Pete Demitraszek will be thinking of two words when he opens the gates at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park for the first time tonight.
Fun and families.
Demitraszek is back at the helm of the bullring just outside of Fultonville for the second time in three seasons, and he’s determined to erase some of the bad karma that has surrounded the track.
“We want to put the fun back into it,” he said Thursday. “It’s not all about the money. Money didn’t bring in additional cars last year.”
Mike Sowle, who served as promoter last season, did everything he could from a financial standpoint to develop a bigger following from area racers, but it never happened, and it got even worse when the track switched from Sunday night racing to Fridays, which put it right up against Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
“Mike invested a lot of money and thought he was going to get a return, but it never happened,” said Demitraszek. “He definitely tried. You can’t fault him for what he did. No one wanted to help him out after he did so much for racing in the area.”
Included in Demitraszek’s plans for this season are quicker shows, and more family-oriented activities.
“We’re going to try to get the show done in three hours,” he said, “and we want to bring more kids to the races. We’re going to have a family section, with no smoking, and a Boy Scout Night. We need to attract more families.”
That will start at the front gate, where the track is offering a family four-pack, which includes two adults admissions, two children’s admissions, four hot dogs and four sodas for $30.
Glen Ridge was originally scheduled to open the first weekend in April, but with all the wet, cold weather, Demitraszek took a cautious approach and it should pay off with a great racing surface for tonight’s show, which begins at 7:30.
“We’re finally set to go,” he said.
A regular show will feature modifieds, sportsman, rookie sportsman and cruisers, and Demitraszek said he’ll also accomodate any Xcel modifieds that show up.
“There only four or five of them around here, but if they show up, they can race,” Demitraszek said. “The lower classes need a place to race, too.”
Bobby Varin will be returning to defend his modified title, but will be driving the Dover Brakes-sponsored 00 this season. The Nelson Racing No. 85, which carried Varin to the last two modified championships at the Ridge, will be driven by Willy Decker this year.
A thankless job
Albany-Saratoga track manager Lyle DeVore has about had it with stubborn clay.
After opening two weeks ago with a rutted, heavy racing surface, DeVore has spent the last two weeks (the track canceled racing last week because of cold weather) trying to get the surface back to where it should be.
“I’ve spent a gazillion hours on this thing in the last two weeks,” he said. “In some spots, I had it down to the pavement and rebuilt the track. The pavement was so wet, and the clay was so cold, I had places that were as hard as a rock, and then when the frost came out of it, it got incredible soft.
“Frost can go two ways, north and south. But with the pavement, it can only go one way.”
DeVore didn’t have the same problem at Lebanon Valley, which was in great shape for last Saturday’s opening night.
“Lebanon was as close to perfect as it could be,” he said. “What you do in the fall dictates how it plays out in he spring. We didn’t put a lot of new clay on Lebanon last fall, compared to what we put down at Malta, so we were batter prepared for a hard winter and it wasn’t as hard to set the track up.”
Don’t think all the time that DeVore has put in in the last two weeks will go to waste.
“I’ve learned a couple of things that I will apply for next year,” he sad. “I defintely don’t want to do this again.”
Around the tracks
Billy Decker, the defending Super DIRT series champion, won the first series race of the year last Saturday at Fulton Speedway. Decker, who started 11th, finished with a six-car-length win over Matt Sheppard. The next series race will be on May 20 at Canandaigua.
Both Brett Hearn (Lebanon Valley) and Stewart Friesen (Fonda) will be back at their regular tracks Saturday after running the DIRT series race last weekend.
Varin’s victory at Fonda Speedway last Saturday was his 50th at the Track of Champions, tying him with Pete Corey for fifth place on the all-time win list.
That new Troyer chassis Ken Tremont Jr., drove to victory in Lebanon Valley’s opener last weekend was powered by a Bedell big block.