Thompson International Speedway has a new man overseeing the competition at the facility.
Back problems, which have led to numerous surgeries, forced the 50-year old Zuidema out of racing competition after the 2010 season.
“My whole adult life has been racing cars,” said the 50-year old Zuidema, from North Brookfield, Mass. “It was the hardest thing in the world I had to do to walk away from driving and I think this is the next best thing.”
Zuidema has served as race director of the Pro Four Modifieds of New England since 2011 and hopes to continue in that role in addition to work at Thompson.
Zuidema said he will work hand-in-hand with Josh Vanada at the Thompson in the coming season. Vanada had been named the track’s director of competition last season. It’s unclear if Vanada’s title will be reworked.
Longtime track advisor Ben Dodge Jr. left the track last week. Zuidema said he will not be replacing Dodge as a full-time associate at the track. Zuidema said Dodge’s position will be filled through a group of people.
Zuidema will be tasked with repairing a weekly racing program at Thompson that has suffered mightily over the past few seasons. Last year the track struggled to attract double digit fields most weeks in three of its six weekly divisions. The track’s premier SK Modified division saw most of its events running with fields under 15 cars. It was confirmed Wednesday that the track will eliminate it’s Thompson Modified division, which usually ran 5-6 car fields each week in 2012.
“We need racecars,” Zuidema said. “The first thing I need to do is get some racecars to that racetrack. There was an exodus, one that even included me. The first thing that needs to be fixed is getting racecars there and that’s what I’m going to roll up my sleeves and try to do.
“I am going to be readily available to talk to anybody about anything at any point in time and I think that’s one of the things that needs to be done there.
Zuidema left the track’s Late Model division in 2009 to run regularly on the American-Canadian Tour.
“I think I bring a competitors look at things, which I will continue to bring,” Zuidema said. “I don’t know that there’s been anybody in the past in that position that actually had been a competitor so they never saw things from that side of it. I have. I know what it takes. I know the weekly struggles, I know the disappointments and I think I can bring that look at things forward and that’s one of the big things you need to bring some racecars back there.”
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