During the summer, it’s always fun to take a trip to the beach and relax for awhile. Now how about throwing some racecars into the mix? It’s possible to make that happen without going all the way to Daytona Beach, Florida, as Sauble Speedway offers the perfect package with only being just 10 minutes up the street from Sauble Beach.
The track is set for another year of racing, once again electing to go with a shorter schedule than most tracks in Ontario, running mid-June to the beginning of September, versus end of April to September.
“It actually worked really well for us that we went with the shorter schedule once again in 2017,” track promoter Jason Thom said. “The shorter schedule is because we’re so tourist dependent with where we are in Sauble, Ontario. We wouldn’t be able to get the crowds to the early events. Now in 2016, it was record crowds for every event – rather it was a weekly series, or APC or OSCAAR which jammed the pack.”
Just because it’s a shorter schedule than most doesn’t mean that it’s not full of action, though, as each weekend seems to offer it’s own level of excitement, with a mix of regular divisions and tour divisions on the card.
“We’re going to try and give the fans something every night,” Thom said. “We have almost every touring division in Ontario coming to Sauble Speedway. We’ve got OSCAAR coming twice with their full line-up, so it’s going to be a great year. There’s some weekends we’re running both nights so come on out, camp and have some fun.
“We kick off the third week of June with the Demolition Derby. Last year, we brought a monster truck in and crushed some cars and did some donuts. The guys that work there hated it as they were stuck cleaning the infield grass for the next two weeks. We’ve got lawn mowers racing on the small track in the infield – those guys are nuts. It’s not cutting the grass, it’s tearing it up.
“We’re looking forward to 2017 and I think the buzz that we’re getting from the show today is very positive about 2017. the track owners and promoters are all talking and working together. you know, stock car racing is making a real comeback the past couple of years and on the rise. We’re still on the way up and we’re not looking back – just full steam ahead.”
Of course, the shorter schedule certainly helps some with their budget as it’s less weeks that they have to be ready for. The subject of the cost of racing was part of the notable discussion at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Show, with Thom noting it’s “relative” to other things in life.
“From a competitors side when he wants to get involved in motorsports, he chooses the division to compete in, based on what the budget is. As promoters, it’s our job to make sure that division maintains its cost,” he said. “Obviously there’s costs in fuels and tires and parts, but it’s up to us to maintain the rules packages so they don’t get evolve so that way everybody in the field can maintain to race with the budget that they started with. If they want to move up, they know that they have to have the budget to do that. There’s lots of people that race in classes that they can’t afford to race in, but that’s their fault. That’s their fault. We can’t expect to bring classes back to make it more affordable for guys who made the wrong division, but we need to provide entry level classes, like bone stocks, pure stocks, budget cars, jr late models – entry level classes for guys with smaller budgets. So that way once they built the car, they’re racing in prize money.”
He added that’s why as promoters, they need to resist the urge to continue to grow the class more in bringing in more technology or expensive parts, so that way it keeps the guy with the smaller budget able to continue racing.
“But in all, you have to remember this is a hobby and keeping the costs down is part of our job and we’re capable of doing that, and doing a good job right now,” he continued. “Some classes, like super stocks and thunder cars, are growing really well after evolving a little bit but you don’t have to step out of your budget. You can still run an old car for $3,5000, drop a crate motor in, and go racing and be competitive. We got cars at the beach that have done that and we know it can be done.”
Beyond what they’re doing in that respect, there’s also positive vibes for the track in being able to watch new blood walk in through the gate each week, as a result of a “kids ticket” program they developed last year.
“At Sauble Speedway, historically, kids 12 and under had been free in the past,” he said. “One of the competitors’ wives asked how we could get new young blood at the race track. We can’t give them passes to get in to the grandstand because they’re already free. So now children 12 and under are $5 to get in the grandstand. But I printed out like 6000 free passes. So all of the sudden these kids in the public schools all had this ticket in their hand that really has no value – but basically gave them free entry in, with an adult’s admission. I think that’s really helped bring new fans to the track.”