Racing Around: Glen Ridge getting set for season
It looks like a big season ahead for the “Little Track on the Hill.”
Under the promotership of Ray Sefrin and Butch Hazzard, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park has put together an impressive schedule they hope will draw race fans and drivers to the quarter-mile dirt track.
“We tried to find out what the people want and to give them a program that is different,” Hazzard said. “Toward the end of last year the crowds kind of dwindled off a little bit. We decided we had to try something different. We have the CRSA coming back and I don’t think they have been here for a couple of years. We have the USAC Sprint Cars, Wingless Racers Alliance, Winged Champ Racing Series, the Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds and the modifieds will be back for special shows.”
The Ridge will host the Red Chair 602 Crate Modifieds, Limited Sportsman, Yurkewecz Auto Crushers Pro Stocks, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, All-Star Slingshots and the Northeast Paving & Sealcoating Junior Slingshots.
“Slingshots are a very inexpensive way of racing,” Hazzard said. “They are one of our best represented classes here week-in and week out with a consistent car count. We have some kids moving up this year, which is awesome to watch them develop.”
The 4-cylinder Mini Stock division has been a popular class at the track for many seasons and now they will get a chance to compete for some big money.
“We are doing some special stuff for the cylinders,” Hazzard said. “The “Mini Shock” is a play on the “Aftershock” we ran last year for the modifieds. We are going to pay $500 to the first single-cam across the line and $500 to the first dual cam. In some places they are just a trophy class.”
The Ridge joined Fonda Speedway in the switch to running American Racer tires this year as well as Sunoco Racing Fuels.
“Whether it is Brett Deyo or whoever is at Fonda, the focus is always Fonda Speedway in this area,” Hazzard said. “They have been there forever and we are still the new kids on the block. It was a no brainer for us to switch because it is the same tire and the same compound and it made sense, as a business decision, to make the switch to give these guys another track to race at and not have to change anything. Now you have two tracks in your backyard that are running the same things. We are both trying to get the fans and the locals involved and hopefully we both can flourish.”
The switch also presents the opportunity for the modifieds to compete few more times at the track.
“American Racing Tire does the American Racer Cup, which is racing for points at your home track and the more cars you have, the more points you get to get up into the higher paying positions,” Hazzard said. “Billy VanPelt finished fourth last year in the AmRacer Cup and only raced at Woodhull where they averaged about 15 cars and made about $3,500 just by racing at his own track. The reason there are 11 features all together this year for the modifieds is that you have to run at least 10 to qualify for the American Racer Cup.”
However, having the modifeds back at the track on a weekly basis is not an option right now.
“They spend so much money on the cars and motors and everything, you can’t afford not to pay them nothing. They deserve to get paid. Here it is not sustainable to do it every week. If you fumble one time you are digging out of a hole.”
Among the big draws for the modifieds will be the 50-lap “Vengeance” for big block modifieds on July 6.
However, Hazzard said that he believes that the June 30 show could draw one of the biggest crowds of the season.
“You are always trying to do something different at the track to bring it to the next level,” he said. “Racing and USAC go hand and hand. What better brand recognition is there than USAC. The feedback from people who haven’t even been here has been tremendous. I think it will bring a different fan base. If we can get 500 new people through the gate with the special shows and 50 comeback that would be good.”
Glen Ridge will host an open practice session, weather permitting, on April 28 with opening night slated for May 5.
“We’re getting everything all together and getting all the bugs worked out here,” Hazzard said. “We have been on the track with the grader and cleaning everything up. Ray and I are four-yea-olds up here and our wives, Susan and Michelle, they are our parents. They let us do this. If it wasn’t for them, a lot of the stuff at this place wouldn’t happen.”
In an effort to make the track as fan-friendly as possible, the start time has been pushed back to 5 p.m. on Sunday nights and on opening night; The Man in the Red Chair is buying the popcorn for all the race fans. General admission is $10 and $8 for senior citizens with kids 11 and younger admitted for $2.
“We are excited to put on a great 20 shows. It is a new season and there is always something going on,” Hazzard said. “We are trying to put on good quality shows at a decent price and at a decent hour and hopefully the fans leave happy and come back the next week.”
Fonda Speedway is slated to open its gates for an open practice session this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. The pits will open at 2 p.m. Grandstand admission is free and the concession stands will be open.
Opening night for the Track of Champions is April 20.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway is hosting an open practice session Friday night with free grandstand admission from 6 to 9 p.m.
Utica-Rome Speedway will host its Spring Break Shootout Sunday with a $2,500-to-win feature for the DIRTcar big blocks and a $1,500-to-win feature for the 358 modifieds, along with sportsman and pro stock features. Pits open at 3 p.m. with racing scheduled to start at 6 p.m. General admission for the event is $20.