With success through the years, Peterborough Speedway has become one of the known tracks in Ontario for some of the best racing in the province, and this year marks a big year as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary season.
“Just looking forward to the whole season,” track promoter J.P. Josiasse said. “This year is our 50th anniversary so we’ve planned quite a few different things throughout the whole season. We’re going to do 50 lap races for each division. We’re not just going to have one special night, but rather celebrate throughout the whole season. The touring divisions are back, as usual. APC is coming in a little earlier this year. OSCAAR with all their divisions, Can-Am Midgets, Chase for the Colors is the Canada Day long weekend, the Ontario Modifieds, and topped off with all our regular divisions. Our Four Fun class – the car count is just gone through the roof with having to run a b-main for that. Probably because they’re all rookies it makes for interesting racing.”
The track enters this year coming off a great season, which saw higher car counts in each class than the previous season, something which Josiasse has seen happen over the past three years.
“Done a lot of different promotional things over the past few years,” he said. “About five years ago, we started to do opening night as free admission and then started doing toonie nights as well, and saw a lot of new crowds to the facility. It’s taking a number of years to build up our regular nights. Also, doing driving experiences has introduced a lot of new people to the sport. It helped create a lot of new competitors. Registration for 2017 is up 40% over 2016 right now.”
The toonie night – twice a season, along with the free admission for opening night, are something which Josiasse has seen pay off for the track as the attendance has since doubled compared to prior to doing that.
“It’s taken quite a bit of effort to get it there, but it’s part of the marketing budget,” he said. “You have to spend some to get that fan there. So trading off the admission cost as part of our advertising budget, and it worked. You have to be prepared because through food sales and t-shirt sales, you have to able to capitalize in having that extra people there. Peterborough is also in a bit of a different area – a lot of jobs have been cut and a lot of people have lost jobs. Some people that go to those events that say thank you because it’s the only time that they can take their family out to an event.
“Along with the toonie nights and free nights, we found that working with the community, going to events and taking racecars there, going to schools – kids sitting in the cars, being talked to, it gets them started and once they get bugging, I know the parents will crave.”
Beyond the impressive racing and new fans in the stands, they’ve also become known for some of the best food in the province, as witnessed by the amount of attendees at the canteen during this past year’s Autumn Colours Classic. Josiasse notes they’re always looking to improve that, having replaced and doubled one of the canteens in size last year.
“We make our own fries and I changed the approach about four or five years ago,” he said. “How would you run a food concession if that’s the only way to make money as a speedway, opposed to the attitude that they’re there, they’ll buy. My parents are in the catering business and they sorted of pushed me and said, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.'”