Viciousness A Foolhardy Response For Those Riled By Thompson Speedway Changes

Thompson Speedway CEO Jon Hoenig (left) and general manager Terry Eames (right) (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

RaceDayCT Column

You know what happened the day after the first short track racing facility was opened? Somebody complained about the way the track was being operated.

Ok, forgive us for a small bit of levity at this moment of pain, but customers constantly complaining about how the track is run is just part of the fabric of short track racing. 

Show me a short track where none of the customers are complaining about something the ownership is doing and I’ll show you a race track that isn’t operating. And let’s be frank, competitors are short track customers just the same as the grandstand ticket buying fans. 

Which brings us to the news that overtook competitors at Thompson Speedway Thursday like a tornado through a tent city. 

Thompson Speedway ownership, through an e-mail communication, informed competitors of a proposed six-event 2020 season that would include a massive reduction in purses for the track’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. 

As expected, the reaction of the local racing community was one that ran the gamut from shock and disappointment to bombastic name-calling and accusations all the way to vile rage directed at track ownership and management. 

If you’re around short track racing long enough you realize that for so many people deeply involved there grows to be an emotional ownership so to speak of race tracks. 

From competitors to team owners to fans, that emotional ownership takes hold, especially if short track racing has been a part of one’s family or livelihood for generations. 

Emotional ownership isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’s a passion that helps cultivate the continued growth of a facility and the sport. When people claim that emotional ownership they want to spread it. They want their friends and family to feel the same way they do about a place. 

Though what gets lost for many who deem themselves emotional owners of the facility where they race or just go as fans is that emotional owners don’t have to pay the bills to keep the business going.

That’s the beauty of being the emotional owner of a race track, you can love it, you can let your passion for it bleed through, you can defend the place like it’s your kin, but at the end of the day your emotional ownership doesn’t pay the staff or the insurance bill or the electric bill or the water bill or any of the other things that keep a business operational. 

And that’s the stark reality of what’s taking place right now at Thompson Speedway. 

Family ownership of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park has made some decisions that certainly aren’t popular among the customer base of their oval track facility, and certainly aren’t really the directions they ultimately wanted to see their business go. But they’ve made those decisions based on their own prognostication of how to keep the property they own viable in a rapidly changing marketplace. 

And ultimately the most important words in that last sentence are “the property they own.” 

Thompson Speedway is not a public park or a community pool or a library or playground. It’s a business. Every race track is a business. Unfortunately there are too many people in short track racing who have long thought that race tracks shouldn’t make money. That race track owners should be happy to break even while stoking the passion fires for racing among competitors and fans. 

It’s in no way that we’re saying there’s anything that should be celebrated by the decisions made by track ownership to slash purses, but at the same time, it’s their business. It’s their property and they can choose how to run it the way they want. And in doing that they shouldn’t be subjected to disgusting attacks on social media for the decisions they make. 

Nobody makes anybody buy a race car. Thompson Speedway CEO Jonathan Hoenig has never once in his life held a gun to anybody’s head and forced them to buy a race car and compete with it at his family’s racing facility. And ultimately, that’s really all it comes down to. Fans and competitors are the customer. They are the consumer that can make a decision how they want to spend their money. 

If you don’t want to be a customer then choose not to be a customer without personally attacking people. Would you go on social media and lob abhorrent slurs at a pizza shop owner if they changed the menu and raised the prices? 

Taking a more focused look at the ugliness that has spread over the last 24 hours, it’s appalling to see those putting Thompson Speedway general manager Terry Eames on the social media firing line for immediate execution. 

Blaming the current situation on Eames is simply forwarding an uneducated agenda to make him a scapegoat because of his previous history in racing locally. Eames didn’t make these major changing decisions for the track, and anyone inferring he did is beyond ill-informed. Track ownership is taking things in a direction they feel is best for the long-term sustainability of what they own. The issues that have led to those decisions have long been in play at Thompson, well before Eames’ arrival as general manager about 15 months ago. 

Yes, we all know Eames’ previous ownership of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl ended with the track being foreclosed on in 2014. And that fact has nothing to do with anything at play in Thompson. But, for entertainment’s sake, lets’ just look back a little bit. 

A common refrain on social media from many over the last 24 hours has been basically saying Eames destroyed the Speedbowl and now he destroyed Thompson too. And those are two statements that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

For all the vitriol long directed at Eames, people in the local racing community are quick to forget that if it wasn’t for the decisions Eames made while he owned the Speedbowl the track would likely have been long gone. For nearly a decade Eames fought the fight of financial issues at the Speedbowl, through it all trying to keep the place a race track. 

