Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Likely Closing; Property Under Contract To Be Sold

On Aug. 21 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for the first time since 2005.

What few knew on that night was that it would likely be the last time the series would appear at the legendary Scarborough, Maine short track racing facility.

Saturday, during the track’s championship night festivities, it was announced that the facility is under contract to be sold to a property developer.

It was the last Saturday night racing event of the season at the one-third mile oval. The NASCAR sanctioned track is owned by Andy Cusack.

Beech Ridge Motor Speedway opened in May of 1949. Legendary northern New England racer Ralph Cusack purchased the track in 1981. His sons Andy and Glenn took over ownership of the facility in 1997. Andy Cusack became the sole owner of the facility in 1999.

Andy Cusack addressed competitors and fans at the track Saturday night following feature events and announced that he has signed a contract to sell the property to a developer.

Cusack told those on hand that the timetable for movement on the contract is still unclear. He left open the possibility that the track could operate in 2022 if issues should arise with the sales aggreement or developmental timetable.  

Attempts to reach Cusack early Sunday were unsuccesful.

“It caught off us all off guard,” said one longtime track employee who asked not to be named. “Nobody saw this coming, not even his own brother.”

Comments

  1. This was eventually bound to happen. Beech Ridge was the first track I regularly attended as a small child back in the 70’s. Then the only businesses in the 3 miles between the track and The Maine Mall seemed to be a small gas station, a roller skating rink and a junkyard. However over time development in the area absolutely exploded. The Scarborough Downs horse racing track a couple miles from Beech Ridge had also been sold to developers and held its last race at the end of last year.

  2. Well, that sucks

  3. Yea Does Suck, its a nice lil track and fun racing, i just wish THESE owners would be Upfront not only to the TEAMS that support the Track BUT MORE the EMPLOYEE’S who make said owner his $$$, but loyalty and honesty have taken 2nd place to greed in the world today, like THOMPSON i say enjoy yur $$$ OFF THE BACK OF OTHERS!!!

  4. Hang on everybody. All short tracks are in danger of this very situation.Attendance to low,expenses to high and not enough gate to make a reasonable profit (remember it is a seasonal business). Developers praying on the weak and owners have to see some financial gain with a lot less headache. Property is just too valuable these days without major support. Expendable income is a thing of the past.The extra entertainment dollars are rare to find…….Sad situation for all involved.

  5. Brian G LaVoie says

    Sucks everything is going away.all about the money these days

  6. Dr Robert Neville says

    Rumors of Beech Ridge demise have been strong for a while. Maine DOT has been working on logistics of proposed turnpike extension to Gorham, and with the last remaining large parcels abutting the proposed extension route being Beech Ridge and the Scarborough Fish and Game it was inevitable they would be victims of different values due to expansion of the abutting communities.

  7. You’ve owned a property for decades. Raised a family in it, worked hard and paid off the mortgage. Economic circumstances change radically with low interest rates, a migration of people into your state and town and the economy that is flourishing. Your property value spikes 50% and you reckon it’s a good time to sell and move to south. Are you greedy for taking the money and leaving your family and friends in the rear view mirror or doing the smart thing for yourself at the right time?
    Property, commercial or residential is an asset to be bought and sold based on it’s current value not an heirloom to be entrusted and guarded over time regardless of loss.

  8. I’m shocked and honestly saddened by this news. I started going to the Ridge in the last ten years and I loved the hell out of going there. It’s a fun track next to a gem of a city (Portland).

    Asphalt racing took a wrong turn somewhere. I’ve gotten hooked on dirt racing this last year — WoO, All Star Circuit of Champions, Short Track Super Series, Super Dirt Car Series — and I’ve been shocked by big car counts, robust crowds, lots of sponsor interest, and some spectacular payouts. The total opposite of most racing in New England.

    I’ve really been surprised by the mediocre support competitors have given Thompson this year after ACT/PASS tried to breathe new life into the place. And as much as I’m thrilled to see the return of the Thompson 300, I’m really apprehensive about how many quality cars are going to show up.

    And to “CT Bill” … I was with you until you talked about developers “praying (sic) on the weak.” Why are they the bad guys? You said it yourself … tracks are failing as businesses.

