Thompson Speedway Competitors Group Looking To Raise Purses, Work With Management

Brad Martel (Photo: Courtesy Brad Martel)

When news broke among Thompson Speedway competitors on Dec. 27 that track management would be cutting purses for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions by 75 percent for the 2020 season, the reaction for many was of anger and disbelief. 

Brad Martel, a crew member with a longtime Late Model team at the track track, decided that instead of individuals venting, it was time for competitors to organize and try to help themselves. 

Martel, who works on the Late Model team owned by Jeff Hartwell with driver Woody Pitkat, was part of arranging a meeting with competitors not long after the announcement. 

“The information got published by the track … and my car owner kind of reached out to me and said ‘This isn’t looking good, what are we going to do?’ I know a lot of people in racing, either from the track or working on prior cars before I was with Hartwell. And I don’t think anybody wants to see us not race at the [oval] track. … So after a couple of days of the ‘What do we do’s?’ I figured I’d pick up the phone and see if we could get somewhere.”

Martel’s initial philosophy was that competitors working cooperatively with the track to improve issues was better than just venting anger at management.  

“What the letter said and what the message needed to be, there may have been some gaps in between,” Martel said. “I took a hard look at it and thought ‘What is the real message here? Is it really what’s in black and white or is there more to the story?’ I reached out to [Jon Hoenig] and I said ‘I’m not a guy that’s looking to throw stones at you. I’d like to have a conversation, I’d like to have some constructive conversations, if you’re willing to listen.’ I said ‘Maybe there’s something that we can all work out to make this work for everybody.’” 

Martel said 21 people attended the first meeting held with a follow-up meeting attended by 47 people. 

“At that point I said ‘Let’s have some divisional meetings.’” Martel said. “All the different divisions are in a different economical climate. What Mini Stock guys think will work doesn’t necessarily carry over to the [SK Modified] guys. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing. 

“I’m doing this because I want the racers’ voice to be one voice and we need to know what that voice sounds like so we can have constructive conversations with the track. I don’t promise to anybody that I can make anything happen. I just say ‘Look, I hear what’s being said, I’ll take your biggest axes to grind back to the track and see where can we haggle or barter to get there.’” 

Martel said a major part of the meetings has been creating a plan where each division as a whole can work to increase purses through finding sponsors to supplement what the track is already paying. 

“A couple of the divisions are saying ‘Maybe we can make the purse structure better by going out and reaching out to some of the contacts that we have to do that.’” Martel said. “I’m not saying that all the divisions are on board with that, but some of them are. 

“The message that I start with is that we essentially have three options. We can not race at Thompson Speedway. We can race for the purses that are offered and the conditions that are offered. Or we can opt to make it better. How we can make it better is however these guys decide to do so. That’s what I kind of keep going back to with folks.”

Martel said the cooperation from track management has been positive. 

“I think it’s just going to be making sure that we have a structured plan to move forward so that it doesn’t become a folly,” Martel said “I think the engagement is good for the most part as far as racers being interested in what’s going on.” 

Thompson Speedway general manager Terry Eames has met multiple times in recent weeks with Martel and track management is on board with working the organized group of competitors. 

Historically in stock car racing organized competitor groups have been looked at negatively in most cases by groups overseeing events. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. fought mightily against any sort of organization by competitors in the burgeoning years of the sanction. But recently the top of the sport has seen owner/competitors organization as a positive. NASCAR works together at the top levels with the Race Team Alliance, which is a not for profit group organized by top-level team owners. 

“NASCAR is very comfortable in engaging with the teams via the RTA,” Eames said. “I think similarly it’s a different age. We’re asking these racers to understand that the math has to change to keep oval track racing alive. I think we’d be foolish to rebuff them just because they’ve organized. Why should we be afraid of it? So far it brings nothing but positive to us.” 

Eames said is on board with the plan for divisions working to increase their purses through support they find on their own. Eames said the track would also be on board in modifying the purse structure currently being offered by the track, which will pay the top-10 finishers in divisional events at the track. 

“It’s not going to go into a general fund,” Eames said. “If the Mini Stocks are really good salesmen and they raise $10,000, that $10,000 will go to their purse. We have expressed that if they want to spread the money that we’re offering in purses around differently and we’re convinced that they’re all on board, it doesn’t matter to us if we pay to 15th or 20th. It’s up to the racers.” 

Said Martel: “Going forward I think a big part of it is that we as racers, we need to feel that there’s a partnership between the speedway and the racers. That’s what I’m trying to do. Can we get enough people to work together rather than have the ‘Us against them’ attitude.”




Do you enjoy what you’re reading and seeing here at RaceDayCT? Would you like to see continued coverage of New England short track racing? Your support can help ensure that professional coverage of short track racing can continue at RaceDayCT, and you can get some great rewards for that support. Patreon allows readers to make small monthly contributions to RaceDayCT that support the ongoing coverage of short track racing. Your pledge comes with exclusive tiered reward programs for offering that support. For just a $5 a month pledge fans can have access to the weekly Unmuffled podcast. For more information click the link here.


Comments

  1. THANKS Brad Martel for organizing this and trying to make it all work out !!!!! We the people (racers and fans) must be heard.

  2. Fools! All of you! The track with the highest ticket prices in the land just got the racers to pay for their own purse and do all the work that goes into that while ownership sits back and counts the money. This here is the real death of short track racing. I take back my previous comments of a few weeks ago. Little Johnny is a genius.

    I have now seen it all. Unbelievable.

  3. Fast Eddie says

    Mr. Martel, you have just become the patron saint of Thompson Speedway!! Whether it works or not and to what degree, THANK-YOU for stepping up and organizing the racers to be the “Thompson Oval Track Marketing Department”!! Thompson should have you on the payroll as the marketing manager to thank you for doing the job that present track management SHOULD be doing!!
    By the way, TOTMD… Maybe an idea for a decal that people can buy to raise money for the purses? I’m just a fan, But I’d be happy to pay $5.00 each for a couple!

