Glen Ridge Motorsports Park track manager Mike Sowle isn’t trying to pull a Don Corleone by giving his sportsman drivers an offer they can’t refuse.
He’s giving them an offer they’d be nuts to turn down.
Wanting to bolster his car count and also because he’s always been an advocate of grassroots racing, Sowle will be increasing his purse for the sportsman division, beginning this week. He’s going to pay $1,000 to win, which is three times (and four, in some cases) more than most tracks pay. In addition, he’s going to institute a B main, which will pay $250 to win and $50 to take the green flag. The winner of the B main will have an option to take the $250 or transfer into the A main.
Sowle is targeting the sportsman because he knows there’s a ton of the them in the area, and thus, have a larger fan base.
“I want to get my car count up, but I also want to give everyone the chance to race and make some money,” said Sowle Thursday, “By setting up a B main, everyone who races will go home with some money. I go to Malta [Albany-Saratoga Speedway] and see 40 or more cars, but I also see 15 go home with nothing.”
Sowle is doing everything he can to get cars in the pits, including letting drivers in all divisions get in for free. He’s also instituted a bonus program where drivers who win three features get a set of tires (Nick Stone collected that one last Sunday) and five victories are worth a barrel of fuel. Last Sunday, Sowle had 18 modifieds (which is actually up a little), but only 14 sportsman.
“Where are you guys?” Sowle asked rhetorically. “Maybe some of them got wrecked Saturday at Fonda and couldn’t make it. Maybe paying $1,000 to win and adding a B main will get them here.”
Sowle is also adding the Xcel 600 modifieds on a weekly basis, and will be running vintage cars on the first and third Sundays of each month.
His most recent additions include new caution lights and a new public address system.
Sowle and his staff have also eliminated the “crashfest” racing that had been the trademark in recent years, and are running a quick, efficient show.
But this isn’t “Field of Dreams.” An increased purse may not even be enough to get more sportsman drivers to come.
Fans at Fonda Speedway walked out of the track shaking their heads last Saturday after the performance by defending modified track champion Stewart Friesen.
Friesen drove to his second win of the season, even though the left rear suspension was broken and his right rear tire was going flat.
Friesen’s suspension collapsed on lap 18, just after he had taken the lead. A caution with three laps to go allowed the field to bunch up behind Friesen, but somehow, he got his Teo Car to victory lane.
“It looks like it may have spit out a torsion arm or tube, which ripped the belly pan out of it, but I had a good line through all the bumps,” said Friesen after the win.
Memorial Day weekend always means sprint cars, and this weekend is no exception.
Tonight, the Empire Super Sprints will be on the card at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The ESS cars first appeared at the historic Malta track in 1985, with Gordy Button taking the victory.
On Saturday, the ESS Sprints will tow up to Fonda Speedway to help the Track of Champions celebrate Lou Lazzaro Night. The modifieds will be running a 44-lap feature, with the winner getting $4,444.44. Anyone wearing a Lou Lazzaro hat or T-shirt will receive $4 off a general admission ticket.
At Lebanon Valley, the modifieds will be running for $3,000 to win in the Maynard Forrette Memorial race. and on Sunday at Glen Ridge, the modified winner will receive $2,711.
Around the tracks
Kim LaVoy, the queen of Lebanon Valley, snapped a two-year drought with a victory in the small-block modified race last Saturday. That was her 10th career win on the high banks.
Fans looking for weekend highlights can now go to YouTube. Bob James of Bobco Video is downloading highlights from Albany-Saratoga, Fonda, Lebanon Valley, Glen Ridge, New Egpyt and Orange County at YouTube/RacePro Weekly.
Matt Sheppard won Tuesday night’s “Lightning on the Mountain” at Thunder Mountain Speedway. The 50-lapper drew a huge field of 73 cars. Among the drivers who didn’t qualify was Brett Hearn, who got caught up in a wreck in his heat race, loaded up and went home.