    Did someone hold a gun to Cusack’s head and force him to sell? Or was he seeing dwindling car counts, shrinking crowds, and decided he can’t right the sinking ship so he may as well cash out?

    You want to blame someone, blame track owners/promoters who can’t figure out how to attract a crowd and cars. They’ve got to fight for people’s disposable income … they’ve got to recognize that what drew a crowd in 1975 isn’t what draws a crowd today. Who’s innovating? Who’s trying anything new? Who’s offering an action-packed, compact show that doesn’t drag in places? Who has announcers that make it a colorful show? Listen to the way WoO incorporates a soundtrack to their program. Hell, Stafford is still playing “Celebration” after what, 20 years? 25?

    We’re losing asphalt racing in New England, and it’s sad … but, to some degree, it’s suicide.

  9. Cool track, too bad progress is killing it. Wish I knew sooner, I would have tried harder to make the WMT race.

  10. The owners passed away last year. A big offer was probably enough for their son to sell. This very thought crossed my mind yesterday regarding Riverhead. What’s next there?

  11. TJ,
    Andy Cusack has “owned” the track since 1997. Ralph Cusack, who passed away in February of this year, purchased the track in 1981. He sold it to his sons Andy and Glenn in 1997. Andy became the sole owner of the facility in 1999. This is most definitely not the story of a son who inherited a track and then immediately looked to sell it. Andy Cusack has been a cornerstone of New England short track operators for more than 20 years.

  12. One thing I just thought of was the potential pollution under the track. Before the track was paved in the 80’s, it had an “oiled clay” surface for over 35 years. That means waste oil was dumped on the dirt surface and would eventually harden to practically resemble asphalt by the time the night was over. I swear I remember reading an article around the time the track was paved that one of the factors in doing so was the owners not knowing how much longer you could environmentally get away with doing oiled clay. I would doubt there were many tracks in the country still doing that around them time either.

  13. Car racing is a dying Sport, The younger generation is off on a super fast track 5G….. Their phones never leave their hands… Watching Younger Generations at the Campground I am Living in, It’s crazy . The kids are glued to the screens all day and half the night, They only put them down to go for a swim…. These kids are TOTALLY addicted to the 5 G SUPER HIGHWAY not the Speedways…. TRUE FACTS… Car count’s constantly going down down down, Most weekly Tracks don’t even know what a CONSI race is… Look at car counts at LEE, STAR,SEEKONK, Stafford, Waterford, Madonock etc…etc… Sad to lose another storied speedway to Shopping Mall. Westboro, Lakeville lost to homeowners near by.. Lakeville was a DIRT track that Ran on Sunday Afternoon’s … Boy it’s so sad .. Norwood Area.. Packed in pits & Crowds that would make these Modern day Promoter’s Drool…..Living in the Past Again…Again Riverside.. Sad… Sorry ..

  14. Suitcase Jake,
    I get your sentiment, but the whole “Kids today are just glued to their phones” deal to me is just an excuse. Short track racing is a business and to own a business you have to be able to change with the times. Do you see a lot of Blockbuster video stores open these days? No, because their business model got trampled by forward moving technology. But, we have Netflix, a company that saw that streaming video was the future of their market segment and took advantage of that. Track operators need to find a way to thrive with the hand they’re dealt in a very competitive marketplace for public entertainment. I constantly see people blaming the issues of attendance at short track racing on “the kids today and their phones”, yet at the same time the NFL is thriving, the concert scene is still very strong and amusement parks are still packed. How is it that that those public entertainment places aren’t failing too? Maybe because they’re using social media to get to that place where the kids are, on their phones. I see a very positive youth presence at Stafford Speedway every week. I also see a track management group that uses social media in all forms every day probably better than most short tracks in America. Conversely I see many short tracks in America that fully ignore social media as a means of marketing. They’re dropping the ball in a huge way. You can make excuses or you can find solutions.

  15. Wow, that’s about the most “OK, Boomer” post I’ve seen in quite a while.

    “Kids and their phones.” Holy cow. Apparently you don’t see all the adults on their phones in the grandstands.

