More than a few years ago, the popular rock band U2 wrote a song entitled, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
While the song was not written with Freedom Motorsports Park owner/promoter Bob Reis in mind, the theme applies.
For the third time in the last four years, in a search for more cars and race fan attendance, Reis has changed to a new headlining class for his 2019 Friday night race programs at the track, located in Delevan.
Reis has sent the Outlaw Modifieds packing and named the Super Late Models as the new premier class at Freedom next season.
Freedom has been plagued by low car counts and poor spectator attendance, and Reis has been searching for a class that he thinks will improve the numbers on both fronts. He hopes that he has finally found what he has been looking for.
The Crate Late Models were the premier class at Freedom in 2016. They were replaced each of the last two seasons by the Outlaw Modifieds. Now the Super Late Models are the new class of choice.
"We thought the Modified program was going to work," Reis said. "The car counts were OK, but we had no local drivers in that class. Local drivers bring people.
"Our grandstand attendance was really hurting with the Modifieds. The racing was great but it just seemed the local fans are geared around the Late Models.
"We've done eight Super Late Model special ULMS (United Late Model Series) shows the last three years, and we haven't had a bad one yet with good car counts and filled grandstands. I just felt like it would be a better thing to try to gear everything now around Super Late Models."
Last season, Freedom averaged just 12 Outlaw Modifieds per night. The traveling ULMS presented four specials in 2018 at Freedom averaging 14, not a major difference in the pit area.
The major difference occurred however in the spectator grandstand. The Outlaw Modifieds only filled half or less of the approximately 1,000 seats while the ULMS specials produced near sell outs or sellouts.
Also some Super Late Model teams are based in the Delevan area, while the Outlaw Modified teams often came from an hour or more away.
Freedom will run a shorter nine race schedule in 2019 compared to the 17 they had scheduled last season. The Super Late Models will headline all eight regular season point races plus the post season non-points "Big Dog Saturday," special in September.
During 2019, seven of the eight regular season point races will be non-ULMS events with full Freedom championship points awarded each night.
The eighth regular season race will be a ULMS special with just Freedom weekly show-up points available plus ULMS series points on the line. The "Big Dog Saturday" will also be ULMS sanctioned.
Reis is allowing the less powerful Crate Late Models to race with the Super Late Models but he is generally discouraging the Crates from participating due to the noticeable speed difference between the two classes and the safety and competition issues that evolve.
"With the ULMS races we ran we were hesitant to let any Crates run," Reis said. "We had a couple Crates run. They weren't in the way or caused any issues but I'd like to see the Crates not come here next season because I feel we'll have enough Super Late Models.
"The Crate cars on certain nights are substantially slower then a Super Late Model, and the closing speed rates makes it almost too dangerous at times.
"Plus the Crates won't be that competitive in a Super Late Model field. They're welcome to come and try some laps but they won't be competitive."
Reis is hoping for large numbers of Super Late Models to come to Freedom. He said that he considered making the Super Late Models the headlining Freedom class a few seasons ago.
Back then, however, there were more tracks running the Super Late Model class weekly, and Reis felt that he would have infringed too much on those other track's schedules.
"I have a list of teams that I've called and right now we're up over 20," Reis said. "It's early yet though and sometimes you cant believe everything they tell you. That's a good field for our size track.
"The weekly purse I will pay the Super Late Models is not very far off what our weekly Modified purse was. It's doable. When you run the Super Late Models as a traveling ULMS special like we were doing the purse is substantially higher but the weekly Super Late Model purses like they get at Stateline Speedway and Eriez is really pretty close to what we were paying the Modifieds.
"So it will be a little larger purse for the Super Late Models but not that much of a big deal especially with less races.
"We're trimming our schedule down and making the Super Late Models our headline class and hoping to have some success that keeps the track going."
Lancaster Sale Update
On Monday Lancaster Speedway owner Gordon Reger confirmed that he has nothing new to report on the status of the sale of the track. It is still on the market. Reger said he would keep the local auto racing community updated if any concrete developments occur.
The Track@ Hillside recently announced special race dates for 2019. The CRS Truck Racing Series will visit July 13 and Aug. 17. The Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series is July 6. The Race of Champions Late Model Series appears July 20 and Sept. 7. The Must-See Sprints are July 26-27.
The Race of Champions Super Stock Series races May 25 and Aug. 10. The 20th annual George Decker Memorial Sportsman 100 is Aug. 10. The Midwest Supermodified Series visits June 22.
Regular classes at Hillside will include the SST Modifieds, Street Stock 8's, Street Stock 4's, and NYPA TQ Midget specials. The Figure-8 class has been eliminated.