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Trackstar Racing | News | Behind the Scenes - Paul Butler

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Behind the Scenes - Paul Butler

Behind the Scenes: Paul Butler

 

RaceControl1

Over seeing a night of racing, with a full race control. 

 

The first of our Behind the scenes feature; a Q & A session with Trackstar Chief, Paul Butler; talking all things promoting.

 

How long have you been involved in Stock Cars and how did you get involved?

I lived across the road from Odsal Stadium in Bradford and started watching racing there back in the 1980s. My first venture into helping officiate at meetings came as a result of an appeal from Keith Barber in Stock Car Magazine in 1992, where officials were being desperately sought due to many of the time, who were doing the various jobs around the raceways, retiring and not long after I was helping lap Score at Long Eaton and Bradford.

 

What made you want to take up promoting and how did it come about?

One of those things that almost came by accident really. In 1992 BriSCA went through one of it’s phases of reinventing itself with the season ending with a celebration meeting at Long Eaton prior to what was going to be a new phase with a permanent office and full time staff etc. All of the promoters were at that meeting and one of whom was Vince Moody who ran Trackstar. A few months later Vince had fallen out(!) with his regular lap scorers and I was asked to go and help out lap scoring at Swaffham. Following that I went and helped the Trackstar team with Summer advertising during my Summer breaks at University and when I had finished my degree, i didn’t really want to pursue a financial career which the degree was aimed at and ended up working full time with Vince and Hazel. When Vince decided to retire, I was offered the chance to take on King’s Lynn and Sheffield which were the only tracks left being operated by Trackstar and as I had been running them anyway for the past few years whilst Vince wound down – as well as helping Hazel at Skegness - it was something of a no brainer. Sheffield was taken on as a 50/50 with Vince’s son Michael and despite the track doing very well things didn’t work out in the partnership, so we sold that to Steve Rees which left me with King’s Lynn. It was a track which the owner Keith Chapman had a big vision for and in the past fifteen years we have been delighted to play our part in helping Keith change the venue beyond recognition!

 

What does an average day for a promoter look like?

Probably one of the more interesting parts of this job, is that there is no average day for a promoter! No two days are ever the same! Many people seem to think it is a case of opening up on raceday and that is it then until the next meeting. There are so many diverse bodies which need dealing with – those inside the sport such as BriSCA and the ORC – outside influences such as H&S have an increasing impact on what we do and take up a lot of time. Then, on a race week there are a multitude of things which need sorting. I think for every promoter, it is a job where you are on call 24/7. Rob Speak who recently made the transition from driver to promoter will tell anyone how he underestimated the amount of work which needs to be done this side of the fence and had he realised the stress and work involved he would have thought twice!

 

What was your favourite meeting at King’s Lynn this year (so far)?

I would say the Saloon World Final. You don’t get much better than the Saloons around King’s Lynn. It was a great night with some fantastic racing, topped off with a memorable World Final and some great action as well from the Bangers where we tried something different; the combination of formulas on the night was terrific with each race delivering.

 

Favourite stand out meeting ever?

The first World Final I promoted in 2007 always sticks in the memory. It was the first time that the World Final had taken place at King’s Lynn and during the season upto the day we were being berated by many who were saying it would be a disaster. As the history books show, it was anything but and everything about the meeting was terrific including the one thing you have no control over – what happens on track – and the big races of the night – the Mini World, F1 Consolation Semi Final and World Final were all classics and it is not very often you get that!

 

You often hear people Trackstar is the “Place to race” and car numbers are consistently high, what do you think the secret is?

We are very lucky with Keith and his team who prepare the track at King’s Lynn and even when the weather is not on our side, unless we have a monsoon on the night, the track is always in great shape and that is something what drivers like. We also have a great team at King’s Lynn and I think the staff we have are amongst the most professional and welcoming in the business and this is something which is often commented on by drivers and encourages them to return as well.

 

What’s your favourite formula to watch?

