Weekly Stock Car Racing Could Be Gone From Thompson International Speedway In 2013

THOMPSON – The grounds of Thompson International Speedway this weekend are a virtual celebration of short track stock car racing with 337 cars on site to compete in 16 separate feature events at the track over Saturday and Sunday of the World Series Speedway Racing card.

The question is, will it be a familiar scene at this point next year at the track.

That’s a question track owner Donald Hoenig wasn’t ready to give a definitive answer to on Saturday.

Rumors have persisted over the last few months that Thompson Speedway management is looking at a possible overhaul, or even elimination, of their weekly racing series program.

Multiple weekly divisions at the track this year have struggled with car counts, including the track’s premier Whelen All-American Series SK Modified division. Thompson runs its weekly events on Thursday evenings from early May to mid-September.

On Saturday Hoenig said he’s not sure what will happen next year with weekly racing at the track.

Asked if the weekly racing series at the track could be eliminated for the 2013 season Hoenig said: “I don’t have a clue what we’re going to do come another year.

“We had a very difficult year like everybody else in racing. In my own head I’ve kicked around and talked to a lot of people, honestly, we established Thursday night, but with the economy the last couple years it’s been very difficult.

“… Gas prices, economy, the cost of living, people just don’t have the money. That’s the issue like on Thursday. Should we change it? Maybe. Are we going to do it? I’m not sure. You don’t know if you change if it’s going to get any better or not. And if you change what do you do to keep going weekly? Perhaps it’s Sunday. Sunday afternoons or nights in the summer? That would be one thing? Are we going to continue to run every single week? I don’t know. And can guys afford to keep running? I can afford to keep running the speedway, but drivers and car owners and everybody else, I think there’s just too much racing happening.”

Hoenig said there’s a possibility that the track could go to a minimal schedule of big events only for stock car racing. The other big factor involved in the decision making process is the possibility of a road course being built at the track. Speedway management has been studying the possibility of adding the road course for much of this season.

“When the season’s over with we’ll see how feasible it is to give it consideration of doing it,” Hoenig said. “There hasn’t been any decision made to do anything as of now. It’s been a complete study.

“We haven’t committed to anything. We did a whole complete study and we’ll sit down and look thoroughly through every aspect of it. It requires a lot of investment in doing it and there’s a lot of issues. Will it work? I don’t know.”

Sources have said that management has already set dates for certain sports car events for next season. Hoenig said not to read into that.

“We’ve talked about things, they’ve all been here,” Hoenig said. “Until the money is in the palm of your hand you don’t have anything.”

Thompson has had three incarnations of road courses through its history. Road course racing was last run at the track in the late 1970’s.

“I did club racing, I did rentals and I did professional racing,” Hoenig said of road course attempts in the past. “… The reason I stopped it was because the amateur stuff was good but the professional part was like with NASCAR only worse. I couldn’t deal with them financially.”

The loss of weekly racing at the track could alter how much NASCAR visits the track with the Whelen Modified Tour. Typically NASCAR regional touring events focus on running at short tracks that support NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series weekly racing program.

The Whelen Modified Tour visits Thompson four times a year. The series also visits Stafford Motor Speedway four times a year. The two tracks made up more than half of the 14 event Whelen Modified Tour schedule this year.

“What would they have?” Hoenig said when asked about the possibility of NASCAR not going to the track if weekly racing was eliminated. “Thompson and Stafford are the backbone of the Tour and the drivers have always supported these two racetracks and the race fans have. That’s basically the hub of what they have. I don’t know where else they would go.”

Hoenig said he blames NASCAR for many of the ills that have come over his weekly program.

“I went through this with NASCAR on Monday,” Hoenig said. “I told them, you go back thirty years, there was tracks like Thompson, Stafford [Motor Speedway], Seekonk [Speedway] and all the New England tracks, we fed all these customers to you. They became your customers and you took them away from us. Now they’re all [Sprint Cup Series] oriented and we don’t have any race fan base like we used to.”