  4. wmass01013 says

    Well while I agree that yelling and screaming at the Hoenigs will not change anything, and if the teams want to do the tracks JOB and get $$$ to race its their option but it wont work Long term, maybe for this year, sure meetings with management might help but will the fans show up to watch 3 or 4 NON special events anymore now than the last few years? I certainly WILL NOT SUPPORT THOMPSON pulling this kind of BS, to me with the SPECIAL events they have now, added to the sponsors the track already has, SHOULD make the track $$$ AND IF THEY NEED MORE then u do things to get more sponsors and make people want to attend races at Thompson NOT CUT PURSES AND BLAME NASCAR AND THE TREND OF RACING IN GENERAL!!!
    YOU WANT TEAMS TO RACE FOR PEANUTS AND U WANT THEM TO BUY AND MAKE THE PEANUTS AS WELL???

  5. What JD said. The track is saying if you wanna play on my track, raise your own damn purses. Don’t be surprised if the track then also demands a cut of the sponsorship money the racers raise. The track has been the one promoting the events, getting the sponsorship. Now, the track wants nothing to do with that part of THIER DAMN JOB, and simply leave it to the racers or they don’t have a place to race. The track just reduced it’s expenses and costs, and pushed it’s job off on others.

    Not cool.

  6. Late model says

    If you had any idea what is going on, it’s supporting the racers not the track. But I forgot you must be just a fan

  7. Ron Rumrill says

    Great job Brad! I applaud you for trying to save oval track racing in Thompson. I love that track but find it unfortunate that race teams have to race less races, race mostly during the week which means taking more time off from work, settle for greatly reduced purses and now they may have to approach sponsors so they can try to get paid a fair purse for placing in the race. I don’t think this is a long term solution but maybe we can get one more season in Thompson. I just don’t understand why other area tracks are doing so well and Thompson can’t? Good luck Brad & thanks for going forward with this!

  8. Super duper shine says

    I’m curious to know how many cars they actually got registrations for for each division before the deadline. Shawn any way you can find that out? So this is a bandaid for this year. What happens going forward?

  9. “Just a fan” he says. Ouch. Or put another way what there was not enough of that caused this problem in the first place.
    Everybody is right. If you have a car and want to race its noble, How is being pro active and finding answers anything but admirable.
    The naysayers are right as well. In the long run it’s not sustainable and doesn’t solve the problem of empty seats for none NWMT shows.
    It is impressive no matter what the future holds.

  10. Late Model says

    It’s not about the track filling the stands anymore. It’s about the fans understanding that the money is going to the racers. We all need the support to keep the cars on the track.

  11. It is great that the teams are trying to help, I only hope that the track does not try to get in the middle of it and take a cut or be sneaky. As long as everything is done with a lawyer to protect the racers things should work. But the big question is what happens in the future?

  12. I guess I am confused, rather than the track doing their job finding sponsors for the races now the competitors have to do it? New business model I guess. And mean while the admission and concession prices remain the same?

    How about since Hoosier is the tire of choice according to the rules dictated by the track, Hoosier donates $5 for every tire sold to the purse. And since SUNOCO is the fuel of choice as dictated by the track, how about SUNOCO donates $1 per gallon of fuel sold to the purse. And if they don’t want to then talk to another fuel and tire manufacturer about the same deal.

    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  13. Todd Carey says

    Wow if Thompson pulls this off they are the smartest short track around. The racers already pay the purse by the pit fees. Basically these drivers are going to be doing the same exact thing the racers on the road course are doing. Renting the track. Thompson has hit a HR if this works out. Only problem I see, there will even be less people in the stands.

  14. Old Observer says

    Earl, I’m pretty sure Hoosier & Sunoco are already contributing $$$ to point fund, etc.
    Todd Carey, I was about to say something similar, it works for the road course so why not try it for the oval, good business management.
    Brad Martel, Thank you for trying to keep our beloved Thompson oval track alive!!! I hope we keep racing there for decades.

  15. Who said anything about a point fund? Do you really think if the purse is reduced by 75% and they are only paying the top 10 there is going to be a point fund? You are as naive as the rest of them!

  16. I agree with what Todd Carey said. Is it right? HELL NO! The racers already pay most of the purse with their pit fee. What’s lost here, is that the racers ARE THE SHOW. Without racers, no show, period. Thompson’s management has some big balls to do this to the people who, up till recently paid their paychecks.
    On the other hand, it looks like enough racers replied to the track that they would run the six race season, which makes them totally insane. I know you’ll never make money racing, but these fools are losing money before they ever turn a lap.
    I was looking forward to going to races there, but now no way. I cannot, and will not support a track that doesn’t support it’s racers, and seems to not want them there at all. Hopefully others join me (don’t worry it won’t affect the racers purse, only the profits the management makes) Just my opinion.

  17. …And if your worried that there won’t be racing on the oval in 2021…Don’t… Chances are there won’t be. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they cut the schedule back to the three races that the tour is there this year.

  18. Coupes4ever says

    It’s the way of the world today. You either go with it and try your best to supplement it or lose it. Many car/home/legal advice radio programs that you listen to on AM/FM stations are actually only on because the folks involved with the shows either pay for the time themselves or go out and get their own sponsors. I believe there are still enough folks in business who love oval racing to help supplement these purses and support the owners and drivers. Let’s see.

  19. Well intentioned and I appreciate the effort to organize racers for one voice, but this whole thing with Thompson feels like being forced into the self checkout lane and having to bag your own groceries…. gezzzh..

    After paying $50 something bucks last year for the Bud 150 on a weeknight (a screwing), I’m afraid I won’t be going back anytime soon (and I love going to Thompson).. a shame and a sham..

  20. For the life of me I’m not sure why these drivers are so adverse to going to Stafford or Seekonk and get paid a fair purse. It’s like they are going out of their way to get the beating from Thompson. You won’t see my butt there this year.

    MRS announced two races at Thompson. If I owned an SK, I would run the MRS race instead of the SK feature and get paid for those two weekends. I know the rules are way different and you won’t win but it sends a message.

