Stock car racing: Sowle hopes switch to Fridays pays off
In what has become a never-ending season of change at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, the biggest change will occur tonight.
Promoter Mike Sowle officially announced last Sunday that the track will be switching its race date to Friday nights, beginning tonight. The starting time will remain at 7 p.m.
Sowle had been adament in the spring that he didn’t want to go head-to-head with Albany-Saratoga Speedway, but now, he feels it’s the right decision to make, from a business standpoint.
“There’s no money left on Sunday,” he said Thursday. “People try to race three nights in a row, and by Sunday, the money’s run out. And you also have to contend with family schedules. They either have some family thing scheduled for Sunday, or they’ve got to get up early on Monday for work.”
The change doesn’t come without a cost, however. DIRTCar dropped its sanction almost as soon as it got wind of the change.
“I don’t think I had much of a choice, but they said because I didn’t inform them first, they took away the sanction,” said Sowle. “But having the sanction really didn’t do anything for me. It certainly didn’t help me draw more cars. I don’t need to pay a sanctioning fee to draw five pro stocks.”
Sowle is also a little perturbed with DIRT for pulling the sanction because Sowle spent a lot of money with DIRT last fall to increase the purses at many of the satellite races run in association with Super DIRT Week in the Syracuse area. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter, because Sowle wants to do what he can to keep Glen Ridge alive.
The switch is also going to cost the track a couple of modified drivers, most notably Ken Tremont Jr. and Marc Johnson, who run at Albany-Saratoga on Friday nights. But Sowle hopes other drivers will return.
“Willie Decker’s going to come back, and I have three cars from Accord that want to run here,” he said. “I don’t think the car counts will go down.”
He’s hoping that another increase in his sportsman purse will entice some of the Friday night regulars at Albany-Saratoga to race at the Ridge instead. Sowle will be paying the sportsman division $1,000 to win (Albany-Saratoga pays $250 for a regular feature), and $100 to take the green flag. Because Glen Ridge also gives free pit admission to its drivers, a sportsman driver is guaranteed of a $100 pay day once he qualifies.
It was just a little over two years ago that former Glen Ridge promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker gave up going head-to-head with Albany-Saratoga and switched to Sundays. With Sowle’s financial backing, the Ridge paid $3,711 to win for its first Sunday night modified feature on June 10, 2012, and $3,000 for the next two. Car counts increased, but by July 22, the division was back down to 10 cars.
Sowle wants Glen Ridge to succeed, and he’s going to do anything he has to to achieve that goal.
“We’ll keep changing until it fits right, because it WILL fit right,” he said.
Nick Stone had been undefeated in the pro stock division at Glen Ridge, going 6-for-6. But that streak ended Sunday night, when Chuck Dumblewski was first under the checkered flag.
Stone was in a good position for win No. 7, but suffered a flat tire when he was running second.
Around the tracks
Bobby Varin nailed down a pair of victories last weekend, doubling up at Fonda and Glen Ridge. His modified win at Fonda was his first for the Spraker-Varin team, which reunited this season. Varin used a late restar to get around A.J. Romano, who has finished second in the last two modified features at Fonda.
Matt Sheppard won Tuesday night’s Dirt Jersey 60 at New Egypt Speedway. The legendary Billy Pauch had a huge lead, but broke the driveshaft on his car on lap 46, giving the lead to Sheppard.
Brett Hearn, who will be looking for his sixth consecutive win tonight at Albany-Saratoga, finished fourth at New Egypt.
Eddie Marshall ended a two-year drought by winning last Saturday’s modified feature at Lebanon Valley. Marshall’s last win came on June 16, 2012. The victory Saturday was the 28th of his career, leaving him one shy of tying Dave Leckonby for 10th place on the all-time modified win list at the Valley.
Among the winners at Glen Ridge last Sunday was Kyle Fallis, son of former sportsman competitor Drew Fallis. The father-and-son team has switched to the XCell 600 modifieds this season.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway will be running the second leg of the Featherfoot Warrior sportsman series tonight. The winner will take home $1,000.
Here’s to a speedy recovery for Fonda Speedway photographer Bill McGaffin, who was injured in a freak accident last weekend. McGaffin suffered some broken ribs and cuts and bruises after getting hit by a sportsman car that got out of control, came into the infield and slid across the checkerboard square before striking McGaffin.