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.

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.

Motordrome Speedway

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lernerville Speedway

This dirt track, located in Sarver, Pennsylvania, was opened in 1967, somewhat earlier than planned, due to an ordinance change that was scheduled to begin in 1968 that would have prevented the construction of the track. Don Martin joined three other investors to build this track and would eventually become sole owner for many years. In 2005, the track was sold to World Racing Group (owners of the World of Outlaws and DirtCar sanctions).

The size of the track has changed over the years from the initial ¼-mile, to 3⁄8-, and now to nearly a full half-mile. Other parts of the facility have undergone growth changes as well and the seating is now nearly 12,000, quite large for a short track.

Rain was a factor throughout the first half of our 2011 Tour and this track got a soaking in the days leading up to the race. I visited the front office upon arrival to witness one of the office ladies answering every call that came in to assure the callers there would be a race this night.

The reason that is significant is because I have seen tracks where when you call, you always get a recorded message and never talk to anyone. It’s very impersonal and if I were trying to decide whether to risk the trip to the track to gamble on if it was really going to run, I’d probably decide to stay home.

When the racers and fans get to speak with a person, they most always come. If the entry fee were $15, every call answered is like taking in that amount of money. The lady insisted that every call be answered. That is good business.

The track is a larger 3⁄8-mile in appearance and has no outer wall or guard rails. The only wall is along the front stretch, and over the course of the evening’s racing, many cars were saved from destruction by this design.

This is exactly what I suggested for West Virginia Motor Speedway in its redesign. It’s not only cheaper to construct, but very helpful for the racers. There is a runoff area past the top of the banking where a car can drive back onto the track to continue racing. This reduces the number of cautions and saves lots of equipment allowing the teams to exist in a tough economy.

This weekend the MidWest All Star Series (43 cars) was sanctioning the races and the feature was a $5,000-to-win event. Also running were the DIRTcar Pro Late Models (26 cars) and the UMP Modifieds (13 cars). And they were to compete on a very wet track that eventually dried enough to race on, only to see it rut up with very large holes making it hard on the suspensions.

The later races were more of an endurance test as the track became rougher. Modifieds were launching off the holes with all four tires showing daylight under them at times. The smart drivers memorized the locations of the holes and avoided them at all cost. The others either fell behind or broke and went to the pits.

Dirt racing is just this, adapting to the conditions and making the best of it. The drivers who can are the ones we see in Victory Lane. Acute observers of dirt racing know this and it becomes part of the attraction we have for this type of competition. After all, anyone can run on a smooth, flat racing surface.

Conclusion

If our visit to these tracks tells us anything, it’s that a clean, well run facility attracts both fans and racers. And, if you enforce no-contact rules, there will be little or no contact. That, in and of itself, breeds respect among the racers.

I want to congratulate these tracks for their efforts at paying attention to the needs of the fans and racers so that there will be a good chance for success for the owners and a continuation of racing.

It’s our hope that promoters and track owners read our comments, take them to heart, and apply the methods used by other successful tracks into their programs. Together we can improve the numbers of short track racers and help our racetracks survive.

SOURCE
CV Products, Inc.
42 High Tech Blvd
Thomasville
NC  27360
800-448-1223
www.cvproducts.com
Holley Performance Products
1801 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green
KY  42101
270-782-2900
http://www.holley.com
AMSOIL
925 Tower Ave.
Superior
WI  54880
800-777-8491
http://www.amsoil.com
  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article