By THOMAS COUGHLIN
For The Recorder
If you have not been up to the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park lately, Friday, Aug. 29, may be the night to pay the little track up on the hill a visit.
Promoter and local businessman Mike Sowle is planning to have one of the biggest events of 2014 at the "Fastest Quarter-Mile on Dirt," when in combination with another long time area businessman and racing sponsor, Tom Spencer from Adirondack Leather, racers and fans will be presentedwith some extra-distance racing with an increase in the purse for the winners.
The Ridge is not a track for the faint of heart, as the action is non-stop and extremely fast-paced. The unique shape of the speedway is probably the major factor of the superior skill that is required to conquer this high-banked clay oval. In regards to the clay racing surface, during a conversation earlier this week Sowle said, "Around the third week of September, new clay will be added in preparation for the 2015 racing season."
If you ask any of the championship-quality drivers that have raced there at anytime during their career, it is a facility that requires a driver to be heads-up and alert every nanosecond that they are green flag racing. That may be a factor that has caused other drivers to feel that their skills are not up to par with The Ridge's regulars. Since the points season at many tracks will have concluded by Aug. 29, this will present an open opportunity for the invaders to show up and try their hand at taking the big money -- if they can.
On this night, the mighty modifieds will see their feature increased to 50 laps in length, with a hefty $3,000 waiting for the victor at the end of this 12.5-mile race. Each heat race winner will receive $100 to begin their evening.
In wanting to include all divisions in the excitement, Glen Ridge will also award the winner of each 602 sportsman division qualifying heat race with $100 for their accomplishments. The field of top notch competitors in the sportsman will race in a 30-lap feature that will see the eventual winner receive a top prize of $2,000, not bad for 7.5 miles of hardcore competition.
"Tommy (Spencer) is also looking at adding lap sponsorship (for the features)," Sowle said. With close to 80 sponsorship billboards surrounding the Glen Ridge facility and support from the race teams and fans, the lap sponsorships should sell quickly.
The vintage modifieds will compete in a 20-lap feature that will see the cars of yesterday race as the classic Gremlins, Coupes and Coach-style beauties from the past race in a 20-lap feature for a winner's share of $300, and the Xcel 600 division will also compete in a 20-lap feature for their chance to win a cool $300 as these little speedsters powered by motorcycle engines fly around Glen Ridge at speeds very close to what the 800-horsepower modifieds turn.
Family entertainment is the thought behind every program at The Ridge, and as part of that fans will be able to begin their evening in the covered backyard by listening to the music of the Bushwackers Band while the children are playing on the bounce houses. Later in the evening the kids will be able to take a tour ride on the Fun Bus, while talking to one of the many popular drivers and receiving added treats.
In addition to the new clay surface that will be laid down for the 2015 season, Sowle said, "We should see a Brett Deyo show, possibly in May," which is great news to many local fans as they know many of the top drivers throughout the northeast follow Deyo's series of high-paying short track events.
NOTES: Brett Hearn was the winner Thursday at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, which held its annual Mr. Dirt Track USA $17,000 Super Dirt Series race. ... Grandma Millie's bakery is having a pancake breakfast today with pro stock driver Kenny Gates and sportsman driver Mike Peek on hand and as part of the Wings and Wheels program. There will be airplane rides offered by pilots at the Fulton County Airport.