    To Shawn’s point, racing is an entertainment business. It has to fight for disposable income. No one has to spend one cent at a racetrack.

    Every generation has its own music, it’s own movies. Things that stay still, fall behind. Football has evolved and it’s thriving. Baseball … not so much. Traditions are great, but they’re a foundation … they can’t be the end of growth.

    And while you lament evaporating fans and crowds at local tracks, you’re totally overlooking the healthy state of dirt oval.

    Racing is a show. It’s a spectacle. Local racing is “I Love Lucy” or “Welcome Back Kotter” in a world of “Game of Thrones” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

    Sign up for FloRacing and watch events from other areas and different types of racing. They’re are some great ideas out there, if people will just take a look.

  16. Racing was something that sold itself, tracks merely had to put out a schedule at the beginning of the season and money poured in. Today, there are many other options vying for the attention of fans and their discretionary dollars. Asphalt oval track racing still has not learned to market and promote itself. Asphalt oval track racing is still stuck on the arrogant, belligerent and ignorant mindset that folks will flock to their tracks no matter what.

    It was a shocking wake up call when Loudon, that used to have a 5 year waiting list for Cup tickets ($100 for top row seats, I know) and now can’t come close to filling the place with $29 tickets.

    There’s less disposable income and many more entertainment options.

    Asphalt track racing has to learn to compete with other forms of entertainment after decades of printing money. It appears that the asphalt track owners are insane… they keep doing the same stupid 💩 expecting the good old days to return.

  17. Racing is a show. It’s a spectacle. Local racing is “I Love Lucy” or “Welcome Back Kotter” in a world of “Game of Thrones” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

    Quote of the year in my view.
    A lot of good point being raised here.

  18. “Hell, Stafford is still playing “Celebration” after what, 20 years? 25? “
    Yup they are. And if the pro stocks were still around they’d play “Eye of the tiger”. And the crowd would love it. Just saying….

  19. Shawn, you didn’t mention the fact that the cars nowadays are extremely complicated to maintain, back in the day you could work on your car with ease and race by using junkyard parts, now it’s all about online expensive parts, anybody know any twenty year olds that change their own oil?

  20. Nerves raw on the news of the weekend, and it’s possible impact of the status of river head. Then the news of Beech Ridge.
    So yeah, inevitably all the “short track asphalt racing is dying” conversations are going to rear their heads again.
    Suitcase, I lived at Norwood arena.
    I just think times are different. Back in the “day”, kids were gearheads. 55 chevys, z28 lt 1’s, 454 ls6’s, Shelby mustangs, 440 six pack road runners, on and on. Teens, twenty somethings, obsessed with muscle cars, either built a car in a 1 car garage, or later, ordered from the factory.
    It was all those types that filled Norwood area without the arena even trying! And, they brought their parents. There was a genuine interest in fast cars, either racing or dragging.
    Now? Not so much. The only comparison I see, are the wannabe’s that cut me off on route 24 weaving in and out of traffic, thinking they are auditioning on “fast and furious”. And they are the road course type if anything.
    The only thing I can say is, stafford is successful, tri track is successful. I was really disheartened this year when at Thompson in august, the crowd was great, but the fields were very short. How long can that last? I too was extremely disappointed about the lack of quality participants, even though the ones that were there raced convincing. I like fuller fields Better drama, but that’s just me. Those guys are trying to save a track, and I’m not sure a majority realizes it. It can only work if both fans and racers fully support it.
    I too am concerned about the 300. And that’s because the fans cried for a long race like the old days. NH stepped up with the musket. And what happened? Not a good indicator at all.
    So while good promotions can be done, I’m afraid the fat lady is singing for a lot of venues. What a shame. And yep, there seems to be magic in dirt.
    Sure wish I had an answer that would fix it.

  21. This stinks. You never like to see a race track close because there arent new ones being built. We have to hold onto each one we have. I feel bad for the racers, fans and employees. It hurts to see something you love close. I remember being heartbroken over Westborough Speedway as a kid then Riverside Park. I was concerned about Thompson Speedway this year because its clear the owners arent that interested in running it themselves. Now I am also concerned about Riverhead when I heard the news of Eddie Partridge’s passing.. Certainly some bad news the past couple of days.

