this.  Fewer people doesn't mean it can grow over time- it may mean there is not enough money to host the event at all.

My concern with moving the event away from the SE is not whether more new people would be involved.  That would be great.  But the event also needs the regulars to come in order to survive.  If it's more than 5 hours away I won't come.  I'm just being honest.   I'm sure there are others who feel the same way.

This is a tough decision, and I really appreciate the GRM staff for all the effort they are putting into this.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
4/17/24 6:16 p.m.

Having said that, please make an effort to announce any change in venue as quickly as possible.  If the event is gonna be held in Topeka Kansas next year I won't be able to attend, and I can't justify the time, energy and money we've already started pouring into our 2025 build.

Thank you GRM. 

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/17/24 6:38 p.m.

I'm guessing Charlotte.  Close enough to test the waters without losing the majority of existing participants.

Florida is tough because it doesn't really have a large area to draw from.  Everybody is either in Florida or north of Florida.  

Charlotte at least can draw from north, west, and south.  Sure a little east, but not much.

stafford1500
stafford1500 GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/17/24 6:54 p.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr :

Charlotte is due north of Jacksonville, FLA.

The facilities at Zmax are larger than Gainesville and in better condition (except maybe the drag strips are equal being NHRA event sites). I would not be surprised if an event a Zmax is timed to be the same weekend as the big car show/swap meet they do twice a year. They have done similar driving events in the past during the AutoFair. Plenty to do nearby. An agreeable hotel is probably the toughest thing to predict.

My commute would be 20 minutes instead of 8 hours.

If this is the direction it heads I will do my best to be a very vocal ambassador to get lots of local interest/participation. If it stays in Gainesville I will still come to the event.

llysgennad
llysgennad HalfDork
4/17/24 7:11 p.m.

It won't be Topeka, it is closed and for sale. They auctioned off EVERTHING that wasn't bolted down, to the last fire extinguisher and radio and the sign out front. And some that was, like the bleachers and a couple of buildings. 

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/18/24 3:53 a.m.

You had 50 cars at the latest Challenge. The last autocross I went to about a month ago here at Lone Star Park had 167 cars. At the end of this month the Good Guys are going to have a big event at Texas Motor Speedway with a car show, a huge autocross and a swap meet. A guy I took a body shop class from is a vendor there. Thousands of people will show up for this event. Good Guys has events all over the Country including the Southeast, but even those events are in areas more populated than Gainesville. Good Guys is based right here in Roanoke, Texas, right down the street from Texas Motor Speedway where their major event is. Did I mention they also publish a monthly magazine? Summit is one of their major sponsors. They have a big warehouse store right here in Grand Prairie, Texas. I buy a lot of stuff there. On a good weekend they have more than 50 cool cars in their parking lot. 

Most of the people who attend the Challenge admit that they drive about 3 to 5 hours to get there. What you have here is a local event in a low population area covered by a National magazine. 50 cars is about what you should get from something like this. It is what it is. When you organize events, population matters.

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/18/24 4:07 a.m.

Ever hear of the 3S Challenge at the Holly LS Fest?

https://www.lsfest.com/texas/3s-challenge-ls-fest-texas/

What does that sound like? Again, this is at Texas Motor Speedway with the major hotel across the street and the Buc ees down the road. There will be a lot of cars there.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
4/18/24 8:54 a.m.

I don't think it's a matter of location. I think it's a matter of exposure. 

 

Let's use everyone's favorite arguing point, Cleetus McFarland, as a reference. He's built an entire EMPIRE out of a character he created on accident and selling t-shirts out of his college dorm room. He bought his own race track in Bradenton FL. He hosts events regularly. The last Freedom 500 sold out. People came from all over the country to attend said Freedom 500, and they didn't even get to race. Burnout Rivals? ALSO sees huge attendance, in multiple classes. 

These case studies can be extrapolated across numerous events. GRID Life. Klutch Kickers. Regular ass autocross. People gather where there's racing and fun to be had. 