    Are pit fees being reduced??

    I would also be interested in what other drivers from other tracks think about this. My guess is they are all praying it doesn’t work or everyone will be racing for pennies on the dollar moving forward. This really could be the end of short track racing around here. Anyone who thinks this is a good thing is sadly mistaken.

  21. Waterford, here is your golden opportunity to capitalize on a gigantic blunder and reap the benefits of gaining some serious revenue. Wake up, smell the roses, bottom of the 9th and time for the grand slam!

  22. What Brad Martel is doing, going from observer to revolutionary requires grit and determination. Throw in courage, and the wherewithal to stand grounded with some new ideas and passion for racing is to be respected. This also requires a person to pronounce what they believe, and then ask others to join in, which he has done. So all of us need to suit up join in and prepare for whatever gets thrown our way (because believe me, something will).
    Lastly… It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are , indeed, part of the problem. Just my opinion…with some things thrown in I have heard in my travels and experience from folks I have admired, respected and listened. See you all at the track.

  23. Isn’t it nice of the speedway not to raise ticket prices.I will never step foot in there again.

  24. I have supported Thompson for over 40 years but this situation still reeks of greed by the track owners. They have become spoiled by the road course and not having to pay a purse. I congratulate those racers that are meeting to find sponsors to improve the reduced purses. I feel that a good majority of these racers, that want to negotiate, compete with cars that do not meet the rules of the other local tracks. More purse sponsorship this is something that track management should have been doing all along Even if they succeed I think mostly all of the weekly car counts will drop severely. Lets see how that effects their money making tour show that are supplemented by a bunch of races with very short fields. Who will want to sit through two day shows and pay the highest ticket prices on the tour to watch? Not to mention the early season test days when they charge for a pit pass, but there is no purse to pay. If weekly racing was such a losing deal I can understand reducing their number to 3. Reducing their purse by 75% seems like spitting on those that have supported your place of business. This move will cause many to stay away and go to other tracks in the coming seasons. Other local race tracks are successful and pay the same purse or more. The Hoenig family owns the track and makes the decisions but I can see this leading to the end of the Big T oval racing. Losing decades of fans and racers over 3 weekly shows. Was it worth it ???

  25. Earl, Waterford more than likely will follow Thompson’s lead now. They are in the same boat. They have some cars, no fans and limited revenue. Zero revenue right now. Pandora’s Box has been opened. The ripple affects of this will be swift and dangerous.
    All I can do is support the tracks that pay their racers.

    Mr. Martel has accomplished nothing. To date, he has agreed to Thompson’s flogging and a whole bunch of extra work. The purses as of right now remain unchanged. They are still reduced 75%. I don’t see the visionary accomplishments others claim. I also agree Thompson will come looking for a % should the teams find sponsorship. The racers will give it to them too. The racers apparently are happy giving in to every demand.

  26. Unfortunately there are those who follow the tour to the ends of the Earth, therefore Thompson will most likely have a full house for their 3 tour dates. Too bad the tour officials won’t step up and cancel those shows. Any track that treats it’s weekly racers this way is not deserving of a tour show.
    Glad to see some people who won’t be attending, hope many more come forward in the near future. Although a boycott won’t save the weekly guys, it could hurt the bottom line for the track management. 2020 looks like the end, so screw it. Bankrupt them, at least it will provide reason for the closure.

  27. well, it seems to me as a fan, that nobody’s talking about the elephant in the room. Namely, that Thompson never drew a consistent crowd during the week. I’ve never been able to go to more than 1 or 2 events there for the past 20 years, yet i can get to Stafford 15 or more nights a season. that’s the reason that tour races work there, not lack of sponsorship, interest…. people generally have less spare time today, work later, etc. maybe the track needs to address the days that they operate, i don’t think things will change until / unless it does.

  28. wmass01013 says

    Rob p I cant speak for other WMT FOLLOWERS but as another 40 yr fan who has been I would say to over 100 of the 146 WMT races since 1985, and I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE THOMPSON, I WILL never step foot in the place again, I would go to Waterford with Bruce Bemer as owner before I would ever go back to a track that is doing what the HOENIGS are!!!!! I ALSO HOPE NASCAR TAKES AWAY THE 3 TOUR RACES FROM THOMPSON!!!!!!!!!

  29. Appears to me to be an effort this coming season by ownership to limit “competitor groups” .. ROC having issues upstate,, Stafford only supports its “open” competitions,, Thompsons limits schedules and purses… I find all of this a bit odd given present upswing of economic futures,, appears that ownership not seeing it,, or,, are we looking at some kind of consolidation effort ?? I guess time will tell..

  30. Fast Eddie says

    This is the epitome of “Damned if we do and damned if we don’t”. The best way to send a message to track management is to spend your money elsewhere. However, that will only accelerate the demise of oval racing at Thompson. The decision by racers to race there is obviously not going to send that message. I would be willing to bet any racer that agreed to run there has done so in part because they don’t want to lose another race track. As a fan, I will continue to go to Thompson in support of the racers who will run there because I do not want to lose another track either. If track management is only looking at profit, and it proves to be a decent season, maybe there will be a few more.

  31. Todd Carey says

    The bottom line is what can a lot of these owners and racers do? They are in a no win situation. They have invested all this money into a dying sport. If they don’t pay to race then their stuff just sits in the garage. The local short tracks have these guys by the balls. Its like pay to play youth sports today. All Town sports are crumbling so parents can pay thousands for the same sport they used to pay $40 for. The bottom is falling out like the housing market a few years ago. All these people paying huge money for their toys but cant even get half back. All these guys with newer Troyers just sitting and rotting because no one wants them. Its kinda crazy what it has become but no matter what anyone says, it will never go back to the way it was. Heck if you want to race, go get a go-kart and have a blast at Stafford on Monday nights.

