ELBRIDGE, N.Y. — Story by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — RWR photo —
The hits just keep coming for Rolling Wheels Raceway in what has been a disastrous couple of weeks for Pay Dirt Racing and the legendary five-eighths-mile clay oval.
An individual willing to only be identified as a Rolling Wheels Raceway Staff Member — slated to be announced next week and currently in charge of their Facebook page — says: “The future of this place being a racetrack is very much in doubt.”
Race Chaser Online reached out to Rolling Wheels Raceway mid-day on Wednesday to find out any further developments since Motorsports Expo. Posing questions on Facebook appeared to be the only option as the “Contact Us” page on the speedway’s website no longer listed any contact information and the link to purchase tickets directed to a ticketing service website that services DIRTcar and World of Outlaws-sanctioned events.
For those unaware of the timeline, within a 48 hour period last week, Rolling Wheels lost affiliations at the Expo with Rich Vleck, Mike Emhof, the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints, GRIT Racing Series, Go Nuclear Late Model Series and was rumored to have lost their July 2 Stars and Stripes 100 Super DIRTcar Series event to Canandaigua Motorsports Park — that move was made official earlier this afternoon by DIRTcar.
An announcement from the Super DIRTcar Series indicated that their 2015 schedule was now official with no further changes anticipated. Included in that official 2015 schedule was a Super DIRTcar Series event on July 2 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park — not Rolling Wheels. DIRTcar and Pay Dirt Racing were supposed to have met with each other last week to discuss the July 2 date as well as the future of DIRTcar at “The Wheels”.
“The 2015 Super DIRTcar Series schedule was completed today with the addition of a second event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Thursday, July 2,” DIRTcar said in their official statement. “The Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified event will be a doubleheader with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint Series’ annual Speedweek stop at the half-mile fairgrounds oval.”
“Originally scheduled for Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, the event was moved to accommodate facility improvements planned by new track owners Pay Dirt Racing.”
“This will be a huge holiday week kick off event, combining the best in Big-Block Modifieds and 360 Sprint cars,” CMS promoter Jeremie Corcoran added. “The combination event will be one of the highlights of the summer.”
The announcement from DIRTcar has a lot of race fans questioning how it is that Rolling Wheels went from a track that was going to offer some of the biggest payouts in Central New York and having sold 7,500 tickets for opening night to now losing their race on the premier stage like the Super DIRTcar Series to “facility improvements”?
When asked Wednesday how the meetings with DIRTcar went, the RWR Staff Member relayed that meetings with DIRTcar were ongoing.
The next big question was — what are the plans going forward as far as operation of the racetrack and the future development on the Rolling Wheels property that Pay Dirt Racing had referred to previously on their Facebook page?
“Building on RWR is a go and that will not cease, drive-in (outdoor movie theater) will be up this summer and the digital billboard will be installed,” was the answer. “The future of the racetrack is in doubt because despite the large payouts being offered, it is apparent the resistance to this exceeds the support for it. So the development of the property is much easier to do at this point.”
Although some skeptical race teams and fans have felt this Rolling Wheels Raceway plan for 2015 and beyond was too good to be true, this is the first time there has been any indication from RWR officials that the famed five-eighths mile might not actually see a lap turned in 2015. The RWR Staff Member reiterated the uncertainty of the racetrack when asked about the rumor of Paul Szmal’s involvement with Rolling Wheels.
“Paul is in the plans of RWR if the racetrack is kept, which is doubtful at this point,” the official said. “However Paul has not been officially hired by us and we have not even vetted or met with him to determine if his philosophy will fit with the new philosophy we will use in the event we decide to continue.”
Szmal has adamantly denied claims that he is affiliated with RWR or Pay Dirt Racing in local racing forums as well as in an interview that was conducted by Chris Marquart and Mike Mallett at the Finger Lakes Speedworld Car Show in Auburn, NY this past Saturday. The former DIRT Motorsports employee indicated that he has had discussions with Pay Dirt Racing but is not under contract with Pay Dirt or the racetrack.
It is fascinating to take a look back at the timeline of how many things have occurred since the announcement of the speedway being sold to Pay Dirt Racing. Without a wheel being turned on the dirt, a speedway on the rise with limitless potential now finds itself on the ropes without a known immediate future. Mistrust from race fans rooted in failed promises and a lack of transparency on behalf of Pay Dirt Racing has led in large part to the current state of Rolling Wheels Raceway.
Many have been on the optimism train for a majority of this wild ride, but now find themselves saying, “This sounds too good to be true, let’s believe it when we see a race there.”
Now it’s time to wait and see what develops ‘As The Wheels Turn’.