Truth be told I think the move to multi-class is smart. The more people you allow in, the more people get to have fun. The more people that get to have fun, the more people that want to keep attending, right? To that end, Florida makes sense. Very few places in the country can I expect to be able to bolt slicks to a car on Xmas day and go burn down a track without ending up in the cabbage. Maybe socal, maybe texas. That E36 M3 ain't happening in Iowa. 

 

Now the problem I see- the exposure. I've been to challenge twice. I've never competed, and the truth is, my interest in automotive competition has waned recently, so...I may never. Stampie knows of a REALLY BAD IDEA I have that will most assuredly get me kicked out, but that's for another time. HOWEVER, that's ancillary to what i've noticed. For the most part, the community is extremely welcoming. I've met the Nelsons, Patrick, Dusterbd13, Steve, Stampie (obv) and countless others. All been awesome folks. It's got a pretty home grown feel. People are happy to show you what's up, let you look at their stuff, share a drink, whatever. I'm reasonably certain I didn't have a choice in having a beer with the Hongs, as an example. BUT- 

 

I've noticed a severe increase in lack of friendly. People have straight up lost their chill. I don't know what happened, who's dog got kicked or who's corn flakes got pissed it but godddamn. People are fighting over the DUMBEST E36 M3 lately. What should be an "oh right, my bad" turns into an outright screaming fit and people need a timeout on the naughty stool. It's insane. This board represents the first exposure most people have to the challenge. When a notable build of any sort gets posted and gets out into the wild (LMP360, seth's AMG van) people come here. They read that thread. They say "hey that thread is pretty neat, let's read other threads" then they read other threads. That's how I started, reading about the Nelson's Nova back in...whenever it was. I thought there was NO WAY someone build a 10(!) second nova for 2 grand. Then you start to realize what goes into it, read more, etc etc. But lately man... It's just not worth it. Everything seems to devolve into a pissing contest. It's not fun anymore. I still daydream builds, read threads, etc, but the investment in the community, and by extension- the challenge- isn't there. I actually wasn't even going to resubscribe for the first time in like 20 years but then I got a letter from Tim asking  "WHY U NO RESUB" and i'm sure it was a standard guilt trip. It worked. Why would I want to waste my time trying to be an ad-hoc ambassador for something that someone else is gonna rustle all their jimmies all over 10 seconds later because someone else said some E36 M3 they don't like? 

TO THAT END- In my humble, probably not worth the digital paper it's printed on opinion, it's not about the venue. Yes Florida has a lot of advantages. Gainesville is two hours from me. I could theoretically run my entire challenge effort from my garage at home the entire weekend. If I was a moron.  There are people MUCH closer. What it's about is the community. If people cannot learn to celebrate what it is, instead of arguing about what it isn't, fighting about the rules, arguing over petty BS that just doesn't matter both on and off the track, it's gonna berkeleyin' die. Everyone is going to have to accept that there are a lot of things coming that we may just not like. People, cars, ideas, styles, etc. You want car culture and exposure? They sell Hoonigan at the mall now. Low buck ratty cars are kiiiiiiinda big with the zoomers (at least the ones that give a E36 M3 about cars. ) Adam LZ is huge. Cleetus is HUGE. Donut Media is HUGE. There's no reason the GRM community can't siphon off some of that, without losing what the challenge is. Everyone just has to quit bickering first. 

 

Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
4/18/24 8:57 a.m.

Yall have to quit comparing the Challenge to other events. I can get 250 people to race for a no prep drag event without ever leaving my house or spending a dime over the track rental fee. Probably could do the same with an autocross.

The Challenge is "off putting" because of the budgetary constraints IMO. I'm also not going to say that it isn't promoted or promoted poorly, but it is limited in scope IMO.  LSFest is open to anything LS powered. C10 Nationals anything C10. Minitruck nationals anything minitruck. Ad nauseam. I'd love to see an effort put forth by a real race team. They do plenty of crapcan racing.... a nudge towards one of them might bring a few others along. 
 

