|Buena Park Raceway's new 6,000 sq. ft. facility|
|When it comes to inventory we go the extra mile||Custom 155' Ogilvie King track|
|Custom Ogilvie 155' Hillclimb track||Western States Championships - 1988|
|4th Annual Buena Park 500 - 1999||National USRA Scale Nats - 2000|
|Plenty of pit space for any racing event||Index Insanity - 1999|
|Bug-O-Mania - 2000||Even our drag strip is earthquake-proof!|
Buena Park Raceway is your basic "mom & pop" raceway operation with no employees other than ourselves, Chris & Lenore Gallegos. We first opened for business in June 1992 and recently moved to our third location, all of which have been located within a 3 Ĺ mile radius in Buena Park, Ca.
Our first store, "Comics, Toys Ní Slots", featured vintage comics and toys in conjunction with a slot car racing. We knew absolutely nothing about "slot cars" at the time and, plain and simple, we didnít know what we were getting into! We couldnít keep enough cars, starter sets, controllers and bodies in stock but when it came to parts, we carried virtually none. The horror stories from our inexperience make us wince to this day!
I remember once the late Ron Granlee of Speed & Sport Distributing commented on how weíd been selling an abundance of cars so we needed to stock up on parts to service those cars. He mustíve had a good laugh after I left as my answer was "Canít they just buy a new car?" Needless to say, I walked out very depressed with a box of "ugly" parts instead of the "pretty" cars and bodies Iíd planned on selling.
What helped our business immensely when we first started was our "new to slot cars" clientele. Since no one really knew anything (about the business or the hobby/sport) we all learned together. These developing racers showed that they were totally dedicated to slot cars so we dedicated ourselves to them. We slowly earned their respect and ultimately their loyalty, and theyíve paid us back many times over during everything from slow months to slow years. While they would, of course, frequent other raceways we listened carefully to the feedback they gave us and worked extra hard to make sure they preferred to race and purchase parts from Buena Park Raceway.
At this time there were approximately 5-6 other raceways in the greater Los Angeles area. One time we approached another track owner for advice, etc., but in no uncertain words he made clear he was not up to helping, so we never bothered anyone again and continued to chart our own course.
Our lease at the original 3600 sq. ft. facility was up in our third year of business. By now, most of our revenue was generated solely from slot cars and we chose not renew our lease so we could expand. We moved Ĺ mile away to a 4800 sq. ft. facility, added a ľ mile drag strip and later a new Ogilvie King Track. We were successful at that location for 4 years and we moved into our new 6000 sq. ft. facility 6 months ago. Itís beautiful, spacious, plenty of pit area, and a brand new quarter mile drag strip. Weíre also proud to be the home of the 2000 USRA Nats!
In our eight years of business, the 5-6 raceways in the area before us have since closed. There have been at least 7-8 raceways open up after us and at one time there were 9 of us within a 5-mile radius, all gone except us. I guess now itís our turn to give some of the good business advice like what we sought from other track owners ourselves so many years ago.
We have no magic key to our success other than weíre good with our customers, carry a huge parts inventory and if we donít have it, Chris is on the phone aggressively tracking it down for them. While we donít advertise our mail order parts delivery service, we nonetheless have a lot of regular customers from out of town/state/country that we ship to on a regular basis.
Our primary sources of advertising over the years have been flyers and word of mouth. Once somebody gets their name and address on our mailing list they never get off it! In addition, we placed full-page ads in the slot car magazines to support the 2000 USRA Nats. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the Internet has become our #1 source of exposure and two-way communication through email and our web site at www.bparkraceway.com. I never fail to ask a new racer how they found us. Some say they found us by just driving by, others learned about us from friends, but most new people these days say they found us on the Ďnet.
My advice to every track owner who doesnít have a web site yet is to get one. Now. Perhaps it was the necessity of having a web site as Nats hosts that drove it home for us, but if you think you can do your best business without a web site then youíre kidding yourself. And once you have your site up and running donít forget to keep it updated! Thatís what keeps those wonderful emails from interested racers coming in.
Our regular race program consists of organized racing 5 nights a week. Naturally every summer (June, July, August) entries subside but by mid September are back in full swing again. We race NASCAR 4" and 41/2" on Mondays and Wednesday which in the peak months are our biggest classes running A, B & C divisions, and weíre adding a third scale class on Fridays.
Wing class racing includes Tuesdays-World-12, Thursdays-Boxstock, Saturday-Group 27. Every 3rd Saturday we run Cobalt-12, Gr-27 and Gr-7 with A & B Divisions in all classes. Often we have "surprise" tech inspection in the middle or end of a race, and we also impose a five-lap penalty for not using lane change cards. In addition, we host a number of So-Cal USRA races throughout the year.
Our drag program is phenomenal. An average Saturday night draws 175-200+ entries. The only drawback is they go on till 4-5 AM. We continuously change the start time earlier but still "drags" on till the early hours. In addition, we host large annual drag meets every couple of months. We have many regular Nor-Cal and out-of-state drag racers attend these meets.
Our largest race of the year is the So-Cal USRA Western States Championships, which we have been elected to host for 5 consecutive years. The other is the "Buena Park 500" which is now into the 5th Annual running as well. Both these races attract racers nationwide.
The best advice we have for other TOA track owners is also the simplest: treat your customers well and always go that extra mile for them; try to keep a good inventory and stay within your limit financially. Summer comes every year and you MUST be prepared to pay the rent, utilities, etc., even when business drops.
As I mentioned at the beginning Chris and I didnít know how to succeed in the slot car business when we started but we were up to the challenge and we were willing to work hard. Fortunately for us, and with the help of our loyal body of racers, I guess you could say we didnít know how to fail either!
Chris & Lenore Gallegos