RPW Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MONTGOMERY, NY – On Saturday nights at the Bethel Motor Speedway in 2020, Andy Crane will have to keep many different hats (and a helmet) nearby to cover all the duties.
In addition to some new duties as Director of Promotions and Marketing, he will continue with his announcing duties and he will be a full time racer in the Simoncini #4NY in the NASCAR Sportsman Division.
“Things just lined up perfectly for me to get back behind the wheel,” Andy said. “I’ve wanted to return to race a full season for a long time and this opportunity with the Simoncini team came up. A few text messages and a dinner meeting and we all agreed that I would be driving their car at Bethel in 2020. The team is working on their HigFab Chassis car to have it ready for the season. And they are completely okay with my other race night duties”
Bethel has a new promotional team in place for 2020 consisting of Andy, Michael Hager and Bethel General Manager George Van Arsdall Jr. Crane is very excited about the 2020 season. He brings so much enthusiasm and love for the sport to to his new duties.
“We are still putting together our whole schedule together, but we have some great events planned already. We have several reunion events scheduled including Danbury, Moc-A-Tek and Pine Brook. We are planning a 4th of July event that we feel will be spectacular,” he said. “Late season events will include the Sullivan 100 for Street Stocks and the Fall of 69.”
Crane feels that they have an excellent team in place.
“George Van Arsdall Jr. is an excellent general manager. In his role of Director of Racing Development, Michael Hager can help to bring people in through the back gate and I will be helping out to bring people through the front gate.”
Andy has also been reaching out to the racers and race teams as far as schedule and other facets of the racing program.
“We have been listening to what the racers, teams and fans to see how we can improve the racing at Bethel,” Crane said. “One of the things we are looking at are a later start and earlier finish. We are also looking to maybe cut down the practice time.”
Bethel will be in their 2nd season as a NASCAR sanctioned track in 2020.
“I felt that our first year with NASCAR was a success,” Crane said. We had some drivers high up in the national point standings. And Richard Lapolt was the 2019 Whelen All American Series New York Division 1 Rookie of the Year. He went to Charlotte for the trophy presentation and that was quite awesome for him.”
The Bethel staff is pretty proud of the racers that early in their racing careers have won features at Bethel. They include William Byron, Christian Eckes, Daniel Hemric and Joe Graf Jr.
One thing Andy would like to see in racing is a better appreciation of dirt racing towards asphalt racing and vice versa.
“That is something I would like to see improve in our forms of racing,” he said. “I’m hoping the success guys like Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell have on both surfaces can close the gap. No reason people can’t enjoy both types of racing.”
Andy brings a lot of experience in racing with the many different things he’s done in the sport. He’s done announcing at several tracks, been involved with broadcasting and podcasts, some television work along with his racing. You name it in racing, Andy has probably done it at some point. He has a vast array of experience being behind the wheel
“I started racing go karts at the age of 12,” he said.”I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many races and championships I won back then, I lost track. Started racing stock cars at Accord and OCFS when I was 15. Eventually started racing at Stafford and Thompson in Connecticut. Got into road racing in the Skip Barber Series, and the SCCA Series.”
Andy also got to race in one of racing’s biggest stages.
“We did a sports car 14 hour race at Daytona. I raced for 8 of the hours. We would have finished 3rd in our class except a simple little mechanical breakdown,” he said.
While he has remained relatively safe in the race cars through the years, it was a night of announcing that nearly cost Andy his life.
“It was a July night at Accord and one of those summertime thunderstorms came through,” Crane said. “We lost the track and Steve Pados and I were shutting down the booth. I saw a lady take cover under some metal bleachers, so I turned the system back on to tell her to move to a safer spot when I saw a flash of light.”
The next thing Andy remembered was being on the stretcher in the hospital.
“The lightning jolt knocked me back against the wall 8 to 10 feet. The doctor told me I was lucky that I had the microphone in my left hand. If it was in my right with the way the body is structured, I would have been dead.”
Although partially paralyzed on his left side for the next day and a half, Andy was quite anxious to get out of the hospital
“I wanted to get out of there to go to OCFS that day, but I didn’t make it,” he said.
Crane is an accomplished golfer and it is his profession. He recently took the position of golf coach of the Mount Saint Mary Golf Team. He also teaches a class at the JS Golf Academy in Northvale, NJ. Andy is also very much involved in the PGA HOPE program which helps veterans with their physical, emotional, mental and social well being. It’s an association that Andy is very proud of.
Race night is a family affair for the Crane family. His son, Thomas, helps his dad out in the announcer’s booth. His daughters, Layla and Charlotte, have sung the National Anthem and his wife Bre is always there to support the family.
“Thomas is going to be helping me out this season with more duties while I’m racing. Layla and Charlotte will be helping out too. And none of this is possible without the support of my wife Bre.”
If you meet Andy Crane for the first time and you like racing, you will take an instant liking towards him. He will bring such a passion and enthusiasm to whatever his 2020 duties are. It’s going to be an exciting and busy season for the Crane family this season. Hopefully, this awesome group will enjoy all of it.