And I'm going to say it, because I did it, find that sub 2k miata or like vehicle and just run it! I finished 18th out of 56 in '17 with a $900 miata that I put a $250 transmission in, mounted some nitto nt01's on, and put on a stupid aggressive alignment into it. Don't overthink it. I had way too fun without overdoing anything.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/18/24 9:39 a.m.
Mndsm said:

I don't think it's a matter of location. I think it's a matter of exposure. 

 

Let's use everyone's favorite arguing point, Cleetus McFarland, as a reference. He's built an entire EMPIRE out of a character he created on accident and selling t-shirts out of his college dorm room. He bought his own race track in Bradenton FL. He hosts events regularly. The last Freedom 500 sold out. People came from all over the country to attend said Freedom 500, and they didn't even get to race. Burnout Rivals? ALSO sees huge attendance, in multiple classes. 

These case studies can be extrapolated across numerous events. GRID Life. Klutch Kickers. Regular ass autocross. People gather where there's racing and fun to be had. 

Truth be told I think the move to multi-class is smart. The more people you allow in, the more people get to have fun. The more people that get to have fun, the more people that want to keep attending, right? To that end, Florida makes sense. Very few places in the country can I expect to be able to bolt slicks to a car on Xmas day and go burn down a track without ending up in the cabbage. Maybe socal, maybe texas. That E36 M3 ain't happening in Iowa. 

 

Now the problem I see- the exposure. I've been to challenge twice. I've never competed, and the truth is, my interest in automotive competition has waned recently, so...I may never. Stampie knows of a REALLY BAD IDEA I have that will most assuredly get me kicked out, but that's for another time. HOWEVER, that's ancillary to what i've noticed. For the most part, the community is extremely welcoming. I've met the Nelsons, Patrick, Dusterbd13, Steve, Stampie (obv) and countless others. All been awesome folks. It's got a pretty home grown feel. People are happy to show you what's up, let you look at their stuff, share a drink, whatever. I'm reasonably certain I didn't have a choice in having a beer with the Hongs, as an example. BUT- 

 

I've noticed a severe increase in lack of friendly. People have straight up lost their chill. I don't know what happened, who's dog got kicked or who's corn flakes got pissed it but godddamn. People are fighting over the DUMBEST E36 M3 lately. What should be an "oh right, my bad" turns into an outright screaming fit and people need a timeout on the naughty stool. It's insane. This board represents the first exposure most people have to the challenge. When a notable build of any sort gets posted and gets out into the wild (LMP360, seth's AMG van) people come here. They read that thread. They say "hey that thread is pretty neat, let's read other threads" then they read other threads. That's how I started, reading about the Nelson's Nova back in...whenever it was. I thought there was NO WAY someone build a 10(!) second nova for 2 grand. Then you start to realize what goes into it, read more, etc etc. But lately man... It's just not worth it. Everything seems to devolve into a pissing contest. It's not fun anymore. I still daydream builds, read threads, etc, but the investment in the community, and by extension- the challenge- isn't there. I actually wasn't even going to resubscribe for the first time in like 20 years but then I got a letter from Tim asking  "WHY U NO RESUB" and i'm sure it was a standard guilt trip. It worked. Why would I want to waste my time trying to be an ad-hoc ambassador for something that someone else is gonna rustle all their jimmies all over 10 seconds later because someone else said some E36 M3 they don't like? 

TO THAT END- In my humble, probably not worth the digital paper it's printed on opinion, it's not about the venue. Yes Florida has a lot of advantages. Gainesville is two hours from me. I could theoretically run my entire challenge effort from my garage at home the entire weekend. If I was a moron.  There are people MUCH closer. What it's about is the community. If people cannot learn to celebrate what it is, instead of arguing about what it isn't, fighting about the rules, arguing over petty BS that just doesn't matter both on and off the track, it's gonna berkeleyin' die. Everyone is going to have to accept that there are a lot of things coming that we may just not like. People, cars, ideas, styles, etc. You want car culture and exposure? They sell Hoonigan at the mall now. Low buck ratty cars are kiiiiiiinda big with the zoomers (at least the ones that give a E36 M3 about cars. ) Adam LZ is huge. Cleetus is HUGE. Donut Media is HUGE. There's no reason the GRM community can't siphon off some of that, without losing what the challenge is. Everyone just has to quit bickering first. 