    Short track racing is alive and well in some places. This past week (Wed thru Sat) I watched the Eldora double world 100’s, They had 80 dirt late model cars compete over 4 nights. 2 nights of twin 25 lap features paying 10k to win and 2 nights of 100 lappers paying over 50k to win 3k to start. Just paying the winners of the 6 features, they shelled out over 140k. I read they will pay out over 760k in purses to drivers over the 4 days. I dont know what the crowd count was but it was absolutely packed the last night. To give you an indication of the crowd size the 50 50 was over 100k to the winner the last 2 nights. The other half went to the Tony Stewart Foundation. The racing was great. One division, no sitting through multiple divisions of heats to set up features for 12 or 14 cars you really dont care about Just dirt late models in meaningful races all night long. Sounds like heaven. They charged around 35 to 45 dollars GA depending on the night. Racing may not be that successful here right now but it appears as though they are doing something right in the middle of nowhere Western OH,

  22. Mike86…Weak in a general way. Not saying developers are” carnivores”.Hell they gotta make a buck like any one else.I agree, If promoters can’t figure out a way to put asses in the seats(shame on them) then they are “weak” in options left…sell out. Watch Floracing and you you will see Dirt racing is on solid ground with good crowds and the Dirt Mods having B mains( consi’s) most every show. And the purses pay well, 50 laps paying $5,000 on avg.30 laps will get you between $2.500 and $3,000. Lots of sponsors to help pay the bill. No harm meant,just figure out how to get fannies in the seats or your business is weak enough to be bought out

  23. The 300 will be the finest Field of Mods that has been assembled all year . 20K to Win and just to have your name added to the 300 Winners List , The Tradition, Will have everyone Focused and Tires will be replenished by the time the Race Comes. Thompson will be packed with People again for the World Series of Racing,…!!! The Supers are always a thrill at the High Banks ..!!! great thoughts by many on the Sport we Love… I am planning on a Dirt Show next year at Lebanon Valley … See how things look on the clay…

  24. Suitcase, make it the Mr. Dirt event on Labor Day weekend. Almost 50 big block mods, 5 heats and 2 consis to set the field with most of the major players in attendance with $25,500 to win, with 3 support divisions. Practice is 2 rounds of what we would call hot laps, 8 and then 5 laps respectively. $30 for a top row reserved seat. Great event!

  25. Tracks are closing, malls and housing developments are being built in their places. Land is much too valuable, especially in the northeast. Dirt racing thrives, but local asphalt racing is barely hanging on here in New England. I love asphalt Modifieds, but I think Nazcar has helped damage them because of the excessive cost of everything to compete. I don’t have all the answers (maybe too many classes). Just thankful to Flo Racing and Trackpass. Times sure have changed…

  26. It’s too late for me but to you younger local race fans save yourselves. Abandon the dying asphalt local racing and devote yourselves to dirt. At Lebanon Valley the ticket prices are always low, the food good and affordable, the stands packed, the field of cars always full and the payoffs rich. At least that the impression you’d get from some of the comments here.
    No doubt about it Lebanon Valley appears to continue to prosper but if you’ve grown up following asphalt racing it may take some getting used to. The big events are well attended and the money good but just like everywhere the attendance can be sketchy for regular shows and the fan base just as old, white and male. The big blocks with all that power only a fraction of which makes it to forward motion seem to keep everyone awestruck but their support divisions can get as spread out and the races as boring as any asphalt event. Frequently worse. And it’s really dirty. Be prepared to breath air all night filled with particulate that gets on everything. Your face, cloths, hair, food and drink nothing is spared. The track is dirty, the walls are dirty and the infield congested with haulers. Compared to the visual of a well manicured asphalt track it’s kind of a grubby mess which is fine if that’s what you’re used to but it’s a different ambiance entirely.
    While you’re breathing that particulate the view isn’t all the special with those big old polls linked by heavy cable to protect you from cars easily capable of barrel rolling into the stands obscuring the view. Then there’s haulers blocking your view of the backstretch and always that haze especially when the big blocks are thundering around the track.
    Go to the dirt races if you like even make them your racing staple. We that remain still appreciate the really terrific asphalt races we have right in our own back yard. While it is true the weekly racing is lightly attended the opens and specials do quite nicely and a lot of the bigger events pay really good. Stafford alone through purses, bonuses and FloRacing is and will be plowing significant money back into the race teams that provide the entertainment and the fields stay strong because of it. None of that would be possible if no one was watching.
    It’s a sultry night in June or July, you get your ticket and make your way to the stands and the first thing you see is tour modifieds thundering past you on the front stretch practicing for their heats to come. The infield clean, organized and well manicured, no haulers to distract you, the visual of the entire track clean and organized as you take your seat and prepare for a good night of racing sans the dirt and dust.
    I still think there is a market for that product as inferior as some would have you believe it is to dirt racing.

