Thompson Speedway Needs To Reign In Competitors For The Good Of The Track

THOMPSON – It’s probably the most commonly asked question around the pits at short tracks in Connecticut these days: What is wrong at Thompson?

Things haven’t been all that pretty this year when it comes to car counts or attendance at Thursday night shows this year at Thompson International Speedway.

A trending spiral downward over the last few years has made a situation where half the weekly divisions at the track are averaging less than 10 cars a week, with the track’s premier division, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modifieds, usually just getting over that 10 number each week.

The SK Light Modified division is getting 3-5 cars a week, the Thompson Modified division 6-7 cars and the Late Models usually about 7-9 cars. The SK Modified division is averaging about 12 cars a week.

Ask those in the pits why there’s such a struggle to get cars and it’s hard to pinpoint one reason. It’s the economy, it’s Thursday nights, it’s the rules packages, it’s the long drive for many to Thompson.

But one of the top reasons people give for the lowered car counts at the track is a lack of consistency with officiating. Talk to teams that have left the track, talk to those even still competing, and most will say inconsistent officiating is one reason for the issues.

We’re not ready to agree with that assessment. We can’t speak for what goes on in tech, but we think the officiating crew at least overseeing the competition has been doing a fair and consistent job.

But then nights like last night happen when you wonder just what is going on.

What happened Thursday in the Thompson Modified division is a hallmark example of how a track can build up a reputation around the sport for having officiating that isn’t serving the competition in the way it should be.

At the start of the Thompson Modified feature Thursday Jay Sundeen and Glenn Boss were involved in a frontstretch wreck. Boss got out of his car and was approaching Sundeen’s car after the wreck. Boss had to be restrained by track officials.

And it could be clearly heard over the radio from track officials that Boss was being thrown out of the event for his behavior. But what happened? Boss got back in his car and lined back up with the field on the track.

Despite being told by track officials to park his car, Boss would not go to pit road. Frustrated officials gave up trying to remove him and instead just restarted the event with Boss running in the field and not being scored.

In that moment that officials decided to leave Boss on the track, the message that was sent to every driver competing there was don’t listen to the directives of officials.

And the last thing Thompson Speedway needs right now is competitors deciding they can ignore officials.

Yes, Thompson is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place right now. Car counts are abysmal. Do you want to throw guys out for bad behavior and make a low car count look that much worse? It has to be a tough call for officials at the track.

Remember, this is sport built on finding the edges, on making the most of what you can take advantage of. That doesn’t only have to do with building stout motors and clean bodies. It has also has to do with knowing how far you can push officials, both technically and on the track.

And surely the competitors there know that. They know that the last thing Thompson Speedway officials want to do is make already abysmal car counts look even worse through suspensions or throwing guys out of races. And conversely, they also know that drivers have a choice to go to the track or not and can use that fact against officials.

But all that said, track officials can’t make the right call and then relent because someone acts like a child. They threw Glenn Boss out of the race Thursday and just because Boss acted like a petulant child, track officials should not have restarted the event wit him on the track.

Even at the circus, the clowns don’t run the show, it’s the ringmaster that says exactly what’s going to go on. Thursday at Thompson officials let a clown spit in the ringmaster’s face by not standing up to Boss. Good car counts or bad car counts, short track officials can’t allow competitors to decide by themselves how they’re going to be policed or punished.

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