THOMPSON – After three consecutive weeks of rain-outs at the Thompson International Speedway, regular drivers arrived at the track Thursday to find a far different landscape on the grounds from when they last competed on July 18.
Track officials had expected to begin the major elements of construction on a new road course at the facility in early November. But when construction company officials told track management in late July that they could start work early, track officials jumped at the chance.
Thursday drivers and fans arrived at the track to find great expanses of new grading going on new, buildings being built and mounds of fill piled in different places.
It meant for some slight modifications for paddock access for competitors, many of whom were moved from the normally used front paddock to a rear paddock beyond turn three of the .625-mile oval.
Track general manager Jonathan Hoenig addressed the many changes happening with competitors during Thursday’s driver’s meeting.
“I just want to clear the air on a lot of things that have been going around,” Hoenig told drivers. “Obviously we’re under construction. I want to thank everybody for putting up with it and coming out tonight. We’ve had three rain-outs in a row in the last three weeks and every week we were ready to race. With the construction, we’ve prepared for that.
“We did our best we could to prepare the grounds so it wasn’t too much of a hassle. Anything that we can do for you extra to accommodate, please let us know. Just to clear up a few rumors, nothing is happening with the oval. It is staying as it is. We’re going to make the best improvements we can around the whole facility to make it better.”
Hoenig said the track expects to run a limited oval track racing schedule in 2014. Hoenig also addressed the possibility of the track’s traditional Icebreaker possibly being cancelled next year.
On July 18 Hoenig said it was likely that the event would not be on the schedule, though that was before construction plans were aggressively moved forward.
“We were supposed to start construction the first of November,” Hoenig said. “We had an opportunity to do it now and we took that opportunity so here we are. So it’s looking like we’re going to be way ahead of where we thought we’d be by the spring.”
Hoenig, who represents the fourth generation of the family to operate the facility, assured drivers that there are no plans to scrap short track oval racing at the facility.
“Oval racing will always be a part of this facility,” Hoenig told drivers Thursday. “We never plan on doing away with it. Despite of what people might say about me, and what the plans are here, it’s not the truth. If you hear any of the rumors and you want answers, contact the track office and they’ll give you my cell phone. I’ll meet with every one of you personally if necessary.”
Hoenig said all the improvements at the track are with all competition at the facility in mind.
“What we’re intending on doing is creating a motorsports facility for everyone to enjoy,” Hoenig told drivers. “It’s not just for road racers, it’s not just for private club guys, it’s for everyone. Please be very patient as we go through this transition. It’s not easy for any of us. It’s a big job as you can see and we’re doing our best.”
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