Hoenig said decisions on what next year will look like at the track need to be made quickly.

“In a month we’ll know,” Hoenig said. “… It’s going to take another month before we know exactly where we’re going to go for another year. But we have to tell people.”

—————————————————————
—- Follow RaceDayCT at Facebook
—- Follow RaceDayCT on Twitter
—————————————————————
Did you like this? Share it:

Comments

  1. I hope Thompson is back!

  2. Would be a shame

  3. John Moffitt says:

    I also don't think a lot of people can make it on Thurs nite, me for one can't. They ought to go back to Sun afternoons and cut down on the number of classes they run….Just sayin.

  4. Nicholas Lecuyer says:

    Maybe he shouldn't charge 75 bucks to get in .. Cheap admission .. Pack the stands and sell everything else …he is his own worst enemy

  5. Dennis Bennett says:

    Should be a weekend thing .

  6. Donna Dumas says:

    Absolute shame…..I am there every week. What I don't understand is how come Stafford has so many more cars? Don't close it down!

  7. Nicholas Lecuyer says:

    Look at bowman Grey it's like 10 bucks and the place pretty much sells out

  8. Dennis Bennett says:

    I dont drive in circles anyway gas cost to much .

  9. Dennis Bennett says:

    I would race anyone when im on my way home from work.

  10. Joseph Dionne says:

    what you don't like the deal of spending 300 a week to win 100?

  11. Dennis Bennett says:

    Thats a very good night without tires . $!200 for tires burn them off and win $175 . Count me in Ill use my bike only two tires.

  12. Dennis Bennett says:

    Fast track my ass I drove faster on David circle.

  13. Bill McNeil says:

    Get rid of Ben………..hes been to the funeral of another track too.

  14. Lower the cost of admission as already stated here…enforce tech..drop at least one mod division and if you can't field a dozen cars then you don't have a division…back gate isn't going anywhere but the cost is now out of control…

  15. They treat the competitors and fans like crap………..many times have driven right by there to go to another track racing on the same night…….get rid of Ben also…good riddance to that dump!

  16. Tony Leckey says:

    The loss of weekly racing at Thompson would be a shame but I don't think that anyone should be surprised that it's a possibility. It is not only a sign of the times but as the business changes I think that a promoter has to react to that. For example the lack of uniformity in tech rules just had to bite Thompson at some point. The car counts certainly suffered this year for that and likely for many other reasons as well. If they did that for next year would it make a difference? As Donald said "don't know" and that's an accurate statement. Promoters don't set admission prices and pit fees by plucking a number out of the air. They are based on estimated crowd counts and car counts to allow the facility to make a profit in order to keep operating. It's also a big facility with expenses on a race night proportionate to that. As far as the tour schedule goes, I don't think that NASCAR would be foolish enough to cut their dates because they'd be diminishing their own schedule. I can't and won't talk about their gate admission and pit fees. Ben Dodge is one of the very best promoters/consultants to ever come out of this region. I am pretty certain that there are very few stones that Ben has left unturned. I have worked both with Ben and worked for Ben. Same for Russ Dowd who may know the demographics of Thompson better than anyone. I hope that things work out at the Big T. Best way for anyone to turn this thing around is to support the program and the issues would be alleviated.

  17. Gary Hietala says:

    Have to agree. Hate to see race tracks close. Would going to fewer maybe longer races help? Who knows but maybe its worth a shot. Nascar wouldn't be shooting themselves in the foot if they cut Thompson from the schedule, they would be shooting themselves in the head. ..their schedule isn't what it used to be. Besides there is still the MRS series which has virtually the same cars & drivers. This economy is biting everybody bad. I don't think it'll get better until the price of fuel is brought under control. Not too many people get raises every year. With the price of fuel going up in the neighborhood of 50 cents/year it doesn't take long to eat up incomes. If people have to put their money into their tanks to go to work they can't put it into the economy.

