A lot rode on the success in bringing back the Iron Man Challenge to Nevada this year, and although the result wasn’t perfect, the competition is here to stay.
Promoter and sponsor Steve Evenson, one of the coordinators of the event through all 10 days of racing, said he thought the competition as a whole went very well.
“Overall, the show was a great success,” Evenson said. “Next year we’ve got a lot of people, a lot of ideas and we’re going to have to make some things come around a little better, but I’m excited for that opportunity.”
The crowd from the Fourth of July weekend in Fallon, as well as along all the stops, was much better than expected according to Evenson given the concern that some of the tracks wouldn’t have any fans due to the history of Iron Man.
Namely, the former competition didn’t need a high fan turnout because the tracks used to pay promoters on a per-car count basis and, naturally ,were losing money. “The racing all 10 nights was fantastic,” Evenson said. “The heat races, the main events, the top-ten racers every night were off the hook. I don’t have any other way to say it. They were flat-out off the hook. If you watched it on the IMCA TV or watched it in person it was fantastic and it couldn’t have turned out any better in my opinion.”
Since the competition changed hands to Evenson and the Lahontan Auto Racing Association this year, the concensus was that of an overall triumph despite less of a turnout of racers than hope for in the final nights at Fallon.
“Various things happened that kept some guys from competing on the full tour like they wanted to,” Evenson said. “At each stop along the way that snowballed and as a result we had a lower car-count than I would’ve liked at the Fourth of July show.”
Jerry Roseland, one of the track officials for Iron Man and representative from LARA, like Evenson, compared this year’s challenge to the ones he had known more than three years ago.
“I watched when the series first came out and it was semi-weak until it got really strong, but at the end there were problems with internal organization and it tapered off,” Roseland said. “We had some growing pains of our own but for the most part everybody got along and was devoted to a good show.”
Though the stands were packed with fans and more than 40 Hobby Stock drivers turned out, Roseland said there was a lack in the turnout of the IMCA Modifieds that could be improved upon by next year.
“We didn’t get the large car count to start out,” Roseland said, hoping for 35-40 cars and ending up with the 25-30 minimum. “The first night in Fallon we were down to 18 and the second night we were down to about eight or nine. For a lot of the cars it was just too much to handle. I think a lot of the drivers just weren’t prepared to have their cars beat in 10 straight days of hard racing.”
Fallon’s high turnout of racing fans at Rattlesnake Raceway was due in part, Roseland said, to the July 4 fireworks show which was one of the reasons he, along with Evenson and LARA promoter Chris Lumsden, chose to end the competition here. Though it’s unclear if the competition can have the same good fortune next year on Independence Day, Roseland said he was confident at least half of the competitors will be back.
“A lot of lessons were learned by drivers in terms of what to expect from a lot of the problems had by the cars and how to prepare better for next year so they can be ready for all 10 races,” Roseland said. “Drivers also talk to other drivers when they go back to their home tracks in Arizona, New Mexico, the whole bit. I’m from the Phoenix area so I go down there quite a bit to those parts, so I start hauling down the advertising there quite a bit, early.”
Both Roseland and Evenson agreed one of the priorities for next year’s race will be a boost in advertising.
“LARA has definitely learned, between Octane Fest and Iron Man, about a lot of areas we’ve missed which were absolutely simple to advertise in,” Roseland said.
The other factor in planning next year’s show will be Fallon’s promoters taking back control of the events. This year it was up to the individual tracks to run the shows while Evenson, Roseland and Lumsden oversaw the competition and focused on enforcing IMCA rules and regulations. Roseland said taking more control, rather than leaving it in the hands of the locals, will promote more consistency, something Evenson also said he is hoping to improve.
“I think some of the competitors wanted a consistent flag-man and/or a consistent tech person,” Evenson said since, though Roseland was the flag-man at the Fallon show, he could only make it to two other tracks. “Those are things we’re going to approach with the tracks individually. We may ask for a representative from the IMCA National to come out and sit on the sidelines so we’ll see. We’re going to make sure it’s fun and light and do those things.”
From the internal side, Evenson said there also needed to be more consistency in tech and rules along with a recurring flag-man, and compared the different representatives at each track to having a different umpire in baseball every day.
“That’s part of the learning curve of us trying to put it on ourselves rather than the way it was ran before,” he said. “So we’re going to figure it out. We’re in good shape, and I’m excited.”