People are quick to forget that he had multiple chances during his final years there to sell that property off to suitors who wanted to shut down the track. He could have paid off all his debt, made a tidy profit in the process and walked away from a closed down track with money in his pocket. But instead of taking the easy way of getting himself out of the financial distress he was burdened with there he chose to spend nearly a decade fighting to keep that place operational as a race track. 

No disrespect meant to the current ownership and management of the Speedbowl but remember, under Eames – despite all the financial issues faced – the track always had high car counts, something that hasn’t been the case there for a few years. Under Eames’ ownership there the track was never delayed in opening a season. Under Eames’ ownership there the track was never closed for a season. 

The reality is people should thank Eames that there’s even still a glimmer of hope today for the Speedbowl to someday open again because he could have closed it down a long time ago and he chose not to do that. There is still a Speedbowl today because of Eames, not in spite of him. 

When the Speedbowl did go to foreclosure auction in October 2014 there were only two people involved in local racing that showed up to try to bid for the place. 

And that should be a telling fact when it comes to examining the current situation at Thompson. It seems that nobody that wants to be a competitor in short track racing wants to own the track to do it. Why not? Why isn’t anyone involved as a competitor stepping to the plate to buy their own track, or better yet build their own?

Keith Rocco has plenty invested in the oval racing program at Thompson Speedway, both financially and emotionally. The multi-time Thompson Speedway champion could very easily be one calling track ownership and management every name in the book publicly. On Thursday his response to the situation though was measured and mature. He said he didn’t like the changes, he said he didn’t think they were good for the sport and he said he’d be there racing in April, because, it’s what he does. 

Nobody will make him go, he’ll make the decision like any adult that can make any decision as a consumer. No insults, no accusations, no disparaging people for the decisions they’ve made about the property they own. Short track racing looks better for that response, especially coming in a sea of hateful viciousness that overtook so many Thursday. 

People have to realize the reasons why Thompson Speedway ownership has reached the place they are in now, that it doesn’t all have to do with how the track has been managed or operated in previous years. The landscape of short track racing has changed immensely in the last 20 years. And that’s not to say that all the issues can be easily tied up in some sort of “well racing is just struggling everywhere” box. Attendance is down in racing, everywhere. Participation is down in racing, everywhere. Short tracks are closing down or cutting back to very limited schedules, everywhere. 

Yes some facilities are making the best of a tougher than ever landscape, but more are struggling than thriving. Ultimately, nobody has any right to tell anyone how to run something they don’t own. Be disappointed, be distraught, be irritated but be better than just being nasty, ugly and hateful.

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  1. Dave Seredejko says

    Two sides to every story. This article says a lot. Am I happy about it? No. I have been taking the 96 miles trip each way to Thompson since the early 70″s. I have said for years, that if I could only attend one race track, Thompson would be it. I hope oval track survives, and they find a way to keep and improve on the bigger special and tour races.

  2. I 100% agree with everything you said about the financial future of there property. My only problem is I get cutting races but the purse they want to pay is disgusting. Can’t give these guys a purse like that and expect them to take time off work to support there decision to cut back. They should be ashamed to even post that purse and just shut it down completely.

  3. I love Thompson. Been going there since I was a kid In the 60’s.
    Always supported the gate and concessions, like us all. But even with that, the plain fact of the matter is, there are less and less of us die hard fans. The Icebreaker, the August night show, and World Series have great crowds. But for some reason, the weekly series when they stand alone, well, not so much. Seems to me, the support may be at Stafford on Friday nights, ok, but not at Thompson, for essentially the same card, for whatever reason.
    There are a lot of calls here for a Sunday card here to help out. Well maybe, you gotta try something. But I must say this, (not defending mgmt) Thompson ran 5 Sunday stand alone cards in 2019. They were woefully attended. Just sayin.
    Maybe adding something to it would help, I’m not sure.
    Dareall got this one right, it is not the 60’s with Chevelles, hemi road runners and shelby mustangs up and down every main drag usa, vying for bragging rights. Where racing and interest in racing was “the in thing”. And local tracks were the draw, (and benefitted from) playing off of that genuine “era”.
    Sure, there are a lot of reasons for loss of interest, and a decline of the sport. Can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of the reasons. Bottom line is ,well, (bad pun not intended ) the bottom line.
    I would venture a guess here, that most of us are of an older generation. Not a younger generation. And hey, thats where the buying power is. Without the Young’uns to fill the stand, well, who can blame Jonathan? And it pains me to say that, but the math dont lie. Numbers are numbers.
    I so feel for the racers invested, and crew members, their families, invested in what they love, to have to get this “ultimatum”. And to be put front and center, in my opinion, of the Thompson “decision”.
    I wish Thompson mgmt would be more up front with all who have supported them in the past. At least be honest. Painful as it might be. I feel they are being less than forthcoming, about an ultimate outcome of the oval situation, that I feel has already been decided. And yes, a business that doesn’t owe anybody anything. Not a reason or excuses. Business is business, I understand. He who holds the cards gets to deal. But geez…
    “Old days” gone.
    Kind of like old race fans, where you would do something on a firm handshake and a good look in the eye, and nothing more. A dying breed.
    Too melodramatic? My apologies. But I have to say, with this Thompson release, I feel like I just lost one of my closest old buddies. Progress. No one says ya gotta like it. I sure don’t right now. But I guess I just cant deny or sugarcoat the inevitable outcome anymore. A sad development on the local racing scene for sure.