 

I regret that I have but one thumb to give 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/18/24 9:49 a.m.

I've been resisting posting here until I have a signed contract with a date and a venue to announce, but this thread seems close enough to veering off the rails that I'll say something. 

We plan to host a $2000 Challenge Presented by Tire Rack in 2025, and we plan to do it at Gainesville Raceway one weekend earlier than this year (last weekend in March). We've been waiting on the track to give us a date for a few weeks now. Gainesville certainly has limitations, and we're exploring other venues for all of the reasons posted, but I'm 99.99% sure we'll be back in Gainesville in 2025. 

The $2000 Challenge is a once-a-year competition, which makes the value proposition for building a car vastly different than local autocross or Lemons. That's why the community is so important--it's the reason to come to the event. And, honestly, it's the primary reason we host the event, too. The $2000 Challenge, when it does turn a profit, works out to about 1% of our event income for the year. We do it because we love our community. 

I've seen a few posts asking why we aren't well-known in the general automotive space like Motortrend or like Hoonigan (the private-equity owned wheel company).

To a certain extent, this is intentional, and it's a reason we've survived so long and have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. We are intentionally not a mass-market media company, one that dumbs down its content and tries to be all things to all people, or tries to game the algorithms to get as many eyeballs as possible at all costs. We're a niche media outlet, focused on serving a small community of about five million people (all of you) as best as we possibly can. How do we find more of you? We don't carpet-bomb the scene with bland ads promoting action or drama or whatever. Instead, we hope you tell your friends about us and let the club grow organically.

So, rather than spend a five- or six-figure amount of money to get a YouTuber to join us on camera, or to buy some boring ads telling normal people we exist, we spend money to host the $2000 Challenge. It's our way of supporting our community and fostering its growth, both online and in the real world.

Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
4/18/24 9:53 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Thanks Tom and crew!

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/18/24 11:22 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

berkeley yeah!

bbbbRASS
bbbbRASS Reader
4/18/24 11:36 a.m.
llysgennad said:

It won't be Topeka, it is closed and for sale. 

I'm assuming this is about the track, but I will admit to reading this as regarding all of Topeka and found it plausible. Maybe just bleedover from years in a region trying to discourage more people from moving here and visiting, so people like to talk about being "closed."

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman UltraDork
4/18/24 11:44 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Well said. 

I'm glad you embrace what we have and aren't trying to "outgrow" the core community in the effort to chase a dollar. Its a hard thing to do in our day for small companies to avoid the consolidation and forced growth just to grow. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/18/24 12:39 p.m.

In reply to ojannen :

They already made the announcement but there are plenty. Blytheville is an interesting proposition for a no prep drag scenario. Open airstrip where they run the mile drags every year and have run the national tour a few times. SAR by San Antonio (Seguin) ran many autocrosses over the year. Any Drag Strip with a big pits or parking lot will work. 

As someone who has worked at some of these big facilities, (COTA, TMS, LVMS) They are great in theory but are very expensive to rent. Like more than they pull in from the event expensive given what I've seen. Big events like LS Fest and the such can run them but GRM is not one of those.  

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/18/24 12:48 p.m.

I've heard it's going to be in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in January as I've racing is the great equalizer. 

 

(Saw Tom's post, glad that the venue is slated to be the same for '25, if I've learned anything with regards to motorsports, changing a tire for a spec series for example, it's that people seem to *want* to have 24-36 months notice, ironic as R comps age out prior to then, even if never run). 

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/18/24 12:49 p.m.

Well said, Tom, and thank you for hosting the event. 

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