Q&A: Josh Vanada On Reentering The Local Racing Scene As A Whelen Mod Tour Event Promoter

Josh Vanada (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

It was announced Tuesday that former Thompson Speedway general manager Josh Vanada will be the promoter for three of the 14 events on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2021 through his company JDV Promotions.

Vanada will be behind putting on events at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway, (May 29), Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway (June 12) and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. (Aug. 21).

Vanada served as general manager of Thompson Speedway from 2013 to 2018. After leaving Thompson Vanada introduced a 3-event Type Open Modified series called the Bullring Bash for the 2019 season. The series ended up putting on one event at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. before folding.

Wednesday we spoke to Vanada about his return to the local racing scene in 2021. 

Question: How did this come about that you’re doing this? 

Vanada: So I wanted to do my own races with the [Whelen] Modified Tour. Obviously I tried the Bullring thing and I didn’t want to expose myself to that again. So I decided to do something that was – in my opinion – a sure bet that I’ve done before. So I went out to see if there was some tracks that were interested and I found some and made a deal. 

Question: What’s are you doing that’s different than if the track was traditionally hosting the event themselves? 

Vanada: Absorbing risk basically. I’m leasing the tracks. All three venues are leased by me. 

Question: Do you have financial backers backing you financially on all this? 

Vanada: I don’t think that’s relevant. I will tell you that part of the process to be able to get a Whelen Modified Tour sanction is their financial investigation. Maybe investigation is not the right word, a [financial] check. 

Question: There’s some people that think this is really NASCAR leasing the tracks and putting you out in front as the promoter. Is there anything to that?

Vanada: No. I would actually comment that that’s laughable. 

Question: So what you’re doing is 100 percent independent of having any financial interlocking with NASCAR? 

Vanada: NASCAR has given me no money. I sent them checks for the sanctioning agreement down payments. 

Question: For each track, why was that a place where you landed? 

Vanada: I think Jennerstown is a good venue in general. I think they did a good job with what they had last year. [General manager Bill Hribar] was somebody that was willing to listen to what I had to say. They have a really cool GM there, Bill Hribar. … He was really cool. I think he was very like minded to where we are and he has a vision for these types of races that I have. They were interested in my experience level in promoting these types of races. With Oswego, I think Oswego in a lot of ways is much like Thompson. It has a ton of history. Similar track distance. So I think that just made good sense. Again, they had some interest in my background in promoting these races. And Beech Ridge was a track that I personally thought would be fitting. I thought that they should be on the [Whelen Modified] Tour schedule for a while. I think it’s a really cool venue. It’s easy to access. There’s actually, in Southern Maine, a really interested Modified contingent there. We’ve got some great response actually out of the Beech Ridge race. That’s kind of how it all came about. 

Question: Cris Michaud and Tom Mayberry have announced their plans for the Thompson Speedway oval for 2021. Was Thompson a place you reached out to for possibly doing something in addition to what they’re doing? 

Vanada: No. 

Question: Was there any other places that you reached out to that didn’t happen? [Management] at Wall Stadium has said you reached out to them. Was that the only other place?

Vanada: So I reached out Wall and the family never called me back. That is the only [other] place that I spoke with. Interestingly enough – I wouldn’t name them – but there are already tracks that have already started reaching out to me who are interested in doing something similar for 2022. 

Question: It’s clear 2021 is season where there seems to be a lot of change happening and there is more opportunity for Tour Type Modified racing with different groups, associations or tracks. Where do you see Tour Type Modified racing and how do you see it all playing out? 

Vanada: Back when I started at Thompson I felt that when all the tracks decided that they wanted to get better that the product was going to get better, which meant that the support was going to be healthier. And I think that’s true here. I give all the credit in the world to [Tri-Track Open Modified Series managing partners] Wayne Darling and Ed Bennett for what they’ve taken Tri-Track from to [where it is]. And even [Tri-Track Open Modified Series founders] Jim Schaefer and Dick Williams. When they started it they had a dream, a vision, and then Wayne and Ed built on that and it’s something that’s become really really cool. I think that these Open [Tour Type Modified] races have certainly given race teams another place to go. I think the Arute family [at Stafford Motor Speedway] did a really good job in the way they’ve promoted theirs. They’ve gotten some good interest. But, it will be interesting to see how far and how long those Open races can go. So we’re kind of at an inflection point right. We’ve identified that and we’ll see where it goes. I think when you look back on the history of the [Whelen] Modified Tour, over time they have been the most consistent as far as what they have paid, the number of venues that they’ve gotten to be able to go to, etcetera, etcetera. I think they’re going to be a mainstay no matter what. I think with the supporting cast that’s around, it will be interesting to see how it all takes shape. 

Question: Does it worry you at all in general that tracks don’t seem to want to take the risk with the Whelen Modified Tour? You’re promoting three events, so that’s three events that tracks didn’t want to take on the risk themselves. In general for the Modified Tour, do you see that it could be a possibility going forward that fewer and fewer tracks will want to take on the risk of putting on events themselves? 

Vanada: Does it worry me? If I had an answer as a fan of the sport, yes that would bother me. Where I’m sitting obviously I have enough belief in it to put my money on it, to bet on it. I think what’s interesting about all of this is that COVID forced businesses to audible. They had to change the way they did things. They had to look at different avenues. All those types of things that are on full display in short track racing right now. But, it’s unclear how some of those audibles are going to work out. 

Comments

  1. “But, it’s unclear how some of those audibles are going to work out.”
    Exactly… Josh Vanada probably called the biggest audible of all of them.

  2. I’ve been telling you organisms for months… races are going to be a last minute deal. Same as what Vanada just called the audible. Schedules are high risk, little chance of actually hitting them, just a happened last season. The #TrumpPandemic is getting worse and worse by the day. You can pretty much forget the spring season racing, hopefully we can attend SAFELY in the fall. NWMT opening is a little more than two months out and COVID-19 is tightening its grip on control. The #TrumpPandemic is NOT going to magically disappear right before early April, no matter how many times Trump says so.

    Most if not almost all restaurants around me are closed, not even trying to do take-out business anymore.

    The coronavirus 🦠 COVID-19 #TrumpPandemic is in control and will be through this year, at least. The vaccine is not the proverbial silver bullet.

    For the sake of others, please wear a mask. 😷

  3. If this is a Covid19 transition year expediency it could make sense. Adding another layer with a coinciding additional profit incentive doesn’t seem to be a business model for the longer term with legs. Mostly when that happens it’s just a delay in a downward trend.

  4. 🌈🦄2020 says

    What kind of a loser town does Dafella live in that all his restaurant’s are closed for takeout? Probably the same one that frightened him when he threw out his lobster roll.

  5. Great questions Shawn. I too feel that, coming out of the blue, asking about financial backers is a relevant question…

  6. Fast Eddie says

    I agree with lettuce, great questions and interesting to get a better understanding of his involvement with the WMT. Great info!

  7. Whatever you’re thoughts on him I guess we have to thank him for promoting these events. Sounds like there would only be 11 races without him. Promoting a few races is a risky endeavor. If weather is bad and you take a financial loss there is not an entire season to recoup your investment. And to do it in COVID era is even more so.
    I don’t get it. Either someone has assured him if events are run with reduced crowds he would be compensated or he has seen the numbers that a successful event can generate (from his time at Thompson) and is willing to risk it. But if they are that lucrative why would the Hoenings give that up?

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