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Local tracks forced to make changes in order to survive

Some of this area's speedways have struggled to survive financially in the last few seasons, and they are thinking of ways to change that bleak picture as they plan for 2007.

For tracks to have the best shot at financial survival they need two things: plenty of race cars in the pits and full grandstands. Too many area tracks have had not enough of either. Some local racing observers believe that within a decade, perhaps as many as half of this area's tracks will no longer be open.

Lancaster Raceway Park promoter Jim Reid has the 47-year-old racing facility up for sale.

"I have several options available," said Reid. "Someone can buy the track outright or they can buy into a partnership with me. I am also willing to lease out the track to a party who wants to run either the stock car program or drag racing program or both."

Reid also is trying to revitalize his Modified stock car racing program. Due to a limited schedule and rainouts, the Modifieds -- Lancaster's lead class -- ran about five races all of last season. Also, the Late Model class may be eliminated.

Lancaster ran the Mini Stock Turkey Trot on Nov. 25 and while it was not a financial success it did attract 26 cars. Reid is hoping this will serve as a springboard for future growth for the event. Drag racing is set for Dec. 30.

Holland Speedway, which is holding its own financially, has been identified for decades as the home of the NASCAR Late Models. That era could soon be over. Low car counts have been the norm the last few years.

Holland promoter Tim Bennett says he is leaning toward reducing the NASCAR Late Models to a couple of special Mid-Atlanta Asphalt Racing Alliance (MAARA) races n 2007. He has added the SST Sportsman to his weekly lineup and this class will be both SST and NASCAR sanctioned. When Bennett does decide which class is going to be his main division, whether it be the Late Models or the new SST cars, that class will most likely run double feature races each week. Bennett is also negotiating with NASCAR for a Whelen Modified Tour date in 2007. Two SST Sportsman Tour specials may also be in the offering.

Freedom Raceway owner Dan Hoffmann also has had his financial woes and the track remains for sale. If no buyer is found, Hoffmann will continue to operate with a new sanction from Fastrak, a two-year old national racing group. Fastrak features crate Late Models that will be the new headlining weekly class at Freedom. The Super Stocks will be dropped.

"The Fastrak deal came together about two weeks ago and I'm excited as drivers can now run for Freedom points as well as Fastrak regional and national points," said Hoffmann. "I am dropping the Super Stocks but there was only about five guys who supported me every week in this class anyway."

Some of the racing public is skeptical of Fastrak because it is new and has not sanctioned racing in the Northeast before. Freedom may struggle to come up with a respectable field of crate Late Models when only a couple currently exist in this area.

Ransomville Speedway continues to be one of this area's more healthy tracks but even it will make changes. Ransomville will cut the DIRT Pro Stock class due to poor car counts, and it is switching its traditional annual midweek Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series race to a Friday night to be announced.

Lake Erie Speedway North East, Pa., is switching from Friday to Saturday nights, while continuing to feature the Late Models. It was attracting almost 30 cars in that class per week last season.

Lake Erie's biggest challenge will be to see if the changes will be enough to attract larger paying crowds on a consistent basis. Too many races were run last year in front of very small crowds.

The Genesee Fair Board has named Sprint Car racer Mike Lauterborn the new promotor at Genesee Speedway. General Manager Al Graham and promoter Dave McCready were relieved of their duties by the board.

Wyoming County International Speedway will feature stock car programs Sundays beginning May 20 and switch its racing program to Friday evenings starting July 6 through Labor Day Weekend. Sunday racing resumes after Labor Day Weekend until season's end. WCIS will also run what it is calling "Casual Sundays" for lower buck and entry level divisions during the summer season when the regular stock car classes are running Fridays.

All DIRT Sportsman teams must be running crate engines by 2008 in DIRT Motorsports sanctioned competition. Little Valley Speedway will showcase seven races in 2007, all headlined by the Super Late Models.


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