  27. Lots of good points here from many people. I grew up going to Oxford Plains, Thompson, Stafford and Westborough. When I moved back to New England several years ago, I made it a point to go to every track I could, and found that I also love going to races at Seekonk, Beech Ridge and Star. Just about the only track I haven’t made it to yet is Thunder Road… but I will.

    So, asphalt racing is in my blood. I love it. And I love Modifieds.

    But we’re losing tracks; we’re not building tracks. Crowds are down, car counts are down. This is the opposite of growth and sustainability.

    I agree that younger people just aren’t into cars like past generations were. That’s got to hurt. Yet I still see big crowds and car counts at Thunder Road, and at many of the dirt tracks available on Flo, SpeedTV and DIRTVision. And many of the dirt series run on week nights.

    Sure, I know nothing is perfect. Im sure dirt tracks have their issues, too. Maybe they, too, are in decline and the asphalt tracks are just beating them to the bottom.

    Thompson is my “home” track and I believe oval racing is all but dead there. Frankly, I think it’s just too big for weekly racing. It’s too expensive to wreck there. It wasn’t that many years ago when I watched uncontrolled aggressive driving in multiple divisions just keep thinning the ranks. It made no sense to me why it was allowed to go on, week after week.

    Local racing has gone stale. You can say change will turn the existing crowd off… but lack of change just means smaller crowds as the older crowd moves to NC or FL, has less disposable income or dies off.

    Mains with car counts in the single digits… that may work on a 1/4 mile, but it sucks anywhere else. Penalizing a car to the back of the field nowadays is pretty meaningless. And the number of times that cars spin and sit, drawing the yellow… No penalty, so these guys are allowed to slow/ruin the show.

    The tracks need scoring pylons. There’s no reason timing and scoring can’t be shown. They need big screens, and cameras and drones, to show replays of the action. They need seating with good visibility, and comfort. Gotta give credit to Stafford for having monitors available around the property so people don’t miss any action when they’re out of their seats. And credit to Thompson for bringing in food trucks … great idea.

    On the other hand, announcing needs fresh voices. Badly. And we don’t need to hear the thoughts of the 3rd place finisher in the 5th support division. You’re slowing down the show. Last time I went to Monadnock, I tried the new grandstands. They looked great, but I couldn’t see a damn thing. Lee … why do the grandstands end 20 feet after the start/finish line? Crazy idea … move the start/finish line. Oxford Plains … Star … Seekonk … younger guys really don’t want to p-ss in troughs.

    But all that costs money. And who’s going to spend that around here?

  28. Doug, I don’t think anyone is saying leave asphalt and get into dirt racing. I think the point some of us are making is, Why does racing seem to be much more successful there compared to here? And that’s in spite of all the things you mention, like the pervasive dirt and dust.

    Every asphalt track can’t be Loudon and every dirt track isn’t going to be Eldora. Star is pretty rickety, and the food is not so great. You can sit in the stands at Lee and get pelted with chunks of rubber when the supers are on the track. I still go to both.

    But what lessons — if any — can we draw from other types of racetracks and other series, to help bolster racing in New England and help keep us from losing another track?