I would say the 2L Saloons just pip it at the moment. I cannot remember having a bad 2L Stock Car meeting at King’s Lynn, unless we have had a complete monsoon; and, the drivers involved in the formula are all great to work with. National Bangers and F1 Stock Cars are very close behind and are both difficult to beat for entertainment value when the drivers are “on it” which is something we are lucky to see regularly at Lynn.

 

What can people expect from F1 World Final 2019?

Plans are starting to come together nicely for the World Final. We have already had Holland in contact wanting as many spaces on the night as possible with a three day shale weekend for them. Hopefully the weekend will be a great showcase for shale F1 Stock Car Racing – we will certainly be praying for the weather for the weekend! We also have a couple of different entertainment and presentation ideas and we are looking forward to our Social Media manager making sure everyone knows what will be going on!

 

Who do you think will be a favourite? 

Depends where drivers qualify and with the World being on shale next year more drivers will be looking to up their game on the loose. Based on performances this year though and should they qualify well then 84 Tom Harris, 390 Stu Smith and 515 Frankie Wainman will surely be amongst the favourites.

 

F1 World Final. Are you excited or nervous?

Don’t ever get nervous – at the end of the day although it is an important night from our perspective, it is a meeting which we will be looking to run to the same high standards as any other. I think everyone gets excited before the F1 World though don’t they!?

 

What do you think of the current era of Stock Car/ Banger racing?

I think it is as good and exciting as anything I have watched in the 1980s and 1990s. Sure formulas go up and down and rivalries on track come and go and the sport has evolved, but when I started watching you couldn’t get a better value night out than going racing and the spectacle now is every bit as colourful and exciting as it ever was.

 

Fans often comment that the “fun” needs to put back in to the racing, how could that happen?

Some do think that things are taken a bit too seriously now, which could well be the case, but teams do often have a lot of money invested in their racing. Looking at Holland, teams over there do seem to enjoy the social side of racing perhaps more than our do. We had a great party night over the Saloon World Final weekend and it may be a case of doing more things like that for people to enjoy. We are looking at doing a similar thing over the Saloon European Weekend and the F1 World Final weekend; we will certainly have some great parties, discos and bands playing!

 

If you could change one thing in the sport, what would you do?

Out of our hands and nothing we can do about it, but get the price of Diesel down – the cost of travelling is the killer for our drivers and fans at the moment!

 

If you could promote one current/past track what would it be?

Would have to be where it all began for me Bradford! An incredible venue!

 

Away from the track, what do you enjoy doing?

As I say this job is 24/7 and really does not give you much spare time! For my sins I am a Bradford City fan, but don’t get to see them very often nowadays and some of the kids play for junior football teams.

 

What’s the future of Trackstar?

Pretty much continue as we are!

 

Put it to Paul; 5 question suggestions:

Andy Gant: Who's the hardest worker you or Graham?

Easy one – me without a shadow of doubt!

 

David Ivatt: If you weren't promoting Stock Cars, what job would you want to do?

I have a BA (Hons) in Financial Services so something using that!

 

Chrissie Fox: If you had the chance to race, which formula and why?

Something like the Stoxkarts would be my level lol! It takes a special person to get out there on track and do what these guys do in Stock Car and Banger classes at King’s Lynn – not something I have the talent to do which is why I ended up doing something this side of the fence!

 

Oliver Harlock: Can you work in the middle next time it smashes it down with rain all night?

Would love to, but the staff in race control would be too upset if I left them.

 

Gordon Bailey: If you could go back in time and offer yourself some advice about Promoting, what would you say? 

Don’t do it!

 

Thanks to Paul for his time completing this. 

PB1

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img1From the pure adrenaline and Unlimited Power of the F1 Stock Cars to the destruction and crazy antics of the Bangers - you can see it all at the Norfolk Arena! With up to fifty cars in every race, action is guaranteed and here at the Norfolk Arena we encourage “full contact” where spinning and hitting other cars is all part of the racing!

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