Broadslidin’: Still Plenty To Be Determined On The Northeast Dirt Roulette Wheel

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HORSEHEADS, N.Y. — Column by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Mike Payne Racing photo —

We’ve been able to cross a lot of unknowns off the list so far during this dirt track offseason in the Northeast.

We’ve seen some monster announcements like the Short Track Super Series and Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour teaming up at Rolling Wheels, we are seeing Matt Sheppard piece together (literally) a brand new team from scratch and Eldora Speedway was added to the Super DIRTcar Series schedule during the running of the NASCAR Truck Series events in July.

Although we have learned a great deal about what pieces fit where in 2016, there are still quite a few driver, series and track unknowns that we expect to hear about before the Northeast season kicks off in Mid-March to early April.

Billy Decker

While we now know that Decker has a solid, competitive ride with Mike Payne Racing for the 2016 Super DIRTcar Series, Decker finds himself still trying to nail down that weekly ride that will garner him home track points to apply to the Super DIRTcar Series.

Decker has said that something close to home like Fonda or Albany-Saratoga would be ideal.  That was a big reason why the MPR ride worked out so well for both parties- neither would find themselves traveling a great deal to secure those valuable home track points.  Decker wouldn’t have to travel long distances to the West and Payne wouldn’t have to tow clear across the state to come to Decker’s neck of the woods.

If you’re not familiar with the home track points system- you can add an easy 1,000 points to your SDS total by winning a track championship at your home track.  Those valuable home track points surely factored into Danny Johnson’s move to Fonda Speedway on Saturday nights, as he will make an assault once again for car owner Chris Gennarelli.

Surely a driver of Decker’s caliber will find a safe place to land on the weekly racing front, but where and with whom is still yet to be determined.

Race Track Unknowns — Black Rock Speedway

In what has been one of the more odd off seasons for Black Rock Speedway, which is saying a lot for recent history, the dust has yet to settle on what will come to be the 2016 season in Dundee, N.Y.

Track ownership has vowed that they will race in 2016, but as we approach February 1 this weekend, still no word on exactly what will be racing if a new promoter or track sale doesn’t take place.

The rumor mill is running rampant with potential scenarios with sources close to each scenario maintaining a tight-lipped approach to speaking out on their potential plans for the speedway.  If we’ve come to learn anything about these things, it is that it’s never really over until it is over at Black Rock Speedway.

For anyone that owns a Modified or IMCA Modified…I’ll gladly sponsor you a bottle of Tums as you await what 2016 will bring for your divisions.

This weekend brings on the 2015 season-ending awards banquet for ‘one-and-done’ promoter Mike Jackson, who now joins Dan Harpell on the list of ‘one-and-dones’ at the facility in as many years. Neither promoter saw their removal coming and it will be interesting to see if Jackson takes the high road at the banquet as Harpell did just one year ago when he held his banquet at the Holiday Inn in Elmira, N.Y.

Going into Saturday’s banquet, what we do know…is what we don’t know.

More Race Track Unknowns — Skyline Raceway

Skyline Raceway ownership similarly vowed that if the speedway does not sell, they would continue to operate the track as is.

We have learned at Race Chaser Online that there is at least one promoter making a push to lease and/or purchase the Virgil, N.Y. facility located in Cortland County, but there has not been an agreement reached to date.

Grit Racing Series powered by Super Gen Products

The 2015 season-ending Grit Series banquet will be held on Super Bowl Sunday at 1PM at Rex’s Pasta in Cortland, N.Y.

There was a conflict with the original date and location, so the banquet now shifts to February 7th.  The 1PM start time was designed to allow as many drivers attend as possible, with the choice of heading home to watch the big game or stay at Rex’s to continue to celebrations.

The Cabin Fever 2 event scheduled for April 16, 2016 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park is starting to shape up nicely for the Crate Sportsman competitors. Driver Nick Guererri is once again heading up the efforts to build up the prize pool and boost the event purse to make this event even bigger than it’s inaugural running in 2015.

While the Hoosier Tire Series for Grit has been in place, there are still pieces to the American Racer Tire Series that is yet to be finalized. Certainly the delay in finalizing a deal at Black Rock Speedway has complicated things but we are told that there could be up to two dates at Black Rock in 2016, with a final schedule forthcoming.

Canandaigua Motorsports Park

CMP posted on their Facebook page on Monday that they are planning to try and open the facility for the 2016 season on Saturday, April 2.

Surely the lack of measurable snow and recent above freezing temperatures have factored into this decision. It does create a conflict with the Hard Clay Open at Orange County Fair Speedway, but it appears that Matt Sheppard would be the only driver conflict. We will have to wait and see the final schedule, but with that conflict, it would seem that a non-points show for the Modifieds might be a fair compromise.

Turn 5 Media Adds MUDboss to Stables

Well, this much is official –– we are going RC racing.

I recently picked up a MUDboss RC car to compete with the growing field at Radio Hill Raceway in Dundee, N.Y. Many drivers that we see compete on the clay on the weekends in Spring, Summer and Fall have taken to this hobby over the winter with the numbers continuing to grow — to as many as 39 entries recently!

This division takes a two wheel drive RC truck chassis and utilizes a custom built northeast dirt modified body to give it that look of the mighty modifieds.  The rules are kept pretty basic and enforced to keep as even a playing field as possible.  The idea in this RC style of racing is not to race your fellow competitors, but to race yourself and complete as many laps as possible in the allotted timeframe for that race.

One of the interesting parts to the growing division is the paint schemes that have appeared on these MUDboss modified bodies. Just this past Sunday, I witnessed Bob McCreadie, Danny Johnson and Eric Giguere look-a-like cars. Our new arrival is expected to come in this weekend, and we will be sending two bodies off to the wrap specialists for some great designs.

While my Turn 5 Live counterparts may go with a Joe Plazek or Malcom Lane theme on their cars, my pick right now is to do a John Moravec ‘Water Wagon’ No. 6 throwback scheme.  The driver affectionately known as “The Gas Man” built and maintained his cars in my hometown of Penn Yan and was always a favorite to root for in our household.  Stay tuned for more as we dabble into the world of the MUDboss.

The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, Speed77 Radio, Turn 5 Live, the Performance Motorsports Network, their sponsors or other contributors.

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