Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Start With a Large One

The penultimate round of my 2014 WERA race season was to take place at Pittsburgh International Race Complex (PIRC), a mere 6.5 hour drive from the capital of the Confederacy. This was a new to me track about which I had received varying reports. Some riders loved it, others disliked it. Some complained the track was rough and bumpy, others said it was fine. Like most things in life I guess I would just have to experience it myself and draw my own conclusions.

Down a back road outside of an old industrial town (steel? coal?), then up an even more back road was the entrance to the track, although there was no bright signage to declare it as such, just a chain link fence and gate, which appeared to be deserted. I drove a little bit farther and found a booth with an attendant, who was more like a highwayman, as he soon relieved me of a large amount of cash.

I am always irked by a racetrack that would charge racers/participants to sleep overnight in their own rigs, sans water or electric hookups of any sort. I have paid the gate fee, the entry fees for my races and chances are very good that I will at some point drop more coin at your concession stand for ice, water, food and possibly a t-shirt. Is it really necessary to nickel and dime me to death for sleeping in a goddamn van? How is that camping? The only difference between someone who drops a trailer off and goes to a hotel (and does not pay a camping fee) and what I do is the fact that I am sleeping in the van with my stuff. So a warm body means between $20 and $35 a night? I have no problem with a charge for electric and water, makes perfect sense, but it gets my panties in a wad paying for "camping" as a racer.

For the more well off teams it's merely a drop in a very large bucket, but for the guys that budget down to the last penny on their frayed shoe strings it's a burden. I've watched the accessibility (and consequently, popularity) of road-racing plummet in the last 15 years as Joe Working Class has been pushed out by ever increasing costs. I suppose that's fine if we want road-racing to end up an elite club of rich assholes like polo or yachting, but it has always been a lot more than that, at least to me.

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