Promoter Bob Reis is hoping to find financial success when the United Late Model Series Super Late Models venture this Friday night to his Freedom Motorsports Park. He’s looking for the ULMS appearance to help produce on that night the kind of profitable money-making venture that eluded him a year ago when he brought the Patriot Sprint Tour to the Delevan-based dirt track.
Reis is currently in his second full season as Freedom’s owner and promoter. He is trying to complement his regular weekly racing program with an annual right-sized special promotional event that can turn a profit at his smaller facility.
Due mainly to what he termed as both a miscalculation of Western New York race car fan demographics and a questionable scheduling move, the Patriot show at Freedom last season was deemed by Reis to be a financial loser. He feels the prospects for Friday’s ULMS show is much greater.
“I am limited here by what kind of special shows I can put on at Freedom,” said Reis. “I have a small grandstand, seating 1,100 if you pack them in, and we could never turn a profit if I brought in a big national series like the Lucas Oil Late Models or the World of Outlaws Sprints or Late Models. I’d love to do it.
“But for us, the Patriots and the ULMS purses are attainable because they are much smaller purses than the big national series. In fact, the Patriots and the ULMS purses are about the same and I have a chance to make a profit on their shows.
“The year before I came to Freedom, the Patriots came to Freedom and the former promoter made out okay. I think that last year, I picked a bad date for my Patriot show. It was the weekend after Fourth of July and the Patriots had just been at several area speedways including Little Valley.
“I came to Freedom from up in Erie County. I didn’t know about the type of race cars that fans here in the southern part of Western New York and northwest Pennsylvania prefer. They don’t follow Sprint Cars from track to track, in my opinion. But what I’ve found out is that they love Super Late Models around here and that’s what the ULMS will bring us.
“So I announced last fall that I was replacing the Patriots and going to bring the Super Late Models to Freedom for a one-night show this season instead and, during the week that followed the announcement, I had over 4,000 hits on our track Facebook page inquiring about the show. That didn’t happen with the Patriots. It’s all about Super Late Model racing down here in this area.”
Friday’s program is the first appearance of Super Late Models at Freedom since 2009.
Reis says that ULMS director Chris Zuver has done a solid job of promoting the ULMS and should produce a good car count Friday at Freedom.
Friday’s ULMS card will feature a 30-lap, $2,500-to-win program with many ULMS stars expected including Max and Rob Blair, John Volpe, Dave Hess Jr., Greg Oakes, Jason Dupont, Jared Miley, Ward Schell and Brent Rhebergen, among others.
The ULMS will also be in action Thursday in the Colonel Jason Dunham Memorial at McKean County Raceway in East Smethport, Pa.
The weekly Freedom RUSH Crate Late Model division has been given Friday off so that these drivers can travel to Ransomville Speedway that same night for a RUSH Late Model Series event there.
Reis also took the time to assess his weekly stock car program as the 2016 season at Freedom hits the halfway mark. Reis labeled Freedom’s season to date as discouraging, especially in the area of car count. Reis says that 2016 Freedom car counts for a typical weekly show has been averaging in the low 50s, as compared to the 75-80 average range enjoyed in 2015.
“The cars have not been here in the numbers they were last year,” said Reis. “When I came here there were not a lot of race teams coming here that are based in the geographic area immediately surrounding Freedom. Most of our drivers were travelers from at least an hour away or more.
“Last year, Genesee Speedway in Batavia had major organizational problems. This year my race director (Mike Fisher) is also co-promoting Genesee and that has helped him but not me. Now that things are better at Genesee, many of the cars from the Batavia area that were coming here, left to go back to Genesee. I totally understand that. Why travel when you have the convenience of a track much closer to your home base?
“Also, Outlaw Speedway in Dundee has reorganized and many teams that came here from that area have gone back there although I heard a few may be coming back. McKean County expanded their schedule and have given the drivers from northern Pennsylvania a place for those guys from there to race for their special events. Again, I totally understand that these tracks need to operate. I have nothing against them. They are doing what they have to do to be successful for them.”
Reis acknowledged that the responsibility of finding the solution to his car count dilemma rest squarely on his shoulders and that, in his opinion, building a car base derived from the geographic area surrounding his Freedom track is now the priority.
“I’ve got to find a way to get more drivers involved at Freedom who might form race teams from within our own Freedom track area and to build up more of a locally based car count here,” said Reis. “I must find a way to make Freedom more stable so that we will show people that we’re here for the long run and they can have confidence that, when they invest in building race cars, they can bring them the short distance here to race with us for the long term. We need to do what is best for us now.”