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Alex Friesen, the late Ransomville Speedway promoter, first talked about creating the Ransomville Speedway Summer Nationals in 1985.

The principle was to pay big bucks for a short race, and though Friesen died last winter that's the spirit that his brothers, Jamie and Joel, carry on with a revamped Alex Friesen Summer Nationals that runs Tuesday evening.

What has changed is the format. The Summer Nationals had evolved into a DIRT big-block Modified SKOAL Super DIRT Series event.

"We took our two biggest shows from the past, the big block Modified Summer Nationals and our DIRT 358 Modified August Syracuse qualifier, and combined them into a new event," Joel Friesen said.

"These shows got a bit thin under the old format. The days of the big blocks here are long gone. Now we reserve our premier event, the Summer Nationals, for our premier weekly class, the 358 cars."

This year, the race will be known as a Prolong 358 Modified Syracuse Championship/SKOAL Racing Super DIRT 358 Modified/Part Plus Qualifier.

Another twist to this year's format is the mystery surrounding the first-place payoff for the 97-lap event. Second place will pay $10,000 but first will be determined by how many "Big Buck VIP" tickets are sold. The first-place payoff will be announced just before the green flag.

"We'll just line up the cars, announce how much first place pays, and then say 'Gentlemen, start your engines,' " said Friesen.

The $100 Big Buck VIP ticket buys admission to the Summer Nationals, VIP access to the pits, a prerace party, a private autograph session with the drivers, discount tickets to other speedways, a gift bag, a chance at $1,000 and a seat on the Summer Nationals Steering Committee with a voice in helping to plan future Summer Nationals.

"The whole thing started a few years ago," said Friesen. "One day a fan asked me how come local tracks don't have a VIP area where a guy can show up five minutes before race time and have a reserved seat and parking spot. I said 'Yeah, why not?' "

"Also, this past winter we wanted a way to honor Alex and to put some momentum back into the Summer Nationals. I went to Jamie and sat down with some ideas we had, and here we are. I couldn't find a sponsor who would put down $30,000 to sponsor a race, so we formed the big-buck idea. We have 300 tickets available, so that's a potential for 300 sponsors. But you also have a voice in how the race will be run in the future. That's an investment."

(For more information on the VIP tickets, call 694-3677.)

DIRT stars Jimmy Horton, Brett Hearn, Frank Cozze, Mitch Gibbs, Dale Planck and Doug Hoffman are expected to challenge Ransomville regulars like Danny and Alan Johnson and Pete Bicknell.

The DIRT Sportsman cars will also race in a 30-lap event. Race time is 7:15 p.m.

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