  29. Mike86, check out the really new stands in turns 3 & 4 at Monadnock, best seats in the place now. Spot on with the rest of your comments. I think a lot of the success in dirt tracks may have to do with geography. Most are in pretty rural areas where a lot of family and friends don’t venture too far from their place of birth. They’re not near big cities and don’t have a lot of money to spend on a weekend. However, they still can afford to head to their local dirt track and root for favorites, friends, and relatives that are racing. Lebanon Valley is a great example. Most of their events are $10 to get in, have good reasonably priced food, and a packed house almost every event.

  30. I was shooting for tongue in cheek but I guess missed the mark.
    I don’t dispute that dirt in some locations is strong in every respect nor do I seek to belittle the folks that follow it in any way. What’s annoying at times is that in this, an asphalt racing forum with many followers having decades invested in supporting asphalt type racing periodically we have to endure comments needling us about how great dirt racing is. I’m pretty sure most are well aware of that fact.
    I don’t think there are any lessons to be learned from dirt it’s such a different animal in a different market and different fan base. If you’re going to say lower the food and ticket prices and raise the purses to match those of a track like Lebanon Valley that’s a complete non starter.
    To me dirt is more of a rural track phenomenon. Not just an entertainment choice but perhaps one of the few entertainment choices in the region. It becomes a generational way of life for folks. I know first hand what that is like growing up in the hills of western Connecticut in a town where cows outnumbered people. It was bowling in the winter, racing at Danbury RaceArena in the summer and church socials.
    Were dirt a simple answer to turn tracks around we’d see conversions in greater New England. It’s not that simple though because people vacationing on the Connecticut shore aren’t going to want to go to the Speedbowl and deal with the dirt nor are many of the people the pop into Stafford on an sultry summer evening looking to try something new.
    There is a sea of ideas that could be spit balled that may improve the prospects of local asphalt tracks but they’re not going to come from dirt in my view.
    What we need to talk about at some point is probably the biggest thing affecting racing in the last year and a half that we know the least about but use a heck of a lot and that’s streaming. How’s it going, is it gaining viewers, is it a meaningful new revenue stream for tracks and is it sustainable? More local races then ever have been streamed, Stafford keeps adding gadgets and getting more sophisticated in their presentation so there must be something attractive about it. Meanwhile most every one in this forum has streamed races more then ever before and we take it all for granted. Could it be one of the things that’s needed that’s new, that’s getting the sport increased exposure, that we all use more and more but fail to recognize its significance?
    That’s my theory anyway maybe you all have others.

  31. Streets might not be full of GTOs, Camaros, Mustangs, Hemis, Chevelles, ‘cudas, Challengers and such, but kids are very interested in racing video games.

    Any way top parlay that into getting these kids to the track?

  32. Maybe Doug will back me up here since I grew up going to the Danbury Racearena, and he may understand what I am saying. At the conclusion of the night’s races each week, the cars and haulers pulled to a set aside area of the Fairgrounds where the fans could check out the cars, chat with the drivers, get autographs, etc. As a kid we could head down there after the races and see all our heroes in person, and for many of the fans young and old it was a weekly addition to the racing program that many many people hung around and became part of. Unlike watching Richard Petty or David Pearson on TV from a faraway speedway, hell, we could go down and rub elbows with Chick Stockwell , Don LaJoie and Kenny Webb. And the stands were packed every week.
    Likewise in modern times, I have been to Bowman Gray several times and heading for the pits when the races were completed was always part of the experience. Long long lines of people lined up to get autographs and chat with Burt Myers, Tim Brown, Junior Miller and so on. Like Danbury, packed grandstands every week with very animated fans.
    Also in modern times, Grandview Speed way in Pennsylvania. Dirt modifieds with the local heroes being Craig VonDohren, Duane Howard, and Jeff Strunk, From the beginning of the first heat and continuing throughout the night, announcers inviting the fans to head down to the pits after the races and meet and chat with all their heroes. The heroes all sticking around after the races to meet with the youngsters and older fans too. Huge crowds every week, and animated fans wearing their favorite drivers shirts weekly
    A common thread here? 1. Drivers always accessible to the fans after the races. 2. Very animated fans 3.Packed house each week, even for regular weekly shows.
    Great racing weekly at Stafford and Waterford, but as soon as a division’s race is over, the competitors make a bee-line for the exits. After the races? Pits are like a ghost town. An occasional pit party is nice, but fans seem more involved when they can get down to see their heroes weekly after a race and re-hash the night’s events. Kind of makes next week’s races a not to be missed event. At least at Danbury, Bowman Gray, and Grandview it did (Danbury) or still does (Bowman Gray and Grandview)

  33. If the assumption is that young people are not interested in cars and racing because they show no interest in the cars we oldies were and are interested in well that’s just wrong.

