Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ALBANY, NY – The elaborate reconfiguration of the Times Union Center Arena from a comedian’s stage to a competitive car racing track took place over the course of Thursday, Feb. 8, and now is readiness for the green flag to drop Friday, Feb. 9 and Sat., Feb. 10.
The applause had barely died down from ventriloquist-comedian Jeff Dunham’s performance when four truckloads of concrete barriers were brought onto the arena floor, marking the course for the historic race meet.
A small army of Indoor Auto Racing Series race track construction specialists then swung into action, placing the cement wall sections, then topping the retainer with a steel wheel fence backed by multiple strands of thick cable.
“The place looks a little like the Allentown track to me,” said Earl Paules, Palmerton, Pa., among the top TQ Midget drivers in the Indoor Auto Racing Series for the past four years. “But it’s not really the same. I’m already wondering what kind of gear I should use.”
Car owner Lenny Boyd, Howell, N.J., like Paules an early arrival in Albany, concurred with Paules with respect to gear choice but had different thoughts about the track. “It reminds me of a smaller Atlantic City,” he shared.
Forty teams are expected for the TQ Midget portion of the three-division Indoor Auto Racing Series events. Among them are Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, Long Island, N.Y., and Scott Kreutter, Buffalo, N.Y., winners of TQ features earlier this year in Allentown, Pa. Bonsignore is locked in a close fight with Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, N.Y., for the 2018 Indoor Auto Racing Series Presented By VP Racing Fuels points championship.
The late entry of Marc Johnson of the Albany suburb of Guilderland has drawn considerable attention. Johnson is the 2016 Albany-Saratoga Dirt Modified points king. He has never raced a TQ Midget. The car he will drive is the highly regarded Ken Sebring-owned entry.
The Albany arena winter races are the first Indoor events in the state of New York since the Niagara Falls Convention Center’s last raced in 2002. Thus the revival of Indoor Auto Racing in the Empire State is a much anticipated happening.
The event schedule for the Albany Indoor Race Weekend consists of TQ Midget and Slingshot full programs on Fri., Feb. 9 and TQ Midgets, Slingshots and Champ Karts battling all out on Sat., Feb. 10.
Doors open to the public on Friday at 6:30 PM with racing starting at 7:30. On Saturday, doors swing open at 6:00 with racing taking the green at 7:00 PM.
Plenty of choice tickets for both race nights are still available. They may be purchased either from Ticketmaster outlets or directly at Times Union Center Box Office on the night of each event.