Veteran motorsports promoter and Race of Champions operator Joe Skotnicki this weekend was announced as the new stock car program consultant at New York International Raceway Park in Lancaster, and he released a six-race oval track schedule for the track formerly known as Lancaster Speedway.
Skotnicki, of Elma, has served in many capacities for various tracks and organizations over his career, and he will work with new NYIRP owners Mike Swinarski and Vito Antonicell, who purchased the dual stock car/drag racing asphalt facility last month. Motorsports competition has been conducted almost continuously at the track since 1959.
The owners, who are veteran drag racing competitors, revealed the drag racing schedule and held a meeting with the track's drag racing competitors on April 30. The stock car program was put on hold until they could find someone with stock car promoting expertise. That is Skotnicki.
"We just want to ... assure [everyone] that the new track owners are sincere about running stock car racing and let people know more about what their plans are," Skotnicki said. "They were very diligent and spoke to a lot of different people and I was not the only one in the running for this opportunity. I'm just thankful that they're giving me the opportunity to help at a place that not only means a great deal to me, but to everybody that races there."
Much work must be done in a very short period of time. The first on-track action for the stock cars will be a practice session on June 8. The opening race event will be held June 27 featuring the ROC Asphalt Modified Series Ol' Boy Cup 60 along with the Street Stocks, Four Cylinders and NYPA TQ Midgets. The season will end the weekend of Sept. 13-15 with the Race of Champions.
In local racing, many tracks once ran weekly programs throughout the season. While some still do, due to expense and other factors, tracks like NYIRP have gone to a limited or special event schedule.
"I had talked to Vito a couple of times on the phone," Skotnicki said. "Weekly racing has changed a great deal. Everybody says that it's entertainment. It's everything. It's family values, it's part of the entertainment industry, it's scheduling. The other part of it really is that 30 years ago, when race tracks ran weekly, you could run a weekly race where there wasn't too much special to it. You could have a rare special promotion on a certain event night but there wasn't an atmosphere that it was super special.
"In today's society, because how we entertain ourselves has changed so much, you have to create every event and market and promote every event now as a huge special. So you can't do that every week. You might like to think that you could do it every week, but you can't. It could also hurt you financially."
"It all boils down to a less is more mentality," Skotnicki added. "I think you'll see a lot more of that from all local tracks. Right now, you can probably still get away with some weekly racing on the dirt track side because there's not the tire expense and other general expenses."
The core divisions from the last few seasons, the Sportsman, Street Stocks and Four Cylinders have been retained along with many of the track's traditional races.
"There are tried and true events that people are excited about and want to be at and at a race track that everybody wants to be at," Skotnicki said.
New York International Raceway Park Stock Car schedule for 2019
Thursday, June 27 – 5th annual Ol’ Boy Cup 60 – Race of Champions Modified Series; Lancaster Street Stocks; Four Cylinders; NYPA TQ Midgets
Thursday, July 11 – 4th annual Joe Reilly Summer Slam ‘54’ – Race of Champions Sportsman Modified Series; Lancaster Street Stocks; Four Cylinders; NYPA TQ Midgets
Saturday, July 20 – “Autograph Night” – Race of Champions Late Model Series; Race of Champions Sportsman Modified Series, Lancaster Street Stocks; Four Cylinders; NYPA TQ Midgets
Saturday, August 17 – 30th annual Tribute to Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak ‘110’ – Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series; Race of Champions Super Stock; Lancaster Street Stocks, NYPA TQ Midgets
Saturday, August 24 – 3rd annual Ken Heckler ‘51’ – Lancaster Street Stocks; Race of Champions Sportsman Modifieds; Four Cylinders; NYPA TQ Midgets
Friday, September 13 – 31st annual U.S. Open – Practice – All Divisions
Saturday, September 14 – Race of Champions Sportsman Modified Series; Race of Champions Super Stock Series; Race of Champions Four Cylinders Dash Series; Race of Champions TQ Midgets
Sunday, September 15 – Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series; Race of Champions Late Model Series; Lancaster Street Stocks