    R&B Sports World
    Nutmeg Kart Club
    Brass City Raceway
    RPM Raceway
    On Track Karting
    Monza World Class Karting
    Pomfret Speedway
    Silver City Quarter Midgets
    Super Charged Indoor Karting

    Not to mention the Gagners Wild Things Karts that has fed countless youngsters into the Streets, SK Lights and LLM’s at Stafford.
    The Thompson Speedway home trackers lament road racing at the facility as well they should but who do you think is doing the racing there? That’s right young people.
    Then there the explosive growth of sim racing. So called “real racers” may look down their nose at it but it is real racing competition with the pro’s using it extensively.
    You’re conflating the absence of butt’s in the seats next to you with interest in cars and racing. The young people love their cars and racing they just don’t share our sedentary interest in viewing races. They want to race and are.
    Now for all the grandpa’s out there that love their classic cars and would like to see the youngsters in action on the track at the same event mark your calendar for this Saturday at Silver City Quarter Midgets in Meriden, Connecticut for the Earl Wilcox Memorial Race and Car show. There you can see one generation with their classic and muscle cars sitting in lawn chairs socializing waiting for people to admire their treasure and the youngsters on the track actually doing the racing.

  34. I do remember all that you have said Mike86/H. I’d add unlike now spectators could not go in the paddock only SNYRA members were allowed and only men. After the races we would mingle with the drivers and they’d talk of their beefs with each other while drinking beer. Drinking a lot of beer with our dads in many cases drinking right along with them. While intermingling with the fans they’d be next to their cars, that for we that were so young, were magical showing all the battle scars of the nights racing action. There’s plenty of opportunity to interact with drivers now with pit access but who wants to get their head taken off by a surly Keith Rocco busily at work. Now if you could get him in the parking lot after the race with a couple beers in him it may be a different story but that as we know is a behavior no longer allowed nor should it.
    It’s unseemly to gush but I do love reading your entries Mike86/H and find you infinitely quote-tastic.

    “Local racing has gone stale. You can say change will turn the existing crowd off… but lack of change just means smaller crowds as the older crowd moves to NC or FL, has less disposable income or dies off.”

    Can you say amen!
    I’m listening to Mark Arute interviewing Bo Gunning on their Bottom Shot Podcast and he’s asking questions about Bo’s antics, fights, dust ups on the track like that was the golden age of racing and a good thing. Yet the Arute’s for good reason have purposely sought to enforce structure and discipline at the facility to bring a more family friendly atmosphere to the track and they clearly have accomplished their goal. Ryan Fearn told to never climb the fence again after a win, drivers not allowed to do donuts after a win and must keep their fire suits buttoned up in victory lane. How do you find fault with any of that it’s all very professional. Yet what is lost is all the entertainment value the unscripted antic’s that could be dangerous at times brought to the growth of the sport.
    It’s a classic double edged sword.
    It is a risk and can be expensive to change things up at any track. If you’re getting by and making money which I assume Stafford is then why take the risk. Especially this year just in the shadow of the Covid19 crowd size limitations and the hugely successful SRX race event.
    Car counts are strong, special shows draw satisfactory crowd numbers at higher ticket prices and the track is universally respected for it’s managerial professionalism.
    Why risk anything for now?

  35. “Any way top parlay that into getting these kids to the track?”

    Somehow get the people at Lime Rock Park, the indoor kart tracks, Track Night in America events, R/C Madness, and Cars and Coffee meets interested. There are plenty of young faces with cool cars there. I know plenty of 20 and 30-somethings into F1, Indycar, and road racing. None drive RWD V8 cars American cars, except an odd Mustang here or there, that’s what their dad, grandpa, and uncle likes.