  4. Sad but telling, it seems like another nail in the coffin of grass roots asphalt racing. I think people underestimate how much it truly costs to put on a race, when you are running features with an average of fifteen cars it’s tough to scrape out much money. People forget it costs a track huge money to have a tour there and they are not making money off tires fuel ect so you can only really look at weekly divisions. The difference between 12 or 15 cars and 25 or more like the old days is huge. Why not offer a purse structured on car count, you support us we support you, create a driver coop of sorts where the more teams show pay into the purse the higher it gets.

  5. Like A-holes & everyone has one, here is mine. Love the WMT & mods as they go. I travel from DE @ icebreaker & fall final, can’t attend anything in between.
    Jonathan, no disrespect but the comments nobody makes anybody buy a race car & never once held a gun to anybody’s head are petty ! Can’t you say something better than that ? If there is writing on the wall then let it out & be done with it ! “I” feel some of the biggest problem lay with NASCAR ! They don’t give enough support to 1 of their own divisions, look what they have done to their main division!
    Your statement about Terry Eames is probably true, but for us the customer as you say, it’s a subconscious thing, I don’t believe anybody is really blaming him but it does look bad! So saying if you don’t want to be a customer then choose not to -yea yea yea- that’s easy to say !
    I understand the management end $$$ overhead, etc. & the track not being public. But what about the road course that I thought was to help the track overall, the golf course & the clubhouse & special events? No mention as to their future!
    Lastly, Keith Rocco is right, but honestly that won’t last at $425. a purse!
    That’s just pissing in the wind!

  6. Bob Zatulskis says

    I agree and understand that the track ownership has the right to do whatever they want with the track, however I think anyone who has supported the track feels used by ownership. When the road course wasn’t running or very sparsely, ownership depended upon the oval track for its survival. Now they have a new base to draw upon and the oval teams are being forced out and make no mistake about it they are being forced out. Instead of trying to run another night on a weekend or trying to work with surrounding tracks, or even hustling to get more sponsors,they are forcing teams to either compete at Thompson and lose money, which they can’t do but have decided it’s ok for the teams supporting them to,or they can not compete at Thompson and have a car that’s not legal anywhere else because Thompson has their own rules. That’s not how you treat those who have supported you and have provided your living the past years. Part of the email also said that the oval will eventually need repairs and they can’t afford it and will inevitably become unsafe. So all of the money that was spent to pave the road course ( which includes part of the oval) as well as the new garages and out buildings,!no one considered paving the oval too? Or at least fix the areas that need repairs? I’m sorry, this is just someone who feels they should have better friends and abandons those who stuck by them through the tough times.

  7. Bob,
    The road course was brought back as a means to keep the oval operational. There was never a time when the operation of the road course was dependent on the oval as you say. As far as finding another “night on the weekend” as you say, there’s two issues with that. Sunday’s didn’t draw and you can’t run on Fridays against Stafford or Saturday’s against Seekonk (and possibly Waterford again). I’ve been covering Thompson Speedway regularly for 20 years and the most successful period I remember for the Weekly Racing Series was when the track ran on Thursday nights, so to me the continued mantra that weeknights will never work doesn’t hold water.

  8. For me, Thompson is the center of the Universe of Modified racing. It is THE track. It was alarming when the road course plans were announced. That was the writing on the wall. Car counts were light back then, never really recovered. Better, but not ample today. Fans haven’t come back in great numbers either. The thoughts and plans to put in a road course had to happen a year or more before it was announced and the work began. So this was in the works for a very long time.

    Let’s face it, short track racing is in decline, probably tracking with the demographics of people that grew up in the 60s and 70s with big, bad azz American V8 muscle cars dominating the street scene. Who remembers Car Craft and Hot Rod magazines? Look at the people in the stands… old, grey hair, bald. There are no interested young replacement fans to backfill and replace these people. Many young people today don’t have a drivers license, and are not interested in cars.

    Even kids toys today are not car centric as they were when I was a kid.