  32. Thanks wmass, you get it.

  33. I realize the track should have and should be the one finding the sponsors to supplement the purse , but also these race team’s should have been getting sponsors to help there own team’s , what makes them think that now they can find sponsors to help with the purse or were they just as lazy as track management, can’t see this being a long term fix

  34. I’m just lucky I live near Stafford and it’s my home track. But if it had the problems the Speedbowl or Thompson has I’d still go to the races as long as there was good competition. I just don’t get the whole I’ll never go there again attitude that accelerates the demise of a track and says to competitors that we frequently say we support unconditionally….. screw you.

  35. Elect, doesn’t matter if you’ve got a hundred sponsors on your SK, your still only racing for $450 to win, and if you finish 11th, your screwed. Even if you win all 6 races it’s still only 2700. Two good nights at Stafford will get you close to that. What it comes down to is that the track don’t give a f**k about the racers who supported them for years, long before the road course was built.
    I’ve said before that 2020 looks to be the last season of racing on the oval. Don’t let them make any money, because they don’t give a f**k about you, they see a paycheck. NASCAR should step up and require tracks to hold a minimum number of events (12) to hold a sanction, and to get touring series races. This our way or no way thing is B.S. and I’d vote no way. Screw Thompson Speedway, and it’s management, not people I’d have as friends. Just my opinion. Glad to see people vowing not to attend, but unfortunately there will be those who continue to supplement the Management’s income. Sad people very sad.

  36. To All Leaving Comments,
    I’ve probably been a little soft of late on the vulgarity rules. Going forward we’re going back to the hard and fast old rules. No vulgarity and no cute little symbols communicating vulgarities. Comments will simply be deleted. As I’ve said for a long time, I encourage and open dialogue here and I’m pretty liberal about what’s said, but I’m not going to let it degenerate into a mess. I think if someone is adult enough to figure out how to leave a comment here they’re likely adult enough to communicate what they want to say without needing vulgarities to do it.

  37. wmass01013 says

    So Doug, 1st of all I think the TRACK is screwing the teams NOT THE FANS!
    So let me ask you?, the Night you went to Stafford and the line to enter was moving too slow because of credit card orders and you DECIDED to walk back to your car and go home, were you screwing the teams by NOT staying and giving STAFFORD your $$$?????
    We all make choices, I will give my $$$ to STAFFORD, MONADNOCK, SEEKONK, LEE, RIVERHEAD or any other track instead of 1 that charges the MOST $$$$ to enter and then says we are gonna cut purse by 75% or make the teams GET SPONSORS to pay the purse, I don’t wanna ANY track’s demise but I wont help the owners of THOMPSON SCREW the teams!!!

  38. Enough people have heard about this sham of a deal that Thompson is giving the racers. Even if Martel worked out something with the track, the soil has already been tainted. It’s crazy to think that the racers, who have a difficult time getting sponsors for their own race cars, now have to put more time into getting sponsors for the track? This is 100% backwards logic by the Thompson gestapo leadership no matter what sort of wrapper they put on it. No grassroots racer that works their tail off to just field a car should have to take more of their personal time to raise purse money that the track refuses chase down. The same way car owners chase down car sponsors, track owners should be doing their do diligence for track sponsors.

  39. In the absolute sense that’s a fair point wmass and I’d say a darned good debating point. Where it fails is context. Is one action on one night by one petulant fan equivalent to the complete abandonment of a facility by large numbers of previously loyal fans. . In the situation you brought up that was years ago I made my protest, sighted it here, made a comment of Facebook and sent Stafford and email then it was over and obviously I went back. Coincidence or not to a fully functioning cash window I might add.
    I’ll confess not understanding the degree of anger directed at a management simply trying to muddle it’s way through hard times. It’s not like they created the down turn in the sport. What’s puzzling is that your boycott includes the Ice Breaker and World Series. The regular races I get. Realistically what kind of car counts and crowd can they expect after all this negative press sinks in regardless of the noble effort by the participants. But the Ice Breaker and World Series? You’re boycotting the iconic bookends of Northeast racing. Seems like a throwing out the baby with the bathwater type of deal. Say it ain’t so?

  40. No you’re not liberal, I’ve left messages with no vulgarity and still haven’t been posted. Bottom line is that if it doesn’t line up with your story you don’t post it. Just say that…..

  41. I applaud the racers who try to get people to sponsor their division to increase the purse, maybe pay out more positions. At normal tracks sponsors pay contingensies, they don’t supplement the purse. I think what Thompson’s management did was wrong, first decreasing the number of races, then hitting the purse. You’ll never make money as an average racer, but you shouldn’t lose money before you ever turn a lap.

  42. The only saving grace here is that the track did inform the competitors beforehand. The racers were left to decide their own fate, and some chose to race, how many in each division remains to be seen. I still will not attend, and hope others don’t as well, because all it will do is line the pockets of the track management. Just my opinion.

  43. This is hilarious.

    Couple years ago, Bemer gets arrested and the bowl debacle goes off the charts. I explain what’s going to happen, and I get rather negative replies from the masses. By the way, things happened just as I predicted. The masses insisted that all talk about the bowl is negative and must stop. The masses insisted that it was imperative to attend and support the bowl. The track has been doing all it can to obfuscate the owner and his problems. It’s been hard to attend a track that hasn’t been open. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡

    Now we have Thompson, arguably the best all-around local track for modifieds, is making moves to cut back the oval program, and y’all are threatening to boycott the place. There must be piles of noses littering the floors of the shops to spite those dumbass ugly faces they were attached to.

    It’s all business, and Thompson has the leverage. They invested in the road course and it is working out. Thompson is no longer only an oval facility. Perhaps they saw the decline in oval racing participation and revenue, and decided to go after the wine 🍷 & cheese 🧀 road course crowd, and not depend on the burgers 🍔 and beer 🍺 🍻 oval track crowd. The automotive markets have evolved away from big V8 American muscle cars to the Euro and Asian sports cars. The big V8 American cars were all about horsepower, the Euro and Asian cars are about handling. Two very different markets. The American cars tried to participate in the TA genre but never really got the popularity over the Euro and Asian cars.

