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Caroga Creek Racepark set to open under the promotership of Tom Varin

Karts exit the fourth turn ready to take the green flag during an event at Caroga Creek Racepark. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

EPHRATAH — After successfully promoting Wing Champ Racing and North East Pro Series events, Tom Varin was looking for a new challenge.

He found it.

Varin has taken over the promotership at Caroga Creek Racepark 1/8th mile clay go-kart track on Route 10 in Ephratah for the 2020 racing season.

“I have known for a long time that I wanted to be on the promotional side of racing,” Varin said. “I started the WCRS and I found out I was actually good at it. Some other people in the sport asked me if I wanted to take it further. Caroga Creek came up available. Todd Moran made a valiant swing to make a go of it, unfortunately he was not able to. Anybody who puts in a effort to promote this sport deserves a pat on the back, it just didn’t work out for him. I would like a chance to implement a few of my ideas into racing and see where I can take it.”

Moran took over promotership of the popular go-kart track in 2016 and made several improvements to the facility.

The Wing Champ Racing Series karts stage a 4-wide parade lap during a special event at Caroga Creek Racepark in 2017. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

“He made a lot of changes and put in a lot of work,” Varin said. “I will be making more changes to the track and bringing it back to its original shape and bringing the frontstretch back out to where it was originally, taking advantage of the extension Todd did put on there, making the track longer. I am going to take full advantage of that.”

The racepark is also changing its start time to earlier in the day on Saturday’s with the gates opening at 11 a.m. and the green flag dropping on the race program at 1 p.m.

I am going earlier in the day,” Varin said. “That way if the racers want to go to Turkey Trot afterwards or Fonda Speedway, they can make both of those shows and do their own racing during the day. It may also give some incentive for people to travel from a little further out. Now they have a couple different things they can do and make a day of it.”

In an effort to help younger drivers gain experience Varin plans to put in a “Learner’s Track” at the facility.

“I want to get kids involved at a much younger age,” he said. “Kids and parents are getting frustrated because they are not given the amount of time it takes to learn the sport. They are just kind of thrown out there. I am building a separate track all together so the parents can work one-on-one or I can work one-on-one with their kids. Other people can come in and work with them on what the process is — how to line up, how to take the flag, what the caution flag is, what to do on a red flag, all those things that kids don’t automatically know. I want to teach the kids how to do it the right way before I send them out on the big track.”

Keeping the race program moving along is a priority for the former sportsman and go-kart driver.

“I am not going to be sending out individual classes. Hot laps do take up a lot of time,” Varin said. “You want to give the kids, the ones that are learning, a track all to themselves that they don’t have to share with the adults. So right off the bat the program can move right along. I can have two different events going at the same time. The learner division racers can be racing on one track while the adults are on the other.”

The weekly race program will feature multiple kart divisions, the Winged Champ Racing Series karts and Slingshots along with events for the Excel 600 Modifieds.

“We are putting a little extra banking on the track because we will be running the Slingshots and the Excel 600s and they need a little more banking to maintain their speed,” Varin said.

Varin will be joined by an experienced team of personnel with Bobby Rhinehardt serving as race director, Dan Kingsley will be on the flagstand and Nick Millard has been named the head tech inspector. Ron Smith is in charge of track maintenance, while Toby LaGrange will handle the announcing and track PR duties.

Varin said he wants to make Caroga Creek Racepark a bigger part of the community.

“I think that the community knows that we are not just a race track,” he said. “I plan on having farmer’s markets and craft fairs. I am not just open for racing. I would love to have a carnival there on the property. So if advertisers do want to come on board it is not just for racing. The track and facility is available for parties. However, the priority of the place is to be a small equipment racing facility. I am not going to cancel racing so somebody can have a graduation party. First and foremost we are a small equipment racing facility.”

The WCRS and NEPRO series were scheduled to have their awards banquet on April 18, but that has been canceled due to the mandates surrounding the COVID-19 Virus.

“It was intended to be the WCRS 2019 banquet and the NEPRO series banquet and a party for the grand opening of the Caroga Creek Racepark,” Varin said.

Caroga Creek Racepark is tentatively scheduled to open with a test and tune day on May 16 and the first racing program scheduled for May 23.

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