    For years I have been hoping the oval surface would be replaced/reconditioned/whatever. But the car counts have been low for a long time. Hard to justify the expense. But then, why wasn’t done when the road course was put in? Would have been more cost effective than having it done itself at a later time.

    And I agree with Shawn about the ire aimed at the Hoenig’s. Look at what happened when the ‘bowl didn’t operate because of owner issues. People were incensed because they didn’t have a place to go play cars, like the track was there and obligated to serve them. The sense of entitlement just reeks. If there aren’t enough customers, the business can not continue. Happens all the time. Sadly, our passion is being impacted now.

  9. You can attempt to minimize this situation any way you wish however, it is all about the approach. And frankly the approach absolutely sucked.

  10. Very well said Shawn, when i read the previous comments it disgusts me. Here you have the track owner reaching out to everyone with 100% honesty asking for the competitors support to keep the place alive and people act like disrespectful idiots! Im kind of thick headed and if i were Jonathan i’d be tempted to tell us all to go F our selfs in light of the disrespectful comments!
    If we dont like it we don’t have to go there, but if we do like it i suggest we all suck it up butter cups and stand behind the place!
    Shawn says why isnt any one trying to open there own track? Understand this, you cant open one! No town in this area would allow it! Once the tracks are gone there gone for good!
    Jonathan’s family owns the place and they have the right to do what they choose to. I dont know about the rest of you but this guy is going to do what every he can do to see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of the East survive for many years to come! If any one thinks the purse money is why we do this then they are nuts!! We do it because we love the sport!!

  11. Sunday’s twi night races at Thompson was the most successful era in the last 40 years. We had plenty of time to get our car ready for racing after a late night at Waterford, have family Sunday dinner before heading to Thompson around 3:30. Warmups started at 4, races started at 6:00, 3 divisions racing done by 9. All cars were the same at every track so plenty of cars which brought plenty of fans. Tough getting to work Monday morning but made enough money to race Stafford on Friday- good times

  12. It’s a sad day when a track owner makes the competitors decide the fate of a race track that I competed at for 9 years. I raced there because of the purse and the awesome competition. The money kept me coming back the next week. Without it there is no way an average racer could afford to race. Everyone knew that when the huge investment into the road course was unveiled that they were looking to expand revenue intake. I know people who currently compete in the road course and drifting competition and they love the facility. Business is business but I don’t understand how management can throw everything on the people who have supported a facility for decades and expect them to decide there future. I know that management loves the drifting competition because there’s no purse involved. I just hope that everyone involved can come together and save oval track racing. Thompson International Speedway will always be my favorite race track.

  13. What I got from the news is when the track gets to unsafe to run the oval they cant afford to fix it so that would be the end. I will say people dont a buisness to lose money or break even so I do understand that side.

  14. Are the reduced purses just for the 3 “NWS, only” events? Or will they be in effect for the 3 NWS/Tour shows, too?

  15. Bob Zatulskis says

    Shawn, I appreciate your reply but I wasn’t saying that the operation of the road course was dependant on the oval. Because there were times when the road course wasn’t used and the oval was the only revenue the track generated and the only reason the track survived. And since Seekonk doesn’t race Modifieds and Waterford may never open again I would think Saturday would be a good night to try, you would have a different fan base than Seekonk, and if ownership is interested in keeping the oval going they could try it. Or an even better idea, since Seekonk is so successful, ask them how they are doing it, work with them and the other tracks to find a solution instead of just burying their head in the sand and quiting because the road course guys have the money to spend and don’t need to be paid. I’ve been attending races at Thompson for over 40 years and I can tell you that Sunday afternoons drew the biggest crowds. And as I asked previously, if all of the infrastructure was done for the road course why wasn’t the oval included? Part of the oval is used for the road course so why not address track conditions then? My last question has to do with the purse, according to the email only the too 10 finishers will be paid and with the reduced payout 10th won’t even cover gas money to get to the track much less have anything to put back into the car. So they are going to charge teams the same to enter the races, probably more since half of them will be tour races, have them risk their equipment to entertain the Thompson customers, and potentially send them home with nothing if they wreck or finish 11th, how is that a sustainable model for a business? You are telling the people that put on the show that they don’t matter. Unless that’s you’re trying to say.

  16. Stuart Fearn says

    Race at Stafford Motor Speedway people. As far as I can tell the Arutes make their living from operating the speedway. They are motivated to continue to operate the premier short track in Connecticut, if not all of New England. Success at the Friday night races is paramount to put food on the table, this is not an option and they can simply go to the back up plan. Stafford’s business is NASCAR short track racing. If you like to race or watch racing that would be the place to invest your time and money in my opinion.
    It doesn’t take Nostradamus to see Thompson pits practically empty this spring and Stafford overflowing. There is no sense going full steam down a dead end street when there is a smooth flowing highway right next to it! This is just common sense and the writing is on the wall. I’ll see you at the Spring Sizzler on April 25th.

