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Larry Ott: Stateline Speedway celebrating 60 years

A grand celebration that has been six decades in the making will take place Thursday in the small Chautauqua County community of Busti when Stateline Speedway recognizes its 60th birthday.

While the track has had different owners over the years, since last September the storied dirt track has been under the direction of the ownership team of the husband/wife duo of Jim and Jean Scott and their partner Brian Horner.

The popular dirt track closed at the end of June 2015 when former promoter Bill Catania Jr., encountered financial difficulties.

The Scotts and Horner signed a lease agreement in August of 2016 to operate Stateline and took ownership last Sept. 15.

Since than then new management team has been getting indoctrinated in the world of speedway management and promotion.

“We’ve learned quite a lot in our nearly first year here but we’ve got a lot more to learn,” said Jean Scott. “It’s a whole lot harder than anyone could ever imagine. When we talked to Jennifer Seamens (former Stateline manager) she said we’ll find that promoting a race track is a 24/7 job and she was not only right but it feels more like 25/8.”

Jim Scott works Monday through Saturday at the track, from morning to night. Jean is at the track Thursday through Saturday. Horner is also deeply involved.

“Sundays are our day off, that is, as much as a day off as you can have in this racing business,” laughed Jean.

While the work is hard the new team has enjoyed it so far.

“We get great support from people at Stateline including our friends, officials and people around the area,” said Jean. “We have great people so if you have a problem there’s always a friend or someone that steps in and takes over so you don’t have to panic

“I’ve learned that you can smooth people over by just being nice, staying calm, cool and collected. We need always to be diplomatic to our customers.”

The new management has made many improvements to the facility including adding clay to the dirt track surface as well as new track lighting.

“If you’ve never been to Stateline before you would not realize it but the new lights have made a real positive difference,” said Jean. “We had to modify the old light supports. As far as the new clay surface it’s been a work in progress. The man who prepares our surface, David Turner, has done a good job. We have had a few bad track surface nights this season but things are really improving in that area.

“As far as our crowds, like any promoter out there you always want bigger crowds but we’re happy with all the fans that have shown up so far this season. The biggest project also going on here right now is we are trying to finish up the installation of the all new fencing that surrounds the property line of our speedway.

“At this point I don’t have many new projects lined up but the guys do. Mostly they are just trying to finish up some projects that they’ve already started.”

Thursday’s 60th birthday show will showcase Stateline’s many weekly classes with its top-billed class, the Super Late Models, headlining in a $10,060-to-win 60 lap affair.

“It’s quite something that this track has been going for 60 years,” said Jean. “It’s been a pleasure to help insure the track’s future. We get encouragement from so many people that have thanked everyone involved with Stateline for our efforts at running the track and that encouragement has gone a long way to keeping us motivated and moving forward.”

Christmas in July

Track president Tim Packman has been instrumental this year in bringing new and different promotions to Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway. Saturday’s stock car program will feature a “Christmas in July” theme with Santa Claus himself making a trip to the Gunnville Road facility to visit with the kids and give away a bike.

Humberstone thrives

Humberstone Speedway has enjoyed great success this season. The dirt track, located on Highway 3, 17 miles west of the Peace Bridge in Port Colborne, Ont., runs weekly on Sunday evenings. Recently there were 101 cars pit side for a six-division affair on July 3. On July 10, another stellar field of 91 cars took to the track in another six division event and last Sunday there were 101 cars for a five-division show.

The track surface has also proven to be fast and smooth each week.

Two of Humberstone’s biggest races of the season will play out over the next two weeks. The Go Nuclear Late Model Tour pays a visit on Sunday, and on July 31 one of the oldest annual traditions in area racing history will take place when the track management showcases the All-Canadian Championships.

The All-Canadian Championships will feature a six-division program headed by the DIRT.car Sportsman and the RUSH Late Models. Fireworks will cap the evening.

Puglia Sr. remembered

Vic Puglia Sr., one of the most successful crew chiefs in local drag racing history died suddenly last Saturday at age 65. Puglia devoted his racing life to that of his son Vic Puglia Jr.

Together, the father/son captured drag racing glory. Puglia Jr. is a product of Lancaster’s long running and successful Junior Dragster program. Puglia Jr. started at Lancaster in 1996 at age 11 and secured seven Junior Dragster point championships at Lancaster. In 1998 he won the World Junior Dragster Championships in Norwalk, Ohio. He began to race the full-size dragsters when he turned 16 in 2001 and has won many races since and is Lancaster’s 2010 and 2014 Quick 16 season point champion. Puglia Jr., can take comfort in the fact that he made his father proud.

email: lawrence_0_14075@yahoo.com

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