  18. Bill McNeil says:

    The economy certainly put a dent in everyones racing. BUT other tracks have great counts and ticket sales. You cant blame all this on the economy. Id recommend a hard look at management. Putting a road coarse in with the same guy running it is like switching seats on the titanic….His times over, he needs to go. His favortisms and bad decisions have killed thompson. no other excuse. Ask the people that have left, they all say the same thing. INFACT most EVERYONE that has left is racing at another track…so stop the political correctness bullshit and start working on the problem….

  19. Wayne Stuart says:

    That would be a shame. I must admit that I don't follow auto racing but in the many years I worked in those areas for the Phone Company, (Thompson, Stafford Springs), that many people were big fans of racing in those areas and I used to see cars of both fans and racers come into those area from far and wide in the tri-state area and beyond. They are rural areas and there is not a lot of business to attract large amounts of people except the race tracks.

  20. Keith Paul says:

    All you and other NASCAR tracks need to do is elimiate NASCAR and have a buy-back rule. Meaning, set a certain reasonable cost to run a series and have the track the option to 'buy' the car if it thinks it exceeds these costs. I'm tellin' ya it works. K. Paul, 2nd place runner (under a pseudonym). Your welcome.

  21. Ron Pignolet says:

    I disagree ,I have been going every Thursday night for years ,and the fan count and car count was great. They need one set of rules for every race race car driver. The same drivers that raced at Thompson are racing at Stafford and Waterford . Why? That's the problem !Magement pull your heads out of your butts

  22. Phil Jacques says:

    3 days of racing has a lot of overhead. plus all the purses the track has to pay out and employees they have to pay… 75 is steep but fair for such an event

  23. Nicholas Lecuyer says:

    Ok well the people who only plan on going 1 day should pay 1/3 of that … It's steep … You can get in Loudon for 35…

  24. Phil Jacques says:

    You can get into loudon for $35 and only see about 1/4 of the racing you do see here haha.

  25. Nicholas Lecuyer says:

    Fact is he is killing the people who support him … I'd rather watch a Loudon modified race thanThompson crash fest

  26. Nicholas Lecuyer says:

    Maybe I'm just cranky to drive over a hour in the rain this am to pay 75 bucks for one day …

  27. I've always wondered why a track like Thunder Road in Vermont will pack them in, I'm talking about huge crowds. Could it be that they only charge $25 for a whole family, and let you bring your own beer. If you make it affordable for a family to attend you win fans for life, more people equals more money in the long run. I can't afford to bring my family to the track at $300, and then pay outragous prices for food and beer.

  28. I've always wondered why a track like Thunder Road in Vermont will pack them in, I'm talking about huge crowds. Could it be that they only charge $25 for a whole family, and let you bring your own beer. If you make it affordable for a family to attend you win fans for life, more people equals more money in the long run. I can't afford to bring my family to the track at $300, and then pay outragous prices for food and beer.

  29. Get the car count back and the Fans will come back. Why would the average fan go this year when the car count is so bad in the Sk they have run Sk lites in the same feature etc. I am a season ticket holder to Stafford Speedway and I did not attend the this weekend due to poor car counts and the weekend is too expensive. I attended the Ice Breaker and a Sunday Whelen Modified tour and I am sorry to say the fan and car count was so bad that also factored in to my decision not to go this weekend.

  30. Also I know 7 People that also said the same thing as me.

  31. And streamline the Modified rules, so you can run one car for SK, Valenti, and the Tour. Too many different rules between the divisions. Ever heard for K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Maybe if Mr. Hoenig et al, listened to thier clients/fans, the seats would be filled, and the car count would increase.

  32. P.S., they run on Thursday night.

  33. Nick Bendiak says:

    Lets all move on. The Hoenings don't live in the real world. We ll find a another track but they should have shown the people that have support them for the last 30 yrs a little more respect

  34. Mathew Rzewnicki says:

    Gerard, you'll never get the SK cars to run the same rules as the MRS or Tour cars. If they do, then why run in the SK division? The SK/Sunoco mods rules are based on the NASCAR Tour rules with motor, transmission, seat, exhaust differences(there are others, but you get the idea). The basic car is the same, just trimmed down to TRY to make it affordable for the weekly racers.