  17. I don’t know how many employees Thompson has but it has to be significant. I count 5 revenue streams for the facility. The ice cream stand, restaurant/banquet facility, golf, circle track and road course. Seasonal but not completely seasonal. Thompson is not Stafford. Thompson is bigger with more events to plan, a bigger budget and a multiple segments to manage. They have to decide where to put their resources and where they can get the biggest return.
    We like to think of the circle track vs road course as a battle for the hearts and minds of younger auto enthusiasts. If that’s the case then I’m sorry to say we lost.
    Ironically it is not the autocross/road course folks that are high dollar and snooty lot we like to paint them it’s we circle trackers. So high dollar we either have big budgets for a total commitment to racing or sit in the stands watching others race and smug in our “emotional ownership”.
    Autocross and track days are more participant centric and allow for everything from street cars to full modified race cars to compete. They’re about participation, not watching. Extremely affordable, improve driving ability and promote motor sports.
    The autocross/track days crowd isn’t the enemy it’s a new generation of us. In many ways a smarter more cost effective us that enjoys motor sports more in the participation then being a spectator. A return to affordable, grass roots racing that we circle trackers lament are gone but were the glory days for us.
    Autocross/track days is building a base of interest in motor sports. It’s not the enemy and may someday cross over to circle track depending on interests and economics. Meanwhile circle track will be fine in some places including Stafford. A place where they are running a full schedule, get kids interested with a strong karting program, expanded the modified opens, added a Pro Late Model open and have record numbers of SK’s and SK Lights pre registered.

  18. TSMP is in this position due to many years of mismanagement and treating customers (racers and fans) poorly. The track has done little to positively affect the oval racers for many years. Any positive changes were an inadvertent side-effect from the road-course development. Many of the decisions they have made, like spontaneously changing the rules or moving around the day/dates of races, have only cost competitors money and made it harder. It’s ludicrous to compare this situation to a pizza place that changes its menu and increases its pricing. When it comes to pizza, you don’t invest tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars into buying pizza at a specific pizza shop. This is what loyal competitors of TSMP have done to compete there. With their mismanagement and lack of respect for competitors, TSMP has continuously alienated their competitors and the fan base that has kept them in business for years. Because of this the competitors stayed home and the car counts became low. When the car counts are low, fans don’t show up to pay the highest ticket prices around. When cars don’t show up and fans don’t show up, you end up in the situation, the track is in now. It is right to say this is a business and it is also right to say this business brought this onto itself. Why is it that TTOMS has 35 cars show up in one division and sends 10 of them home with tow money but TSMP has car-counts less than 15? When you see what other tracks and series are doing to promote their track/series/drivers, the inadequacies of TSMP are obvious. The owners of TSMP want to sit back and collect easy money without doing much at a time when the economy is at its best instead of improving their business.

  19. So the oval track is showing signs of wear and will be in need of repair that they can’t afford and when that happens and becomes unsafe it will be closed. What happens when that same thing happens with the road course which sees more use that the oval track does? And if I am correct they use part of the oval for the road course? So isn’t that causing more distress to the oval track prematurely causing it to fail? And you are going to close the oval when it becomes unsafe? So how do we reconfigure the road course to eliminate the oval which is unsafe? Unsafe is unsafe so no racing vehicles should be on it period. It is all a crock of crap that I am not buying into. No matter what, the infrastructure will need maintenance which costs money 💰. Somehow it appears this was not a well thought investment. Don’t blame the team, blame the leader.

  20. Joseph Moniz says

    All Thompson is now is a rich kids playground

  21. Doug you are 100% correct. Go to Stafford when they do their Subaru Rally and see the parking lot completely jammed full like no race in the last 15-20 years. 1000s of cars and kids from surrounding States coming into Stafford to race and have fun. How many of those kids go to watch a race? Very few. Thompson made a huge investment in the road course and it is paying off. Golf Course, Banquet facility etc all profitable. We as spectators can say what ever we want but we are not the ones running the facility and paying the bills. If its not making money then close it down which allows for more road racing which is making money. Everyone thinks Stafford is packed every Friday night but go out on the track and look into the stands and you will be a big difference then sitting in them. Heck there is barely anyone sitting in the smaller stands coming out of 4 or the first pit stands going into 1.

