Getting Started On DirtThink you'd like to start a race series?
You know, rake in those big bucks for not doing anything but gathering some automobiles to compete? Yeah, right.
Look at what you'll face: the price of gas, the cost of diesel fuel, and the economy overall. Sounds like a time when an old expression rings especially true, the one about how to make a million dollars in racing-by starting with $2 million.
But there's a man who has defied all that.
His name is Ken Killen, founder and owner of the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series in the Southeast, with stops in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. It visits tracks such as Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, East Alabama Speedway, Charlotte County Motorsports Park, East Bay Raceway Park, Ocala Speedway, and Screven Motor Speedway.
We recently posed a few questions to Killen. Here is an edited version of the interview.
The UDLMCS is billed as the South's fastest growing Dirt Late Model series. How did Kinney, a mobile home and manufactured home salesman by day, come up with the idea of starting a new sanction?
"What gave me the idea to start a Dirt Late Model series was in traveling around south Georgia and all over Florida last year promoting the new Hendry County Speedway," says Kinney. "Late model drivers everywhere said the exact same thing. What they all had in common was that they wanted and needed more opportunities to score a decent payday. They also all wanted more opportunities to win a big race and gain the prestige and exposure that comes along with winning a major event. And drivers told me this would give them an opportunity to attract new sponsors and to take care of the ones that they already have.
"From a personal standpoint, I had run a local series at the new Hendry County Speedway, which I enjoyed very much. However, I thought that by going regional that it would attract many more cars and quality drivers, which it has.
"This has been very rewarding to me. For someone who would like to do likewise, what would he suggest as the opening step?
"For anyone who would like to start a new series the opening step is very easy in my opinion," he says. "You have to travel to the different tracks in the geographic area where you would like to run your series and talk to the different drivers. Above all you have to gain the trust and respect of both the drivers and track owners and you must show both of them that you are out for the mutual benefit of both./
"Remember, without drivers you can't have a race and without owners that are willing to let you schedule events at their tracks you also can't have a race. So far I have been blessed in both areas. I have an excellent group of drivers that run my series both as series regulars and as part-time series entrants, and I also have a fantastic group of track owners that allow me to put on shows at their facilities, and you must have both to be successful.
"Some of the most difficult items in the process, from the beginning through the early stages and into the operation, are adopting a set of rules that will allow the majority of similar cars to run together and be competitive," Kinney says.
"Also, there's the scheduling of the events with the individual tracks as to not interfere with common events at nearby tracks, other similar type series and major non-racing events in the geographic area that might bring down the fan attendance.
"Another major item of importance when starting a series involves the assembling of a staff that can get along with each other, the drivers, car owners, and the track owners and their staffs. All of this is a difficult balancing act that must be accomplished in order to be successful."
Was there ever a time that he was discouraged and almost ready to shuck the whole deal? What changed his mind?
"There were many times that I was discouraged, but never was there a time when I wanted to shuck the whole idea."