    Perhaps if the mighty mods tagged themselves as BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, etc. instead of Chevy and Dodge… 🤔 Splashed BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Audi decals on the cars. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

    Thompson is an awesome track for modifieds. But if oval track cars aren’t showing up in the numbers needed, what’s the track to do? If fans aren’t showing up in the numbers needed, what’s the track to do?

    Look at Riverhead. It has a WEEKLY Tour Type Modified series. That should have been happening at Thompson, along with Sunoco, SK and SK Lite type mods as undercards on a weekly basis. It is amazing that this thrives at Riverhead. Why isn’t it happening at Thompson?

    And perhaps we can work in some good ol’ big American V8 power shows with pit lane burnouts and mini-drags in pre-race/change over/intermission shows. Have static display public car shows before the event starts, and have a few cars selected to do the burnout and mini-drag shows. And most importantly, Thompson would have to advertise this. Look, there are already MANY cruise nights and car shows all throughout the season from Spring to Fall. And these groups are looking for places to gather. Thompson would be a great location. Mark’s is one of the largest and most popular car shows, with many smaller car shows throughout the state and region. Work with Mark’s to get the attention of cars that show up there to attend the Thompson events.

    Gotta get creative.

  44. If its so iconic how come you don’t attend the Icebreaker and WS? You calling out fans for not going is hypocritical. Also, if those events were iconic why are the purses reduced on those weekends? Ticket prices are still $55 plus. I foresee an iconic box office failure come April.

    I am looking forward to spending more time at Stafford this summer. I already tweaked the summer vacation schedule accordingly. Adios Thompson.

    Great post Lighthouse. You are 100% correct.

  45. I’m not calling out fans that are walking away from Thompson I simply said I don’t get it.
    The Icebreaker and World Series are iconic, are well attended and have a focus that transcends the weekly racing series with all due respect to those teams. It’s a NASCAR event featuring the premier modified teams with so many other divisions. It’s not a race date so much as a racing Hootanany. It’s too much racing for one brain to even grasp in it’s entirety. You can be a part of it but you cannot grasp all of it. It also is on NBCSC and is part of the new NBC Sports Gold track pass so people from all over the country can see it live as I plan on doing having purchased a membership.
    All I’m hoping for is that some folks will reconsider their position as time passes and the emotions of the moment start to fade. If you don’t want to go to the track fine but maybe consider purchasing a track pass and support the tour and track that way. If you hate Thompson’s management so much look at it as maintaining the integrity of the NWMT schedule.
    It would be nice for all the 6 races to be successes but failing that I should think the focus could be on saving the NWMT races.

  46. My response doesn’t have any vulgarity either and it didn’t get posted. ????????

  47. Rich Gourley says

    It’s been many decades of a god relationship with NASCAR, fans and competitors. The track has decided to put all their eggs in the road course basket and cast aside all the weekly racers that have supported the track/family for a generation. I’ve been to Thompson exactly one time. I’ve followed the modifieds up and down the east coast since the mid 80’s. I made a personal decision that what Thompson charges for WMNT races does not justify my attendance. I can see two ROC Tour races for the same amount and enjoy racing that’s just as competitive (and a hell of a lot closer to home). Thompson made a business decision a few years ago with regards to the road course and now they seem to be reaping the benefits/lack of benefits of that decision. Not really surprised this is how it would end.

  48. JimB,
    It’s not ONLY vulgarity that will get a comment tossed, there are in fact other reasons. One of those reasons is when someone comes on here making accusations about what someone said or did that are not known fact. Like “I heard Driver A say this about Driver B”. No, not playing that game here, and that’s why your last comment was no approved. Not going to post what you say you heard someone say. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m pretty liberal with the dialogue in this comments section, and those that say I don’t approve comments that disagree with my opinions obviously aren’t looking at the comments. I’m not going to let the comments section degenerate into unfounded accusations about people.

  49. I ask but 1 question; should any NASCAR sanctioned track be able to gut it’s weekly racing series, yet still host a NASCAR touring series event? We all know racing is a sport of ups and downs, but not that long ago Thompson had announced a possible increase in shows for 2020, only to gut the schedule and the purses. One thing I picked up on was Thompson’s reasoning was that the track would need an overhaul in the coming years. Nothing was said about car counts, or crowd sizes, which is thought in both cases were on the up. It seems to me that they just don’t want to be involved in oval track racing, if they need to invest money in it, and they would rather host track days to the Euro trash crowd. In any business the investment of money is inevitable, but they’d rather stuff their pockets as long as they can, and now that they’ll need to invest a little, close down. In the rental housing industry they’d be known as slum Lords. Don Hoenig must be rolling over in his grave right now, and rightfully so. For the first paved oval in America to close down rather than be repaved, shows the greed in ownership and management. So sad, anyways just my opinion.

  50. Rob P.,
    Don Hoenig is alive and attends pretty much every event at the track and can usually be found mingling with fans and competitors after events. He’s very much alive.

  51. My bad. But why hasn’t he stepped up to the plate? This whole thing is very very sad, as it looks as though new England will most likely lose yet another racetrack. But it seems this loss will be because of greed more than anything else. Thompson is said to be the oldest paved oval track in the U.S.A., a fact that management could easily promote, yet they seem to want the track to die. It just doesn’t make sense to me, and others. And if indeed 2020 is going to be the last season, why not go out on a positive note, that way if in the future it reopens racers will be willing to come back. With the current situation playing out it will be interesting to see how many cars actually show up. But, when your losing money before you even turn a lap, I’d find it hard to justify to a prospective sponsor, or even an existing one. My thought is that racers are hoping for low car counts in hopes of winning races, and a championship, which given the circumstances makes both pretty much meaningless. Very frustrating. Just my opinion.

  52. Rob P.,
    Who said 2020 was the last season? The management originally announced the changes to help deal with long term improvements needed. Not sure where you read/heard 2020 was the last season but it certainly wasn’t in any stories on this site.

