RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Getting One Step Closer To Speedweeks 2020 In Florida

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The count down to Speedweeks in Florida continues. In two short weeks central Florida comes alive with the sound of racing engines as the 2020 auto racing season begins.

The week plus of speed in the sunshine state will culminate on Sunday, February 16 with the running of the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway.

The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway begins with a practice day on Thursday, February 6. Racing begins on Friday, February 7 with the Modifieds making their debut on Monday, February 10. If the pre-series entry list is any indication there will be action a plenty in the Modified division.

The mighty Tour Type Modifieds will kick off the 2020 race season as well a new decade of competition on the high banks of Bronson Speedway Saturday night February 8th as track owner Ann Young presents the 5th annual Kick Off To Speedweek 50 powered by Sunoco. Since the inaugural event in 2016 the Kick Off To Speedweek 50 powered by Sunoco featuring the 600 horsepower Tour Type Modifieds rocketing around the 18 degree banking at the 3/8 of a mile speed plant have become popular with competitors and race fans alike. Saturday Ann Young announced details pertaining to the 2020 event.

Returning marketing partners for the 2020 Kick Off To Speedweek 50 include Sunoco Race Fuel, Hoosier Racing Tire South and Aces Landscaping of Islip, L.I, “I can’t thank our participating sponsors who have been with us since day one enough. Without them we wouldn’t be able to continue to build this race as we have over five years and will continue into the future” Young emphasized. The race will feature 50-laps of green flag racing with caution laps not counting. Heat races of 12 laps in distance will set the field with the top 6 to redraw during on track driver introductions prior to the Kick Off To Speedweek 50 powered by Sunoco making the race fan friendly or as Ann put it “just a fun race”.

The footings are in and the grading is about done at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. If the weather permits the erection of the new grandstands will start shortly.

The New York state based Race of Champions Series family of participants, officials and fans gathered at the Genesee River Restaurant & Reception Center in Mount Morris (NY) for a spectacular evening of awards and accolades. The conclusion of the successful 2019 season will be highlighted by the distribution of over 50 different awards to drivers and teams in seven different divisions of competition on Saturday night, January 18, 2020.

Honored as series champions were Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY, (Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series), Tom Barron of Ontario, NY (Race of Champions Super Stock), Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, NY (Race of Champions Sportsman Modified) Terry Weldy of Clarence, NY (Race of Champions Late Models), Jacob Gustafson of Webster, NY (Race of Champions Four Cylinder Dash Series), Andy Jankowiak (Race of Champions TQ Midget Series) and Chad Chevalier of Port Colborne, Ontario, CAN (Race of Champions 602 Dirt Sportsman Modified). Many others will receive special recognition, in addition to recognizing the accomplishments of all, for an entire season of passion and dedication.

Point fund contributions came from Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuel, the US Army, Colton RV, Presque Isle Downs and Casino, TDH Refrigeration and Wilbert’s U-Pull It.

Since the 2016 season, the Race of Champions has awarded over $160,000 in point fund awards to racers throughout the region to over 175 drivers and teams.

Thompson Speedway was expected to make an announcement concerning their continuation of their weekly programs with a paltry purse. It was announced that a group of competitors have gotten together and have agreed to race and will attempt to promote their efforts to sponsors which would boost the purse.

It is the job of the track owner to promote their events, not the competitors. Thompson has not had a real promoter since the days of Ben Dodge. Unlike Stafford who is out there beating the bushes to entice new sponsors to boost the payoff Thompson does nothing and has done nothing for years. They do nothing to promote their events despite being close to a major city, Worcester, Mass.

Speedway General Manager Terry Eames ran the New London-Waterford Speedbowl into the ground and is in the process of having history repeat itself at Thompson. A lot of bills at Waterford went unpaid and a lot of competitors went unpaid.

A lot of the recent improvements at Thompson were funded by the state of Connecticut and it was all geared toward the Sports Car track. Those that drive on that track pay to be there.

In the end, racing on the oval will die. A few competitors will be there to race but we all know that good purses draw cars and big fields of cars draw fans. With the proposed set-up it isn’t going to happen.

The speedway has indicated that they have the support from competitors who are willing to support the abbreviated purse and schedule. It will be interesting to see how much support they get!

Billy Harman was scheduled for triple by-pass surgery this past Monday. Hopefully all went well for him.