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 Columns & Editorials

July 9, 2004


By Jack Smith

NASCAR racerMike Skinner is apparently now a partner in the five year old FASTRUCK racing series, according to a press release issued from his office on Thursday. Skinner has been active in the series throughout this year, and his son Dustin is eleventh in the overall FASTRUCK championship points standings.

"I am real excited about being a part of this exciting series, Bobby Diehl and myself are in the process of forming a partnership that gives our competitors what they need to move their careers to the next level or those who just enjoy racing as a hobby", Skinner said. Skinner went onto say he expects to take the series "to the next level" over a two to three year time frame. Although it is unclear what he means, he did say that "...we hope to have a series sponsor, more television, some higher paying purses and a better point fund for 2005."

According to FASTRUCK creator and promoter Bobby Diehl, the series is also following NASCAR's lead in involving more minorities in racing, especially blacks, Latinos and women. Diehl's overall vision is to grow the sport into a feeder series for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The new partners are also talking about creating a driving school.

FASTRUCK has experienced several years of solid growth and that growth has not been painless. Much controversy has surrounded the series this year, some of it involving Mike Skinner's role and some of it the fact that his son races in the series. A near riot ensued on the KARNAC.com Florida Stock Car Racing message board earlier in the year over an article which appeared on Skinner's web site. The ugly "f" word, (favoritism), surfaced in relation to the Skinner family and still has not completely settled down.

The FASTRUCK series also has a youth division, FASTKIDS, for racers age 12-17. Mark Martin's son Matt is a star in this little mini series and Mark Martin has made several appearances which has boosted the fan base and offset much of the negatives.

The recent announcement is no surprise to veteran watchers of the Florida racing scene, as Skinner has been highly visible and has been acting as a FASTRUCK official for much of the year. Now that the public announcement has been made, perhaps some of the naysayers will quiet down, but probably not, at least as long as the son of a high profile NASCAR racer is one of the series' racers.

Diehl, one of the most vocal promoters in recent years on the Florida scene, is seemingly able to cope with whatever comes his way, and is always looking for new avenues to expand the scope of the series. When the FASTRUCK series comes to town, it brings more racers than most any series in the state and over the last five years has created far more television coverage than any of the other Florida traveling shows. Another positive behind the success of the series is the endless enthusiasm of the Tampa Bay area teacher by trade, race promoter by choice. While most series promoters do no advance promotion, leavng it all up to the tracks,Diehl puts a great deal of emphasis on promoting the arrival of his traveling shows in the towns where the trucks race, and has done more than any other traveling series promoter to try and do his part to put fans in the seats.

On balance the addition of Skinner as a member of the FASTRUCK inner circle will probably be a good thing for the series and for Florida racing. But it will continue to be a uphill battle to maintain a successful series and achieve the goals the new partnership envisions.

Racing series are coming under increasing fire from certain quarters and at least one track owner has made no bones about reducing the role traveling shows play in the Florida landscape.

With some increased focus on media and using it to get the series stars more widely known, as well as strengthen the FASTRUCK fan base, the new partners may just make believers out of some of the critics.

The FASTRUCKS can be seen July 24th at Charlotte County Speedway and at USA International Speedway on August 7th. In addition the newest wrinkle in the FASTRUCK series, the Sportsman division, can be seen in their inaugural race at Auburndale Speedway on July 17th.

Let us know what you think about the series and any comments you may have on the new partnership, send an e-mail to KARNAC.com.

Have an opinion on this story? Post a message on our Message Board!
or send a letter to the editor!



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