Motordrome Speedway is in...
Motordrome Speedway is in many ways an example for other short tracks in the way it’s managed. The racing is clean, the facilities are spotless, and the fans are taken care of. It all starts with the entrance sign and ends up with the track promoter.
We have completed our Tour visit to Ohio and are now off to our RV Campground at Bear Run in western Pennsylvania located just a few miles north of Pittsburgh. From this base camp, we will visit Motordrome Speedway, an asphalt track I’ve wanted to see for some time now, and Lernerville Speedway, a dirt track where a special event brings many dozen Dirt Late Models for a total car count of 84, including a few Modifieds.
Each track we visit on this tour has a personality, some projecting a positive view and some a negative toward their future. When we see a track that is kept up nicely, well organized, and where the track crew is just plain proud to be there, we get the idea the track is healthy and will be around for a long time to come.
When we see a ratty crew, old, peeling paint, lack of organization, and little respect for the owners and promoters from the racers, we feel a sense of loss because those tracks won’t be around for long. Both of the tracks we’ll highlight in this issue bore resemblance to the former and we’ll tell you why they have a good future ahead of them.
The Late Model track rules...
The Late Model track rules at Motordrome require that only two new tires can be purchased and used per night. This both saves money and puts another kink in the racing strategy. With this plan, a good balanced setup goes a long way in that the tires are less stressed and will be fresher for the second race.
Sharon Speedway was on our list for this time of the year, but if you’ll remember, strong storms passed across the deep and Midwest in the first half of April and that put a damper on many scheduled races across the region, including the one we were to attend at Sharon.
One night at our campground at Bear Run, winds came through topping 80 mph at around 3 a.m. I thought we were in a tornado, but upon inspection the next morning, there were no trees down or other damage. Other areas of our country weren’t so lucky.
Our schedule was very tight and so we had to move on. Here’s our report for our next two stops on the 2011 AMSOIL Great American CT Tour.
As far as asphalt tracks go in Pennsylvania, this is the survivor being one of two primary tracks in the western part of the state. Sadly, Jennerstown Speedway has shut down. Stan Laskey is the promoter here at Motordrome after running the program at Jennerstown for years. The track is located approximately 30 miles to the southeast from downtown Pittsburgh.
Tech was thorough, even for...
Tech was thorough, even for the four-cylinders. Safety doesn’t stop at the Late Model level. The more stock you run, the more you need to pay attention to the safety issues in your race car. I was very impressed with the tech officials here at Motordrome.
Leaving Motordrome, there...
Leaving Motordrome, there are several signs that offer thanks to the fans and racers. This reminds all that the track owners and promoters value their participation and recognize that the health and future of racing depends on them. It’s a nice touch.
This is a different looking...
This is a different looking Modified. Notice the large, well constructed rear bumper. It wasn’t needed as we saw no contact and there were no spins or crashes coming from contact the entire night in all of the divisions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, have you?
Stan’s approach to running a racetrack is to please the fans, provide a fair and well-policed program for the racers, and to run a clean facility. He gets an A on all counts as far as I’m concerned. This Friday night venue provides complete homestyle meals at very reasonable prices for those families where Dad comes straight from work to gather the wife and kids and then shuffle them off to the track.
Mark Cottone is a very seasoned...
Mark Cottone is a very seasoned race driver and has won three Super Late Model titles at this track including last year’s. His track championship titles stand at eight overall. In conversations with him, I came away feeling like he was running a more soft-conventional setup against many big bar and soft spring setups. We’ll see who is more consistent with the end of the year results.
This is a relatively new track having been established in 1972, run as a dirt track, and then in 1990 converted by new investors to an asphalt track. It soon combined with the many other tracks around the country to become a NASCAR weekly series track. In 1996 there were 200 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks registered. Today, it’s called the Whelen All-American Series.
Being part of this series means the teams running locally could compete on a national level for regional and national titles based on a point system that includes the number of competitors, race finishes, and the number of races started.
Upon turning into the track I noticed a very well kept permanent brick speedway sign with flagpoles flying flagmen’s race flags. This was a clue to how well kept the track would be.
Motordrome runs the NASCAR Late Models along with the asphalt IMCA-type Modifieds, stock divisions, and four-cylinders. Each provided great competition throughout the night with side-by-side racing in all divisions. The track is a banked, fast half-mile with multiple vantage points including front and rear stretch grandstands, truck/car parking around Turns 3 and 4, and plenty of race team parking in the infield.
The program ran smoothly, was over by 10 p.m., and there were no wrecks or contact-caused spinouts the entire night, throughout all of the races and divisions. There was one bumping incident in the Modified race, but that was between cousins racing each other and that is to be expected among family. One of them won the race and the other was there in Victory Lane to congratulate him.
It’s always good to see the...
It’s always good to see the youngsters participating in the racing program. This is one good looking Super Compact race car. We’re seeing more and more of these as time goes on.
This speaks volumes to me about how to police your racing. If you don’t tolerate rough driving, then it won’t happen. In every case where we’ve seen cars wrecking other cars, continual contact, and what can only be described as unsportsmanlike conduct, and the track management looks the other way, car counts are down.
This type of governance will kill your racing program because what you’ll have left are the aggressive drivers and there will be few of those. If you either remove or rehabilitate the bad drivers, your program will grow.
On the way out at the end of the evening, there is a sign that reads, “Thank you for being our guest tonight. Please come back soon.” That’s a nice touch and makes those who support this track feel wanted and appreciated. They not only come back, but often bring their friends with them.
The Lernerville Speedway was...
The Lernerville Speedway was unique in that it didn’t have walls or guard rails around the turns and back stretch and instead had sloped run-off areas. This allows the drivers to make a mistake, recover and rejoin the race without a caution or damage to the car, most of the time. I wish this design could be copied at more tracks around the country. It sure worked well here. I observed quite a few cars that over-cooked it going into Turn 1, running high and going off the top of Turn 2 only to return moments later losing just a few positions.
Inspection was quick and orderly...
Inspection was quick and orderly at Lernerville. A long line of cars moved through the tech line in short order. In dirt racing, there are few tech items and that makes it fun and less stressful. Innovation is allowed, something we can’t say for many of the sanctions in short track racing. We need only look at the success we see in dirt racing to know what others should be doing. A total of 84 cars showed up to race on this night.
The pits were filled with...
The pits were filled with Super Late Models and Modifieds. Both the MidWest All Star series and DIRTcar Pro Late Models came to race, pushing the total number of competitors way high at 84.