  35. Mathew Rzewnicki says:

    I've read a bunch of the comments here, and I have to agree with a few points. Thursday nights are tougher to race than a Friday or Saturday night. Most employers don't jump for joy when an employee asks for a half day or day off every Thursday to go racing. Secondly, the costs of racing. Most Thursday night shows at Thompson aren't $75. For the most part, it's $30 per person to get into the pits, which ain't that bad. It's the cost of tires, fuel, and oil that kills. Third, the rules. I agree that this is a major factor in lower car counts. Aligning the rules so that Stafford and Waterford cars can compete wouldn't be the worst thing. One drawback to that is too many cars. If you are consistently sending cars home, then they start not showing up. It has the potential to hurt all three tracks.

    I don't agree with too many mod divisions though. At what point do you consider too many too many? I didn't know 2 was too many. If that's the case, then I think we need to get rid of a bunch of the tour series, because there's just too many of those. I mean 3 tour series, jeeze. See how dumb it sounds? 2 mod divisions isn't too many. If you think about it, Stafford has 2, and Waterford has 2. So why is 2 at Thompson too many?

  36. I love Thompson International Speedway, but it takes me an hour and fifteen to twenty minutes to get to Thompson. I can get to the 'Bowl in a half hour and Stafford in 45 minutes. I won't be going to Thompson again until they start racing Sunday afternoon. Thursday night is impossible.

  37. Marty Martin says:

    I believe that they should go back to how they ran it years ago. Combine the late models and limited's and the Thompson mods and lites. Keep the mini's and sk's. Form the sk's rules wise to the other two tracks and return the tri track championship. Run the track on Sundays and yes, bring back the 300 but not for the tour, for the sk division with guarenteed spots from different tracks like before. Get rid of Mr Dodge and get a good race director. Bottom line is try to cut the teams cost anyway possible tech wise, towing and gas will always be there. It would be a shame for the track just to close.

  38. As I said a few times, lower the pit passes, lower the ticket prices and people will come. As a lifelong Thompson resident and a fan of the Weekly Racing series and the modified tour, I wish they would listen to me/us. It's a motor track, which adds to the costs. If you have a high dollar motor than everything is fine. If you don't then oh well. That, in my opinion, is why it is so tough to race at Thompson in a premier division. It's sad, but it is what it is…

  39. Phil Jacques says:

    2 is perfect… they currently run 3 divisions at thompson. The thompson mods bombed and need to go… In my eyes all that is needed to run a successful weekly show is SK, SKL, Sportsman, Late Model and Mini stocks. Lengthen the features, give the guys some more practice and it will be a good show! people don't care about the quantity of racing if the QUALITY of racing is there… The world series this past weekend showed that the QUALITY can be there! The track is close to having it right. Like I said earlier this season, rome wasnt builit in a day. They have made huge changes all year and it's slowly starting to turn everything into a HUGE positive!

  40. Josh Ivory says:

    so your saying that the speedbowl drivers couldnt go to another track like thompson and finish in a respectable spot?

  41. Mathew Rzewnicki says:

    I wouldn't say the Thompson mods bombed at all. Especially when put side by side with the lites. If you actually looked at the points standings, there were the same number of cars that competed on a weekly basis in both divisions. Personally, I would like to see them combine the sk and the sk lightes into one race, but scored seperately. Same number of cars, one less race to run, same number of people getting in the back gate. Just look at the points next time you say sh*t like that.

  42. This is why I go to Lebannon valley, full car counts, cheap food , 10 bucks to get in, and great DIRT racing, the only track in Connecticut that is worth going to is the speedbowl on wednesday nights…..

  43. But Matt, if the rules make it so SK is more affordable, why are the car counts down?

  44. mb says:

    bring on racing 2013

Leave a Reply