  22. If I’m not mistaken Jonathan’s letter was addressed to the COMPETITORS…looking for response and commitments from race teams for 2020. Like Kieth Rocco and others, I’m not particularly happy with the options for next year. I certainly don’t have as much money invested as some racing teams, but over the years I’ve run my race cars at Thompson and I’ve invested enough, not including time and promotion.
    Thompson is in the middle of restructuring their oval racing program and has asked for input. This didn’t have to happen. If I want to continue racing at Thompson, I need to restructure my racing program,as well…which I’ve initiated by mailing my Drivers Registration Form and check yesterday.
    I encourage all drivers, team owners, and members to do the same. The negative comments and cheap shots at Jonathan Hoeing and others don’t help the cause. If we all want to continue to race on the oval at Thompson it needs supporting the program as put before us. Again…We were asked for our input, support and commitment. It would be a shame to see NASCAR racing cease at our race track.

  23. Go dirt racing like buzz chew did!

  24. Shaun that wouldn’t be uncle Terry would it , Stu I think you might have just gained a couple starting positions , that’s good planning, something lacking at Thompson and Todd if Stafford can do it with half empty stands and lower admission prices , it should be no problem for Jonathan or maybe management is a touch better at Stafford. At some point we all have to realize oval track is done in the quiet corner

  25. Yup, they own it and they can do as they please. What about the three tour races us WMT fans are about to lose? Little Johnny didn’t leave Nascar any time to replace those races. Thompson signed a contract for those races afterall. ISMA just released their schedule last week. I didn’t see tentative next to the Thompson date. Were they notified that the World Series was only a maybe this year? The ripple effects go far beyond Thompson proper because they waited until Christmas to announce this.

    They only got 12-14 SK mods last year. How does this announcement get more cars and fans? It doesn’t. The decision has been made. Little Johnny has every right to do it but have the rocks to own it instead of playing games and insulting participants. No need to wait until Jan 15Th. Now maybe if they had gone ahead and scheduled big events on Wednesdays with purses that might draw more than the ten fans and cars they will get we would have something. Even if they did open this year does anyone think the stands will be packed at those tour races after all this. Nope , not now. I will await the official announcement tomorrow morning. RIP Thompson.

  26. The Sunoco/SK mods are the undercard, or farm team system for the Tour mods. This will definitely thin out the Sunoco/SK mods, and folks will lose sight of the NWMT too.

    If the oval surface was repaved, it would be an awesome surface producing awesome racing. Build it and they will come.

  27. I’d like to ask Mr. Jon Hoenig what is the criteria he will apply to the responses he gets in order to determine if he will maintain a NASCAR sanction and oval program? What are the metrics that must be met? Who else gets to see this cumulative response from the competitors?

  28. Unfortunately no they won’t come. We all seem to be in denial about the state of the sport. Weekly racing everywhere is dying it costs to much to run a premier division and not many can afford the time commitment either. Look at any track in the country and there are features being run with 10 or 12 cars, even Stafford who is better then most is rolling out low fendered car features. We can criticize away but the facts are facts. Car counts are falling year after year and what I think Thompson is saying is here you go for the car counts and attendance we get this is what we can pay out to keep going. All the touring divisions cost money to have there so they need to have weekly divisions to make ends meet. We can all complain but racing car counts are steadily declining. Very few businesses could continue to operate if there customer base was steadily on the decline and operating costs are rising. No improvement will change this.

  29. Lets set up a “Go Fund Me” Page to resurface the track!

    They have one set up to build a giant escalator over Trumps wall, why not have one to resurface TMS??

  30. I am a racing fan. I attended all the races at Thompson last year. I live in the town. I am saddened by the news. I also go to Stafford. I do know, because I am not Intranet centric, I only showed up to some races because I saw Mini Stocks on 395. You cannot expect casual and hardcore fans to show up when you cannot enjoy a regular schedule. It may not be a guessing game to some, but, it has been for a few years to others. No advertising whatsoever. What day are they racing on this time? And to think management has not done that on purpose is kind of laughable. I would have more to add but I think that is enough.

  31. It is awful funny that the oval track surface is now becoming an issue. Is this the tracks opinion or have the competitors voiced a concern about the condition? First time I have seen this concern reported anywhere. Just another excuse by track management. How will the other tracks handle a resurfacing project when the time comes? It’s called asset planing. Not a new concept, well maybe in the quiet corner it is!

  32. Thompson was resurfaced a few years after Stafford. Probably about 15 yrs ago. Give or take. I think the previous surface was on there for about 35 yrs.

  33. Thompson is the heart of Tour Type modified racing. It is the homebase for modifieds. If Thompson cuts off the oval, modified Tour Type racing is doomed.

    Mike Smeriglio must be pissed. He’s trying to sell his operation, and the value just dropped tremendously with this news.

    Wall might ride off into the sunset, Waterford is a mess and might not reopen for years if at all, and now this gets dropped about Thompson.

