Raceway a Winner for Michigan Lions. Bark River, Michigan, Lions had their “best year ever” in their 34 years of sponsoring offroad races in 2009. “We’re just elated with the numbers,” says Lion Roger Charbonneau, marketing director of the Bark River International Raceway. Lions were able to donate nearly $45,000 back to the community from just two racing events held during the summer. Each three-day event attracts between 5,000 to 6,000 spectators per day. He credits the jump in sales partly to the number of pro drivers who came to Bark River, a result of the racing series being combined again to bring many of the racers back to the Midwest after a two-year split. “Now we have the pro drivers back, plus more with this series. And the spectators are following them,” Charbonneau points out. “The Bark River Lions Club also made changes to the track that created excitement among racers and fans.” Lanes were widened to allow more passing, better banking was created and more jumps were added. When it comes to the raceway, “Lions don’t sit still,” he emphasizes. The 98-member Bark River Lions Club owns the 150-acre raceway and members take care of all maintenance and repairs. Drivers appreciate the constant attention to detail Lions give to the track. “These guys at Bark River do a phenomenal job,” said driver Chad Hord after winning a Pro Light Truck race in a 2009 race that aired on ESPN2. “We had an outstanding year in comparison to most other events, as well as taking into consideration the economy,” Charbonneau says. Food sales, in fact, were up 67 percent from 2008, which was also a good year for Lions, who made 54 contributions totaling $33,000. Dr. Scott Kwarciany, a past president, says, “It’s important for us to see that money go back into our community. Race fans can also see that the money they’ve spent with us supports programs and organizations locally.” Charbonneau explains, “We do everything around here. We have a 40-40-20 split with profits. We donate 40 percent back to the community; use another 40 percent for improvements and 20 percent goes for annual maintenance. A lot of different things are on the drawing board right now as far as more track changes.” Lions keep busy year round, but all the positive publicity generated from the raceway has helped boost membership, according to Charbonneau. “There’s definitely a renewed interest in our Lions club. Word is getting out there about what we do and who we are.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Raising+Funds/445823/42659/article.html.