  53. Ok Shawn if that is what you believe then do be it.

  54. Speaking of the World Series albeit not this season. Nascar Home Tracks has had the wrong race winner posted for three months. The 51 won the race, not Coby. The 2 obviously won the championship but someone with Nascar should fix that. It’s been bugging me since October. I thought they would have fixed it by now but nope.

  55. I can’t believe you people were behind supporting Waterford given the Bemer saga, yet y’all are packing up and not supporting Thompson. Thompson needs customers or the product you like will go away.

  56. Donald has nothing to do with the track anymore and hasn’t had anything to do with the track for at least 6 years. He is not to blamed for this and or have anything to do with these issues.

  57. LM,
    Yes, you are correct, Donald put Jonathan in control of operations back a few years ago.

  58. What I can’t get by is how you bring in a touring series and pay them the big bucks when parked in the pits at the same event you have the other divisions who support the track on a weekly bases and make them race for a reduced purse. Talk about the red headed bastard step child, how embarrassed can these competitors feel? And then they are going out to beg for race event sponsors using their own funds to do so? Then finding sponsors for their team to support them at a track with a reduced fan exposure? And you want me to support a track that does not support the competitors? I am going to have to sleep a few nights on that one.

    And to the comment “Thompson needs customers or the product you like will go away”. My answer to that is live by the sword, die by the sword.

  59. Shawn, the writing is on the wall. First they reduce the number of races to 6, after saying mid season last year that they would be expanding the schedule. Second they gut the purses, and are not even actively looking for sponsorship. And most of all they’ve stated that post 2020 the track would need to be repaved at a substantial cost. They’re too cheap to pay a fair purse, most of which comes from pit fee, what makes you think they’re gonna do the repave. Like I said the writing is on the wall in letters so bold even Stevie Wonder could read them. Also don’t forget their our way or no way attitude, not even willing to negotiate with the racers. I’d be willing to bet that if the NASCAR brass called and cancelled the 3 tour shows, that most likely 2019 would have been the last season. Just my opinion.

  60. To put it another way Shawn. I will be extremely surprised if there is a 2021 racing series at Thompson given the events of 5he last few months The only SCCA event I could find is slated for July, a two day event. But the SCCA guys pay an entry fee to cover their purses. The money they pay to get into the track goes to the track. Throw in a few track days (which I couldn’t find a schedule for) which have no purse, and the track makes serious coin. From a business point it makes sense to cater to the sports car crowd. I just cannot reason as to why they’re treating the oval guys this way, except to discourage them from racing there. Just my opinion. Hey Shawn, why don’t you ask the management the tough questions formed by what some of us have posted, and see if you can get some straight answers. You know there are allot of people trying to figure this all out. Help us out. Again just my opinion

  61. I wonder if Thompson ever considered putting modifieds and late models on the road course, or even some of the touring series. The NWMT used to run Watkins Glen, and it was cool watching the modifieds on the road coarse. That would be something that might go over big, and although I’ve vowed that I’d never go there again, I would to see that.

  62. So the weekly competitors race the ice breaker and World Series at a lower purse by 75% but the other 5 or so divisions (Mod Tour, Supers, Midgets, Act, Pass, MRS) race for same purse as last year???? Makes a lot of sense…

  63. A pit lizard bystander’s perspective…

    1 – You can support Brad, as a competitor or fan, packing the entry lists and stands. The year is successful, there’s fodder to renegotiate purses next year based on actual profitability to the track. Racers and fans will continue to have something to enjoy.

    2 – You can boycott the place. It loses even more money, the coffin is nailed shut, it’s gone forever.

    Hats off to Brad for making a real effort. I’ll buy grandstand tickets even if I can’t make the race. That way, there still might be a place for me to go when I can make the race and see Brad and his associates.

    From a business perspective, if division A is supporting division B and you can’t map a clear path to profitability, you close division B… At least there’s been a warning shot here.

  64. Step 1: Cut the size of the oval track down to a third or quarter mile and you’ll attract fans again because fans like fender banging action not boring cars going in a line
    Step 2: run on saturday nites and it will be waaay easier for teams and fans to get down to thompson
    Step 3: run a STOCK ONLY 4cyl class so joe six pack can afford to try out racing (see monadnock pure stocks as a guide) without spending 5-10 g’s just to go racing. Listen to Dareal he’s been banging the drum on today’s kids not being into 8cyl cars and he’s not wrong.

  65. TJ, seps 2 and 3 both great ideas. Step 1 however, would cost allot of money by the track who have stated in a round about way that they aren’t even willing to repave the existing surface. Like your enthusiasm though.

  66. Steve, to answer your question, yes. However there is no ACT, PASS or Supers at the Icebreaker this year. MRS will be there.

    Barry, nobody said anyone is losing money here. Different levels of profit margins is the debate. Secondly, from a casual fan standpoint, if someone didn’t attend a weekly boring show last year what is going to make them attend a weekly boring show this year? Your pack the stands theory is a pipedream given the track did nothing to spice up those events.

  67. Fast Eddie says

    If they were really interested in keeping the oval alive, they might try adding a touring series to each of the regular shows, and charge a REASONABLE ticket price, they would at least add people that follow that particular series to the stands and concession lines.

  68. Bill Realist says

    Concessions will be pot-luck this year. Divisions will rotate duties. Wives and girlfriends of drivers will bake cookies and bring crock pots full of various things.

  69. I bring a cooler with provisions. Healthier and far less costly. Munch after I park. Been doing it for years.

  70. They should have just pooled their money and put it into Powerball tickets. Then they could have a chance to buy the whole operation. They are just putting off the inevitable at this point. The powers that be do not want this to work out. When are they racing? I think Sunday’s? But who knows. If a show gets rained out, know one will no when the rain date is. They have their fingers crossed for rain, I am assuming…

  71. Oh, I get it Wednesday Nights. I guess they could have put the races on a Monday morning.

  72. Hillary 2020 says

    Step 1. Dumb idea and never gonna happen. They can’t even “afford” to repave the current track. Step 2. Another dumb idea. You got two other tracks that run on Saturday and that also have drivers that race at Thompson. Plus one is a Nascar track. And let’s not forget one other minor detai. Weekends are for the road course. And just about every other day of the week. Step 3. Nobody wants to see an X car type division at Thompson. Leave that for the short tracks. Here’s another step. 4, dafella and everybody else giving out ideas on how to make the Thompson oval great again. Unless the owners and Eames ect. are complete morons, they know what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is destroying the oval so that it will fail. It already has really. It’s not rocket science. It’s the road course dummies.

