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Racing Around: Change pays off at Ridge

June 28, 2012
By JAMES A. ELLIS (sports@leaderherald.com) , The Leader Herald

After a disappointing turnouts during the months of April and May for Friday night racing at The Ridge, promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker made a bold move switching their racing to Sundays.

The plan was to run three weeks and then re-evaluate the situation to see if they would keep the gates open or not.

With sponsor-enhanced purses and a little house cleaning, the experiment worked, and The Ridge will remain open and continue to run on Sundays.

"This week we are going to start out with the rained-out sportsman race [35 laps, $750 to win] and then a regular show," Romano said. "The sportsman drivers will draw when they come in the gate for their heat race and the second feature will be heads-up. So if any new guys want to come, they have a shot at starting up front."

Since the switch to Sunday night, Matt Sheppard has become a regular, along with Kenny Tremont, Andy Bachetti and Billy Decker.

"I called Billy Decker and I think he plans on running there more," Romano said. "He said he is actually having a good time. I think you will see Billy coming back, but he will be hit and miss. Tremont will be a regular. Sheppard won't be there this week because there is a Super DIRT Series race [Cornwall Motor Speedway in Canada], but most Sundays he will be there. Bachetti wasn't there last Sunday because he wrecked pretty hard Saturday night. You might be surprised at some of the faces that are going to be there weekly."

One of the concerns with switching to a 6 p.m. starting time were the conditions of a daytime track.

However, although a little dusty, which is to be expected, the racing surface has been smooth and raceable.

"I thought it was pretty good racing last week, even after Matt got out front and pulled away," Romano said. "Everybody thought Bobby [Varin] and Matt got together, but what happened was a bracket that holds the center steering broke. It let the steering wheel flip up against the cowl, and it pinched his hands between the wheel and the cowl. That is why the car went to the infield because he couldn't turn it. He pulled the steering wheel down and tried to finish, but it did it again so he decided to park it."

The next special event at The Ridge is slated for July 8 with sponsorship from Mike Sowle of Sowle's Tractor Trailer Repair.

"Next weekend, July 8, it is going to be twin 25s for the modifieds, each paying $1,500-to-win," Romano said. "The winner of the first feature will draw the invert number for the start of the second feature. Sowle's are putting on a humungous fireworks display. Fans will really get their money's worth that night."

Looking ahead, Romano said the mid-week Race of Champions Series event is still on the schedule for Aug. 14.

Special events

July is always a big month for special events on the local racing scene.

Fonda Speedway kicks off the month with the annual Hondo Classic for pro stocks July 7.

The race, run in memory of popular pro stock driver Hondo Carpenter, draws many of the top drivers in the division from around the northeast.

The Track of Champions also has a pair of upcoming midweek specials on tap with the UNOH All-Star Circuit of Champions for 410 sprint cars on July 19 and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on July 26.

The sprint cars will be joined by the modifieds in a 30-lap $4,000-to-win feature, while the late model show will also feature a 30-lap, $3,000-to-win main event for the modifieds.

Utica-Rome Speedway will host the Lucas Oil Late Models and Empire Super Sprints on July 25.

On July 10, Brett Hearn's Big Show, a 100-lap Super DIRT Series race for the modifieds will be run at Albany-Saratoga Speedway along with a feature event for the pro stocks.

 
 

 

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