From the moment that one pulls onto the main driveway leading into Ransomville Speedway, the positive changes and upgrades to the 59-year-old DIRT.car sanctioned facility are obvious.
The upgrades including the newly cindered driveway, planted trees, new concession stands, new track office, new VIP suites and a new dirt-racing surface are all very noticeable and courtesy of the Atwal family who purchased Ransomville from the Friesen family this past December.
The upgrades have been appreciated by the fans, sponsors and drivers who go there.
Over the last few years many racing veterans throughout the Western New York local auto racing footprint have correctly worried about the future of local short track racing when some area tracks were suffering various hardships prompting financial concerns.
Over the last two seasons, the local racing skies in this area have brightened considerably. Many local tracks have invested serious money and have made many capital improvements.
Lancaster National Speedway’s Gordon Reger, Freedom Motorsports Park’s Bob Reis, Stateline Speedway’s Scott and Horner families along with the Atwal clan are among the local race track owners who have made financial investments to add capital improvements to their respective tracks.
Ransomville is one of the local tracks that have been on relatively solid ground over the years and these recent and ongoing upgrades take the facility to a higher level. This past Friday, many drivers spoke of the overall changes including the new track surface that was laid down just a few weeks ago.
Scott Kerwin is a veteran 358 Modified driver who held off Erick Rudolph to score a big win Friday in Ransomville’s 30-lap feature event.. Friday’s event was just the second race night on the new surface. It is a work in progress.
“The track surface is real nice now,” said Kerwin. “It had a lot of bite tonight, not like last week when it was a one lane follow the leader type of track. Tonight you could drive on the outside, the middle, the bottom and it had a lot of bite. It was a big improvement.”
Greg Martin, Friday night’s DIRT.car Sportsman victor also likes what he sees in a big picture sort of way so far this season at Ransomville.
“The track surface is coming around well,” said Martin. “Last week it was a little dry but we had that Wednesday practice two days before. This week it had a lot of bite and really stayed moist. I think you’re going to see as it develops that this is turning into a very racy race track. Right now we’re all kind of new at Ransomville again and we all have our same rules and ideas about how this place races but with this new surface there’s a little bit different configuration I believe but I think we’re all kind of relearning it.”
During the running of the 358 Modified feature Friday, multi-time track champion Pete Bicknell got tangled up in traffic on lap eight and wound up flipping into the front stretch moat, landing upside down. He was not injured.
“I think this whole thing happened because it is Friday the 13th,” said Bicknell. “A couple of years ago on this same date I didn’t wind up on my lid that night but I did end up totaling the car. I tell you it’s Friday the 13th.”
Along with being a championship driver, Bicknell is also the promoter and co-owner of Merrittville Speedway. Over the years he has had to invest serious cash into his track and has made significant improvements to the Thorold, Ont. based dirt track. He can identify with what the Atwal management has achieved in a very short period of time at Ransomville.
“It’s nice to see that they have spent a lot of money and they’re doing a lot of work,” said Bicknell. “They have a good basis to work off of. The facility looks nice and they’re doing everything they can do.
“As far as the track goes it’s like any new surface. Every dirt is different so you’ve got to learn it and handle that learning curve. Give them a few more weeks and they’ll get it bit by bit. It’s better this week then it was last week. I think every week they’ll make improvements. Once they learn what to do with the dirt it should be real good. ”
Indy back at The Glen
A major announcement took place Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Hamburg native and Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup in conjunction with Verizon IndyCar Series officials revealed that the Verizon IndyCar Series will return to The Glen Sept. 1-4. This will be the first time that the Indy Cars have appeared at The Glen since they last ran there, 2005 through 2010.
“We’re excited to welcome IndyCar back at The Glen,” said Printup. “The fact that we could put this deal together so quickly shows how motivated each party was to make this happen for the fans and the competitors.”
The event at The Glen is replacing the recently canceled street race scheduled to be run in Boston on this same weekend. The Boston event was scrubbed due to multiple problems between the promoters and the City of Boston.