    There is going to be a freeze in new cars being built, chassis sold, engines sold or overhauled, secondary markets, etc. This has sent chills throughout Modified racing.

  34. There is NO WAY they didn’t make a ton of money on World Series weekend alone. Place was packed end to end with campers, long food and beer lines, clubhouse rocking all weekend and even the breakfast buffet was dam busy. I think Thompson could be a huge success if they give it a chance and somehow make some positive changes. I go to all the races there and the biggest complaint by far is the ticket prices, especially for the big events Ice Breaker, Bud 150, World Series. etc. Another issue recently was minors paying full price for pit entry ($ 75) for world series vs 12 and under free previous years.Those kids were future fans that their parents couldn’t afford to get in now. . Offer single day tickets on Ice breaker and World Series weekends. Not everyone can make it for a full weekend, this seems like a no brainer. World Series Fri $ 15, Sat $25 Sun $ 35. and $ 55 for a 3 day pass.Give people more bang for their buck. Where is the marketing dept at TSMP??? How about more corporate $$$ supporting the oval ,Foxwoods etc?? Run on Sundays and have some big payout races for our weekly divisions like Stafford does for the 5K SK, maybe a 3K for our late models etc. TSMP is absoulutely my favorite track and I hope and pray that it will continue…………………….

  35. There might be a larger issue here that needs to be considered.
    If the competitors swallow this massive purse decrease and agree to participate, they are essentially saying that purses well under $2k, paying only 10 spots, are acceptable. They are devaluing their investments and setting a new — very low — bar for what all tracks can expect to pay while still having a competitor base willing to participate.
    In short, what’s to stop every other track owner from saying, “you run for pennies at Thompson, why should I pay you more than that?”
    I would encourage all competitors to consider what they feel the value of their investment (equipment, labor, time) is worth before agreeing to this. Because, agreeing is akin to saying “my value is next-to-nothing.”

  36. They didn’t say they are not making money on the NWMT races did they? It’s the non NWMT events that are losers AKA Nascar Weekly Series.
    I read the email four times and it gets worse every time. It’s like they blew up a bummer grenade, shrapnel hits things the make no sense as well as the things that do and all you can do is scratch your head.
    Unless you’re purposely trying to deep six the circle track a reality check like that has to at the least make sense. The Ice Breaker and World Series by all appearances as many have said could not appear to be much more successful. Yet they are lumped into the big vat of red ink referred to as “NWS losses”.
    If you have all those racing divisions and associated back gate fees. If you have stands well attended. If you have campers everywhere and the highest ticket prices anywhere and you can’t make money or at least enough money why is there even a conversation?
    OK I get it. The letter is addressed to competitors. They are the ones being asked to swallow the biggest bitter pill I’ve ever seen in local racing other then a track closing announcement. There’s a subliminal message to fans as well more destructive. ” revenues from NWS events simply do not justify this major expense”. “NWS losses”. “Continued losses at NWS events”. Don’t believe your eyes nor think the high price you’ve paid to be at the events was being supportive of anything worthwhile. The whole thing is a loser and you’re supporting a loser that combined with the track surface issue has just a half a tick above zero of surviving. Or cut out the chaff, keep the wheat. The wheat being the massive beginning and ending racing festivals with the NWMT headliners and the supporting series all opens. If you can’t make money on that then end it all so the competitors, fans and region can adjust and move on.
    OK so I don’t have a dog in this hunt and no longer go to Thompson. I can say though that letter is a self fulfilling promotion of failure to everything connected with circle track at Thompson. As well as everything connected with racing in the region not the least of whom are the people whose livelihoods depend on supplying competitors.

  37. The Thompson NWMT events are great events. BIG, BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT, GORGEOUS, the BEST crowds. The biggest crowds. Also the highest gate fees. What is it about these Thompson NWMT events that makes them so successful? Thompson does something right with these events.

  38. My point is TSMP is making money on the NWMT events, the road course,the clubhouse,and golfcourse. Make some positive changes to the weekly program ,don’t just throw it all away after almost 80 years. How are Seekonk and Stafford having successful programs and big payout races?? If anything TSMP should have an advantage because they have other income whereas the other tracks don’t. Years ago they used to have thrill shows like demo derby/monster trucks etc? Seekonk absolutely packs the house withe their thrill shows.Just my thoughts………

  39. Paul T, great point. Thompson seems to have lost its mojo for the weekly shows for whatever reason. Other places are doing well. Even the ‘bowl has its loyal following that are chomping at the bit to get going despite the theatrics. Fix the show, get the fans back.

    But like I said earlier, there has clearly been acrimony between the competitors and the track management in the past that may be a lingering factor. The track needs to be honest with itself, before it cuts off its nose to spite its face.

