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What you need to know for 01/24/2017

Stock car racing: 'Santa' can't keep everyone happy

Stock car racing: 'Santa' can't keep everyone happy

It’s time for the area stock car racing community to chill out a little bit. Everyone keeps getting

It’s time for the area stock car racing community to chill out a little bit.

Everyone keeps getting all riled up by little things that don’t really matter.

Case in point — Marc Johnson.

Johnson wrecked one of his cars two weeks ago at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park — on the final lap of the feature. Now, as most race fans know, Johnson is racing on a very tight budget, and losing a car can be a disaster.

So last Sunday, Johnson showed up at the Ridge with a new Troyer from Andy’s Speed Shop in Johnstown, and the car had a new sponsor — Sowle Tractor Trailer Repair.

Yes, Mike Sowle is also the promoter at Glen Ridge, but for those with short memories, he has been spending a lot of money at the local tracks in recent years, boosting purses and such, which earned him the nickname “Santa Sowle.”

So if Santa decides to help someone stay in racing, what’s the big deal?

Promoters usually do what they want, anyway, even if it means providing a top-notch driver who brings fans through the gates with a car. Remember when Albany-Saratoga owner C.J. Richards provided C.D. Coville with a house car for a season when Coville couldn’t land a fulltime ride? Coville used to joke that the car was owned by “Dewey, Cheatum and Howe.”

Sowle has bent over backwards is an attempt to make Glen Ridge more driver- and fan-friendly. He’s expanded the pits (now fans gripe about the parking lot); he’s increased the sportsman purse to more than double what other tracks pay, but his car count has barely increased; he’s offered incentives that are unheard of, like giving away a set of tires for a driver who wins three consecutive features, and handing out a barrel of fuel to a five-peater.

I liked Nick Stone’s comment after he won his fifth straight pro stock feature last weekend.

“With all of the bonuses, you are almost racing for free,” he said.

This week, Sowle will be instituting another change. He’ll move the starting time back to 7 p.m., because the setting sun nearly blinds drivers coming out of the fourth turn until it dips behind the trees.

But you can be sure there will be people who find fault with that decision, too. Looks like even Santa can make some enemies.

Improvising

Rookie Fonda Speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo can’t catch a break. First, he lost the Memorial Day weekend sprint car show, one of the biggest draws of the year, because of a rainout, and earlier this week, it was announced that the World of Outlaw Late Model Series, scheduled to make a stop of the track on June 19, has postponed that show because it couldn’t find a second Northeastern track that wanted to hold a race that week.

“We were unable to secure an event to run in conjunction with Fonda, and rather than put on a subpar showing in the region with limited late model competition to join us, we will focus on a bigger swing throughout the Northeast in 2015,” said series director Tim Christman in a release.

Rather than dwell on another lost payday, DeLorenzo opted to take matters into his own hands.

He’s keeping the June 19 race date, and will be running the “Empire State Championship 50” for modifieds, which will pay $5,000 to win. But he’s going to keep his normal $10 Saturday night admission, hoping he can draw a huge crowd.

DeLorenzo will be racing at New Egypt on June 17 and will be promoting his own show, which should help bring in a lot of outsiders.

Around the tracks

Albany-Saratoga Speedway will be hosting the Mark Hughes Memorial tonight as part of its racing card. The 26-lap sportsman feature will pay $1,000 to win. Hughes, a regular at Albany-Saratoga for years, was killed in a traffic accident in the Bronx last January.

Lebanon Valley will be holding the JC Flach Modified Memorial on Saturday, with the winner of that race walking off with $3,000.

By doubling up with wins at Fonda and Glen Ridge last weekend, Stone already has 10 victories under his belt.

The New York State Stock Car Association will be handing out safety awards Sunday at Glen Ridge.

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