Cars are gathered on the wide racing surface for an autograph session. The variety of race
Setting The Standard
Location: Mansfield, Ohio
Banking: High banked
Owning a racetrack in the 21st century is not without its challenges. The competition is ruthless. Promoters seldom worry about the track down the road because the competition doesn't come from other racetracks. Today's competition comes from other forms of entertainment, which are abundant. To make a racetrack work, you have to break out of the pack. It's not an easy task, but it is formidable.
The climb has been great for Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway. However, the rewards are starting to show in a short time.
This is an aerial view of Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. This photo was taken well before
The track was a dirt track in disrepair when Dean Bolton stepped into the picture. A lifelong race enthusiast, Bolton purchased the property with the hope of creating a better racetrack. The first step was pavement and Tallmadge Paving got the surface change completed. The track opened for business in May 1999. With few paved tracks in the area, support was tough to come by in the first year. Bolton faced the loss of his track on a couple of occasions until partner Mike Dzurilla came along. At first, Dzurilla was a silent partner, listening and taking notes incognito. It was a good experience that has resulted in Mansfield Motorsports Speedway stepping up.
"We started a 1-year, a 3-year, a 5-year, and a 10-year plan," said Bolton. "We were working from the infield out. Phase one was all new fences, the walls, pit lane, the Figure 8 track, and the 1/4-mile track plus drainage issues. Actually, safety was done first. It was the first thing on our minds to make a safe racetrack."
Ohio Modified Drivers Association member Kim King signs autographs. She drives over three
At the end of a successful 2002 season, the original thought was to incorporate phase two. "Mike called me into the office and said he had news for me," Bolton said. "He said he wanted to do phase two and three. I thought that was exciting news."
Because of the fickle Ohio weather, the plans became action almost immediately. The old grandstands were taken out in October. A new 515-foot section of state-of-the-art seating was erected, which will seat 7,000 spectators. These seats include 1,000 chair-back seats. Some of the new Musco lighting system poles were replaced to make room for the grandstands. Above the seating, there are now 12 luxury boxes as well as separate spaces for race control, timing and scoring, media, and the track announcer, meaning each can do his or her job without interfering with another element.
New walls were put into place. This improvement enhances appearance and driver protection.
Behind the stands, Simonson Builders crews worked hard to move 500,000 yards of dirt to create better creature comforts and improved parking facilities.
"It seems like we've done all this stuff in bad weather," said Bolton. Despite no cooperation from Mother Nature, the expected changes were completed by the start of the 2003 season.
Of course, it's a misnomer to say the changes were "done." After all, there's a 10-year plan that's only in the beginning phases. The staff at Mansfield doesn't talk about what's coming. When it comes time to do it, it'll just get done.
On a gray winter day, the improve-ments to Mansfield Motorsports Speedway are still obviou
Competitors in the track's weekly divisions have given the facility high marks. One driver in the Modified class travels many hours each way to race. Kim King lives in the Cincinnati area and sees about 400 miles of interstate to go racing on the weekend. King finished fifth in the 2002 Ohio Modified Drivers Association point standings.
The 2003 schedule gave the speedway an opportunity to showcase the improvements on and off the racing surface. The American Speed Association (ASA) and USAR Hooters ProCup (northern division) held events at the circuit. Addi-tionally, the Main Event Racing Series held its finale at the track. "I think the Super Lates like to race here because the track is so fast," added Bolton.
Weekly divisions include Super Cup (template-bodied Late Models), Open Wheel Modifieds (under the Ohio Modified Drivers Association banner), Pure Stocks (Chevy bodies OK, but Chevy engines not permitted), and Compacts (four- and six-cylinder).
The tech inspection building gives officials a clean working environment.
This view is from the newly con-structed suites high above the grandstands. Yes, that's sn
The infield and Figure 8 track improvements were made as part of phase 1.