    Perhaps if the track were to put up respectable purses then the cars will show up. When the cars show up, the fans show up. And run the events in a respectful and professional manner. Don’t let the inmates run the joint. Like somebody said before, “Pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

    A few years ago, there was the Walter Reed VA Hospital scandal. Vets weren’t getting taken care of, it was just a mess of mismanagement. Some pols said the building needed to be torn down and rebuilt. How was tearing down and replacing a building going to fix mismanagement, corruption and incompetence?

  40. Having read everyone’s comments and the many valid points raised, here is what I’ve concluded.
    Thompson is a business. It has to make money to still be in business.Like any business if they are fiscally responsible they pay attention to what makes money and they cut their losses where they don’t. They dont make money on a weekly racing series because so few attend. Why people dont go anymore like they used to is not a unique problem to Thompson. The older people like me who used to go every week just cant anymore for a variety of reasons and the younger people just dont have the interest. The youger crowd does however like driving their cars on the road course, trying out a modified at a driving school or drifting, and Thompson is smart enough to see that is where they will draw people and profits from going forward. The big events where the fans are immersed in an “experience” which bookends Thompson’s season are the only events that create that experience and are worth the travel distance and ticket price for the fans and worth the resulting financial gain to the business. That is the new nornal both for racing as a spectator sport and for a race track as a business. Thompson made a business decision. Those of us that see the writing on the wall for the future of weekly racing don’t like it becuase it shines a bright light on what we live in denial of, that is the ongoing inevitable contraction of weekly racing events. Many seemed to have reacted emotionally to the messaging. I don’t Facebook so I guess I have missed the worst of it. But if you can, try to look at it from a different angle. As racers and fans we were told what to expect months in advance of next racing season. We now have time to make choices. The message was candid and clear right down to the posting of the purse structure. Read into it what you will, but if you race at Thompson you now know you will do so mostly out of your own pocket. The choice is yours. Load up or don’t. As a fan you are probalby not going to see more than 15 cars in any divison. If that appeals to you, you will be there, if not you won’t. Pretty simple to me without all the drama. And isn’t that better than what Waterford’s been doing – yanking our chain announcing races that will never happen and otherwise being radio silent and totally non- communicative? I say enjoy whatever racing you can now because the sport’s contraction on a weekly basis will continue if it stays on the path it is currently on. Be happy with the tracks that are doing what they can to keep the gates open for the races they can run and stil make money doing it because as we have witnesssed in our own back yard over time, that is not always the case .

  41. Is anyone sure what is making money.?Usually a golf course is a loosing investment. Road Course seems to be getting a little less play time, and it seems the car shows(imports)/days are attended by fewer. I do not think any of us know what is really going on. Other than what is published. And most of there activities are dictated by weather, other than clubhouse activities.

  42. Boy Ed P, well said.

  43. Shawn, please tell me I am wrong. I am wrong about advertising. Wrong about not having consistent dates and times like other tracks. Wrong about Golf courses being a generally losing proposition. Wrong about most of their days being weather reliant. Wrong about track days on the Road course. Please tell me I am wrong!

  44. Best response that I have seen.

  45. Not going to happen. Got it. It is fine. Do not bother posting. It is what it is.

  46. All this talk about golf courses losing money. In what reality are you talking about? There are lots and lots of golf courses, very old golf courses. I doubt all those golf courses have been losing money for decades. I have never seen a golf course go out of business and the land redeveloped. I see more ads for golf courses than I do for local short tracks. I never see ads for local short tracks outside of the industry media sites.

  47. Golf, sheesh. That could be a whole other forum full of emotion were this a golfing site. No one can know about Thompson’s course but Kayman is not wrong about golf in general. Type in “golf gaining or losing popularity” in a search engine and much of the response sounds like racing.
    I too want to give Ed P an atta boy for his outstanding comment but also want to say why. First it’s a voice unlike many of us that is fresh. Well mannered, respectful, well written, knew the topic and loaded with common sense. No chips, no grudges, realistically supportive……well done.

  48. Well, they are all interconnected. I agree the race track loses money when they run the Weekly Racing Series. They do not try to fix it. I do not want to try to fix their problems. Not my pay grade. If you guys fixate on golf, then you are more ignorant than I am. They have issues there weekly. But they haven’t race weekly for years. And I suspect that is the problem.

  49. Racing during the week is terrible, People have to go to work the next day. getting out at 930 or 1000 p.m. and then having to drive 1-2 hrs. home is brutal. HEY, why not try Saturday nights!!! Sunday also is tuff, because once again, Monday morning comes early for most fans who work. This is all working in Stafford’s favor. there sk and sk lites have 45 + cars on their roster, gotta love it! BUY THOMPSON!

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