  73. knuckles Mahoney says

    There were never fans during the midweek non WMT shows. But, anyone who races cars has to really have their head examined, if only looking at it financially. It’s financial suicide. When I was racing motorcycles, you actually got paid good money, of course you had to have talent to be at the highest level, unlike racing a car. You could make 2k to 3k on a weekend, and only paid 35 dollars per class you entered, and another 20 dollars in fuel. Tires, fuel, wear and tear on a car, refresh the motor, you kidding me. I could get a new bike for less than a refresh of an SK motor, and make big money off it before I sold it. I was tracking my sports car at Thompson on occasion, but that’s gonna stop. What the teams should do is come together as one group, not race there, and have the WMT as on division of racing for the night and see how that goes.

  74. “And what they’re doing is destroying the oval so that it will fail. It already has really. It’s not rocket science. It’s the road course dummies.”

    Yup… They only way to save the oval is to make it return the same profit margins to promoters and track owners as the road course. Money talks and BS walks…

    That may or may not be possible as the upper levels of oval racing go out of style, but it’s worth trying to save. Oval racing might end up like Wild Thing Karts, motocross, or radio control racing some day. Club racing, fun to participate in, but little interest from outside. Motorsport is subject to the same fashion sense and style as any other sport. You’re in or you’re out…

    The key to future success is attracting young folks, as both fans and participants. Modern road course cars resemble daily drivers, just like stock cars did in the 60’s to 80’s when based on muscle cars. Today, road course cars are based on typical street cars in the lower classes and aspirational cars in the upper.

    Oval racing needs to find a hook into younger generations. This might be an angle of “these are nothing like the street”, ala Indycar, IMSA prototypes, or F1, or some sort of irrestable and exciting to watch competition with cars similar to the parking lot.

  75. In the Northeast Modifieds were king then and now. Before then cutdowns and midgets. Nothing resembling a car you could buy at a dealership. Big crowds. Sorry, but do you want cars that resemble what is on the road or not? Do you think people that are not interested in oval racing will show up either way? People are into what they are into. You have to get non fans into seats. Low price, big personalities, great action. You can make fans if you have those attributes. Cars don’t matter. Controversy, action, speed, and a great show matter. And you really need to be consistent. Stafford has it nailed. And you need to hear the announcers from time to time. PA system at Thompson is straight out of 1944.

  76. Hillary 2020, Thompson was repaved fairly recently. That track needs no new pavement. No complaints that I have heard. Again, I think it was repaved around 1972. Again around 2003. If I recall, it was repaved by a company that was experienced in repaving ovals. They put a good foundation down. I know for a fact Stafford was repaved a few years before Thompson.

  77. Only the corners were repaved in ’03. It was done by Palmer pacing, the same company that repaved Stafford.

  78. make racing great again ! lower speeds ~harder tire compound ~maybe some diffirent body styles. follow the leader racing sucks! pulling your credit card out of your wallet to buy what everyone else has,makes for boreing racing

  79. Fast Eddie says

    A study in contrasts: Stafford is doing well and continuing to set the bar for New England racing. TriTrack is expanding and adding sponsorship. And Thompson is doing “Woe is NACAR, woe is us, we can’t afford to pay you.” I hope the racers find a way to make this work and prove to Thompson that it really can, BUT THOMPSON MANAGEMENT NEEDS TO WORK AT IT TOO!!!

  80. The exit of T2 has more waves than the North Atlantic in a hurricane. I get seasick watching the cars bobbing and bouncing as they exit. Then there’s the hole entering T3 and you can hear the tin bottom as each car goes through it.

    Just watch the videos that are out there… you can see the suspension working hard as the cars ride the waves and bumps.

  81. We tend to focus on the difference in car body styles. Younger folks not relating to what they see on the track. Could it be it’s not about that at all. It’s about participation. Karts have no problem getting kids involved. They get older where do they go? We know some go to circle track. What we don’t know is how many can’t afford that and go onto do autocross and track days maybe at Thompson ironically. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the marbles. Or perhaps they just stay in the Pro II Modified Karts. Those are serious and more affordable machines.
    We grew up mostly as sedentary observers. Perhaps the younger set simply favor active participation in a car or video or at the year round karting tracks that are everywhere.
    Since the beginning of time the older set has always devalued younger people for not sharing the same interests or values or whatever. It’s never valid. Maybe as far as racing goes watching just is not a good value for them. Maybe later when they get more sedentary but for now they just want to participate.

  82. “Since the beginning of time the older set has always devalued younger people for not sharing the same interests or values or whatever. It’s never valid.”

    There is something to style and taste, though… Some generations simply lose interest in certain activities.

    It’s worth nothing that the guitar industry is also actively fighting to prevent their market base from aging into oblivion. During the peak of local racing, you could trip and land in a local venue featuring live music, usually guitar based. Today, if you can find a local live band, there’s a great chance the band and audience will have gray hair.

  83. I am not as old as I sound. The bump in turn two has been there forever. If you watched races there 20yrs ago, this bump would be minimal. And quite frankly, have not been on the track in a while, but, the front straightaway had cracks you could see from the stands. And I sit way back. Doug has a valid point. Go carts lead to other things. I grew up watching my brother race go-carts. Races with Christopher’s, Gunning, Chuck Docherty, Willie Hardie, and Richie Gallup. Good times.

