WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Story, photo and audio by Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Correspondent Steven Ovens —
Central New York Raceway Park has been the talk of the racing world for the better part of a year now in the Northeast. This facility located in Central Square, NY has been tapped as the future home of Super DIRT Week for the Dirt Modified contingent of the Northeast.
It will also be the home for short track racing, road racing and home of innovative ideas and the future of motorsports testing and technology. But before it can become all that is has been tapped to be, the facility must first be constructed.
Glenn Donnelly along with Peter Argetsinger and John Lehman spoke in front of approximately fifty people in the Watkins Glen School Auditorium Saturday morning to update interested parties on the progress of CNYRP. While Donnelly is completely committed to getting CNYRP ready for an AMA Flat Track event in August and potentially Super DIRT Week in October, he revealed to the crowd that construction came to a halt one month ago.
The reason for the delay? Funding. Funding that has been pledged by New York State and not paid out to CNYRP in order to keep construction going to complete the project. Donnelly revealed that approximately $800,000 out of the pledged $7.75 Million by New York State has been collected. The rest of the due funds are necessary to keep construction moving and not place the facility into unnecessary debt.
“In March or April, we were supposed to get the $5Million,” said Donnelly. “We’re not going to go into debt, we’re not going to go asking our people for more money because that’s not the way you run a business. The least thing you want is to owe a lot of money, that’s where you get into a lot of trouble.”
So with all of that being said, it begs the question of how long will it take to get the money? Is it too late to start the project within the next couple of days and be ready for the AMA event, much less be the host for the 2016 running of Super DIRT Week?
“If we can get the money in, say the next ten days, we’ll have that track ready to go (for the August AMA Flat Track event),” Donnelly noted. “We’re definitely going to do something at Super DIRT Week if we’re not going to do the whole thing. That decision isn’t going to be made until probably the tenth of July. We’re still confident that we will be part of it, if not the whole thing.”
A member of the crowd asked Donnelly to elaborate on what ‘some involvement’ looked like in his mind if they do not host all of Super DIRT Week?
“We think we’re going to be pretty close to being able to at least do up to 40%,” said Donnelly. “We’re shooting for 100% but to be 100% there’s a lot more that has to be done. All we need for the August event is a track and 5,000 seats. We will bring in concessions from the outside, we won’t do that ourselves. Whether we are going to tackle the whole thing (Super DIRT Week) is going to be pushing it. In five months, we got 80% of the work done. Now it’s the last 20% that’s the most critical.”
So where does the staff and principal ownership go from here in trying to obtain the remaining pledged funds? Donnelly says they have to rely on their state representation.
“We had to go back to our local senators,” said Donnelly. “The federal investigation (of several state leaders) has put us what you would call a little behind. We had to turn over all of our emails that we have shared with state officials over the last three years to the federal prosecutor. The group we were working with is called ESD- Empire State Development. They’re virtually a thing of the past, now we’re working with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.”
But securing those funds will still be a trick. Donnelly noted that the DASNY is triple-A rated, which will make it easy for local representatives to help CNYRP try and secure the funds from a bank. The money from DASNY is budgeted for and is there, but may take six to nine months to actually cut a check.
“Our local senator is supposed to be getting us a letter that says we’re going to get the money so we can go to our bank,” said Donnelly. “Our contact person at the State left, I don’t even have anyone in Albany I can call and talk to.”
One thing is for sure- the time that passes between now and July 10th will be very interesting to follow. By then, Donnelly and CNYRP hopes to have secured funding to continue construction. World Racing Group will need to make their final decision and lay out plans for the 2016 running of Super DIRT Week. Plus all the while, it will still be unknown as to what level of participation CNYRP will have at DIRT Week.
Hear two excerpts from today’s press conference in Watkins Glen:
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 29-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also serving as the full-time announcer and PR Director for both Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y. and Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
Email Steve at: [email protected]
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