    Based on paddock crowds I see, younger folks do tend to enjoy V8 power, as Chevy and Ford powered prototypes, Corvette Racing in IMSA, or the German and British V8 road course cars.

    Stafford has hosted Subaru Wicked Big Meets in the past, and in weeks following I’ve seen more people with hair that isn’t gray in the stands.

    I’ll also come right out and say the fan base of non-NASCAR style racing (Cup and short track) tends to be a lot more diverse, both on and off the track, than what I see at ovals big and small.

  36. Dr Robert Neville says

    Back to the case of Beech Ridge. The developer works for a company controlled by another in the fastest growing industry in Maine and needed to find land with short and long term returns for investors near Portland, the track sits on a lot properly zoned and complies with usage ordinance passed by town last year for what they want, and the owner has no dependants some legal expenses and wants to retire. The development intention is to take the track green, as in greenhouses. The additional lot they want and land they won’t use is money in the bank for investor return. Don’t expect too many announcements after the transaction closes as the holding company isn’t in the most transparent industry. I am not making this up and did not get this by reading facebook.

  37. What Developer and Company in the fastest growing industry in Maine might this be ( DR Robert ? )

  38. Doug, thanks for the kind words. I’m just a race fan who, earlier in life, thought his career path would be in racing (outside the cockpit). Life had other ideas.

    Just to be clear, Mike H and I are not the same person. I have no experience with Danbury.

    Sort of related to Danbury, Beech Ridge requires the top 3 finishers in all divisions to bring their car and crew out to the track at the end of the program. And the fans do come down to meet ‘n’ greet. I think it’s a great idea, but I do feel bad for the teams that win their feature early in the program, then have to stick around until, say, the visiting touring division completes its extra-distance race. Big ask of the teams.

    Another way that the Ridge builds that connection to the fans is Fan Appreciation night. During the program, all the cars and crews come out to the track and the fans are welcomed down. The teams bring bowls of candy, autograph cards, etc. The stands end up quite empty.

    Thunder Road recently did something pretty interesting: Spectator races. Two cars, street legal and registered, head-to-head for one lap. By the end, there was bent metal, a spin out or two, and at least one air bag deployment. It was a hoot. I wonder how many people came to the track that night to watch their friend compete and ended up enjoying a full night of racing? (Can’t imagine doing this at Stafford or Thompson… but maybe Star? Monadnock?)

    I’ll quibble with you about one thing, Doug. There are plenty of articles that describe teenagers’ lack of interest in cars and/or driving. It collapsed, but then leveled out. However, by 2018, every age cohort under 45 had fewer members licensed than in 1983.

    Some kids are still into cars, sure. The Fast and Furious movie franchise is hugely popular. And, as you noted, there are venues for kids who want to race. But I think what we’re seeing is there are fewer kids into cars and, those that are, have a variety of opportunities to express that interest. So, the group is fragmented and not necessarily funneled into oval racing.

    It’s like everything else … you used to choose between Crest or Colgate, now there are 20 options on Target’s shelves. We had 3 tv networks, now we have 500… plus YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

    If racing is going to survive, it just has to keep figuring out how to be interesting to enough people to be financially viable. At too many tracks, you step through the gate and you step back in time. Racing is too exciting to ever let it fall to the level where it’s thought of as “quaint.”

    .

  39. Seekonk has a whole series of thrill shows built around spectator drags. I had nothing going on and went to one probably 10 years ago and they had the biggest crowd I had ever seen there. A bunch of families too. I was sitting about 3 rows deep in one of the corners in a lawn chair. the day I went a lady absolutely buried a yellow mustang into the turn 1 wall, airbag deployed, it was probably a total loss. The thrill shows have become so successful they now run them monthly on Saturday nights and have given their Nascar weekly series the night off. Dont know if its true or not, but someone once told me the thrill show profits basically subsidize their weekly series and keep the track open You could never get away with it at Thopson or Stafford. Much too fast and dangerous. Honestly not sure how any ot these tracks get away with spectator drags they must have Ironclad liability waivers .

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