  84. So, I have not stepped foot on the track in years. But the must have filled in the cracks. You could be right, they did fix the bump in 2. Maybe coming back. Doug is not wrong about Carts. Watched my brother race Willie Hardie, Richie Gallup, Bo Gunning, Chuck Docherty, and Ted & Mike Christopher and the Tiezzies. Darryl had the hot ticket 35 yrs ago after the former were looking forward.

  85. Go-carts are dying too. They used to get big numbers in carts at say a place like Pomfret. Woodstock Fair carts are gone. Get 5 to 10 a division. You could have doubled or tripled that 40yrs ago.

  86. It’s funny, year to year the cup drivers are asked about worn out bumpy racetracks, and most guys say leave them alone. A Racetrack is not supposed to be silky smooth, bumps and cracks add character. But, holes in the surface present problems especially with the low slung modifieds, and therefore become a safety concern. As far as the bump exiting turn 2 at Thompson, it dates back to when there used to be sand banks in 1 and 2. My uncle races his modified there in 1978, and the bump was there then. When they repaved the corners a few years back, they stopped short of where the bump is. And if you take the correct line off the corner, there’s no avoiding it

  87. You guys do realize that what your saying in this post shows how little you actually know about youth racing in CT. They race quarter midgets right there at Thompson that seem to attract a good number of competitors. Seems to me that Thompson is sort of a super speedway of sorts as far as short track racing. I’m not saying some drivers don’t go straight to racing big cars on Thompson’s high banks,high speed track cause they do but most try a little slower track as seekonk or Waterford a few years back. Thompson simply doesn’t really have a “slower division” such as Bando’s, legend’s or even a beginner 4cyl. division for say 18 and under or something. It’s that gap that hurts Thompson’s draw from youth racing. Go to seekonk on Friday night and watch all the kids under 18 driving cars on that track. I got a hint for ya it’s alot. My point is youth racing is not at the point of producing local racers your just looking in the wrong spots.

  88. Yeah there is a quarter midget track there. They have $200,000 trailers there also. I really think you are assuming all drivers there are local. Some are the ones that will be renting Lamborghini’s in 10 yrs. assuming apparently they repave the straightaways. Because that is probably correct. And turns 1&2 will be neglected. Because that is where 5/8ths of the would be paving would be. Get it 5/8ths. Get how much of the oval has to be repaved to get the road course up to code? Get how many golfers were there the 11th and 12th to pay for the month? You all get it?

  89. I think they repaved the dip on the inside of turn 2. It has come back and is a problem below the surface. No need to worry, because it won’t be used soon. Because the entry of the road coarse, right before turn 1 and the exit from the oval, right before turn 2, is nothing compared to the rest of the oval… Oh my golly…

  90. wmass01013 says

    $55 gen admission to ICEBREAKER AND WORLD SERIES
    $50 for WED AUG. WMT SHOW
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO THANKS THOMPSON

  91. Wmass, if those are the prices, considering the Icebreaker is a two day event and the World Series a three day event, $50 and $55 isn’t all that bad for the amount of racing they will have. I still think they would get more people in if they offered maybe a $25-$30 ticket for Saturday and a $35-$40 ticket for Sunday. Everyone can’t go for all days of the event and a one day option might get them there. “Better 1/2 of something than all of nothing.” $50 for a single evening event is definitely too much!! I’d bet $35-$40 would get a lot more to go.

  92. wmass01013 says

    Well Eddie I have seen that comment made several times BUT Stafford’s Sizzler and Fall Final are 2 days shows and $40 AND $35! I don’t know why any ct tracks never offer the 1 day prices for big races, my guess they never will, so Thompson will have there BIG SHOWS, charge for camper parking, get 8,000 to 10,0000 or more people in front and back gates at $55 to $75 each, sell lots of hot dogs, pizza and grinders and loads of BEER, a good amount of T shirts and sweat shirts, tell us how BUD , FOXWOODS, SUNOCO and king Cadillac sponsor the track and don’t forget to go to the clubhouse for Breakfast Buffet or Dinner after the races, BUT OH YEAH we have to cut the PAYOUT 75% AND ONLY PAY TOP 10. not such a GOOD DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  93. crazylarry says

    Camping TBA !!! Not good $50.00 now for zero I bet a lot less campers this year if it go up! $25.00 for one nite show sucks ,No thanks not me camp up the hill for $17.00 with dump , showers an water included Really Thompson not fan friendly are you .

  94. Fast Eddie says

    Wmass, the big difference with the Sizzler & Fall Final vs. the Icebreaker & World Series is the amount of touring divisions in addition to the 4 division of weekly racers. Stafford brings in one touring type series at their big events. Thompson with 5 weekly divisions has 4 tours for the icebreaker and 9-10 tours for the World Series. On both weekends the MRS runs Saturday. Usually I’m paying $30-$35 to see them at other tracks. Take that off the weekend ticket and you’re seeing Sunday for $25.
    I know their camper fees have turned some people away, and that’s not one ticket, that is groups of tickets. However, their “higher then anyone else” prices have me all the more aggravated that Thompson has decided to not pay the weekly divisions properly. They should at least pay them right on the big ticket weekends, when they HAVE to be making big money themselves.
    The last two 2-day events I saw at the Speedbowl seemed to be trying out the single day tickets, which worked well for me as it’s too far for me to go both days. It was nice not paying for a two day ticket to go for only one day. Star also has a separate Friday ticket for their ISMA weekend.

  95. Pete Newth says

    I have no skin in the game, haven’t been to a race in 10yrs, that being said….you all understand the monetary commitment made by the track to get it in a place where it is. I don’t have to go to the track to know attendance is waaaay off.
    It takes a true visionary to rise above all of the negativity to try and find a common ground. Whether it’s right or wrong , I commend Brad for his decision. Times they are achanging, and the ways of doing things are as well.
    Before you fly off of the handle and get pissed off and kneejerk react, hear Brad out, have a discussion. Your options may be pack your crap and find a new unbelievably expensive hobby. I’d hate to think people can’t come together on a pastime where you should be friends in the pits and adversaries on the track.Rise up and work together !!!

Speak Your Mind

*

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing