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Holland track elevates Pro Chargers to main event

The high banks of Holland Motorsports Complex will have a much different divisional look during next season’s weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at the southern Erie County asphalt oval.

Last week, Holland General Manager Tim Bennett announced that the NASCAR Pro Modifieds, Holland’s premier NASCAR weekly division since 2007, as well as the NASCAR Late Models will be switched from weekly schedules to a limited schedule in 2016. The NASCAR Pro Chargers, a support division fixture at Holland since 1972, have been anointed as the new weekly NASCAR premier division.

The sponsor of the NASCAR Pro Modifieds, Getzoni Nationwide Insurance, has also agreed to shift its support to the NASCAR Pro Chargers.

Bennett cited low car counts in the NASCAR Pro Modifieds and NASCAR Late Models as well as solid support from the NASCAR Pro Chargers as the reasons for the change. Bennett also pointed out that another big factor in his decision was that three weekly asphalt stock car programs within an hour drive of Buffalo – Holland, Lancaster and Wyoming County – all run the Sportsman/NASCAR Pro Modified type car as the lead division on Saturday nights, thus competing for car counts.

Naturally as is the case with any change, some in the local racing community have hailed the changes while others are against them.

“They will be here on a limited basis at Holland next season on a schedule to be announced soon,” said Bennett of the NASCAR Pro Modifieds and NASCAR Late Models. “We’ll see how it goes this coming year with their participation in their races at Holland. I hope to see it back to where it once was years ago.

“Times have changed and we must change with them and that sometimes means changing up divisions. The NASCAR Pro Chargers will be our premier weekly NASCAR class next season because they are the class that has supported us well for many years. I’m going to support those who support us. Plus they also have produced some of the most exciting and competitive racing at Holland over the years. This is a positive change for Holland.”

Holland’s weekly race program will now consist of twin 20-lap NASCAR Pro Charger features each week as well as single main events for the TQ Midgets, Hornets, INEX Legends, Future 4’s and Figure-8. Specials will be added throughout the season.

The change means that the top 10 Holland 2016 weekly point finishing NASCAR Pro Chargers drivers will be able to share in the season-ending $10,000 point fund. Furthermore, the 2016 Holland NASCAR Pro Charger champion will be eligible for another separate $12,000 award if that driver can win the NASCAR New York State championship.

What may be a bit of a head scratcher for the skeptics of the NASCAR Pro Modified change is that last season Holland averaged just two more NASCAR Charger cars per week than the NASCAR Pro Modifieds, according to weekly field rundown result summaries posted on the Holland website. The NASCAR Pro Modified car counts averaged 14.7 cars per event and the NASCAR Pro Chargers drew 16.2 cars per week on average. What cannot be debated is the very poor showing from the NASCAR Late Model class, which has had mostly poor car counts in recent seasons, including an average field of five cars weekly in 2015.

Bennett also pointed out that running the same lead division cars nearly weekly against Lancaster and Wyoming County was a challenge.

“The fact that we have three weekly local tracks running the same type of car at the same time and on the same night each week meant that we were fighting each other for cars,” said Bennett. “Obviously something must change and if I have to be the one to make a change then that’s what I’m willing to do.”

Bennett acknowledged that the NACAR Pro Charger feature finish purse will be less than the NASCAR Pro Modified payout has been but he says that NASCAR Pro Chargers are cheaper to build and maintain.

Bennett has also entered into a state of cooperation with new Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway President Tim Packman. Holland and Lancaster are currently planning a mini-series of a few races to be run by the Sportsman/NASCAR Pro Modified and Late Model teams at both tracks this coming season.

Change has not only struck at Holland but in Batavia, where the dirt surfaced Genesee Speedway has a new promotional team. Championship dirt track driver Jim Johnson and Freedom Motorsports Park race director Mike Fisher have entered into a three-year lease with the Genesee Fairgrounds to operate the dirt track known the last few seasons as Raceway 5.

“It’s Mike’s fault,” laughed Johnson as to how he entered into his promotional partnership at Genesee with Fisher. “I was out in the race shop last week and when I came into my kitchen Mike was sitting there and said that he was interested in running the speedway and he wanted to know if I would partner with him to operate the track.

“It was a last-minute deal. We got our proposal in to the fair board about 8 o’clock the night before the proposal deadline was at hand.”

Genesee, which races Saturday evenings, will operate as a sister track to Freedom and its Friday night program. Genesee will feature weekly competition for the RUSH Crate Late Models, Crate Sportsman, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks and Bandits.

“We believe that Genesee is a great family place for people from the Batavia area to come to and enjoy,” said Fisher. “We are promoting Genesee as their hometown race track, which it is.”

A registration/rules meeting will be scheduled for either late January of early February.

Pit stops

• A major local racing announcement was made Wednesday when the Friesen family, the owners and promoters of Ransomville Speedway for the last 42 years, revealed that they have sold the Niagara County dirt-surfaced oval to the Atwal family. The deal was completed Tuesday.

The previously scheduled 16th annual Hangover 150, set for New Year’s Day, will still take place. The new management will announce details of the upcoming season in the near future.

• Freedom Motorsport Park sophomore promoter Bob Reis has announced that the United Late Model Series (ULMS) will make its first visit there since 2009 when it showcases ULMS Super Late Model competition July 15.

• “What an incredible year,” said local drag racer Mike Janis about his second-place points finish in the NHRA Pro Mod World Championship. During the season, Janis won the event at Norwalk, Ohio, and was number one qualifier at Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J. He also set a world supercharged record for the quickest one-quarter mile dragstrip run in history hitting 5.775 seconds at 250.70 mph.

•Drag racer Doug Lynden of Fredonia has won the IHRA Super Rod World Championship. Locally, Lynden is a frequent campaigner at Lancaster and Empire Dragway.