By Larry Ott

When Joe Mancuso sat back this offseason and was seeking a way to increase the starting fields for the asphalt oval track Super Stock division in this region, one of which he currently competes in, the Buffalo-based driver says that he knew that he had to “think outside the box” to achieve his goal.

Mancuso is doing just that, forming the New York State Big 10 Super Stock Series. What really makes this series out-of-the-box, is a unique race tire policy that Mancuso has enacted for the new series.

While on many occasions over the last several years race organizers with various tracks and series have toiled with different tire rules ranging from hard to soft compound, track tire rule or open tire and other considerations, the one common denominator has always been that rules have always revolved around the use of brand new tires with fresh racing rubber.

This will not be the case with the Big 10 competition as new tires are not permitted in the series. The tires the Big 10 will compete with are slightly used, previously raced 10-inch Hoosier tires the Big 10 series purchased from a Late Model series based elsewhere in the country.

“Right now there are between 40 to 50 teams in the area with 20 to 30 sitting on the sidelines who are not racing and when you ask them why, racing expense is easily the top reason,” said Mancuso. “I knew that if these racers were to get back on the track something had to be done and thinking outside the box was the way to get it done.”

The Big 10 series will have its tire trailer at each event and racers will be allowed to inspect the tires and purchase them on a first-come, first-serve basis. Competitors can buy their tires only from the Big 10 series. Proceeds from the tire sales will be divided with a portion going into the race purses and the remainder into the Big 10 season-ending points fund.

Tires will sell for around $150 for a set of four opposed to the approximately $520 per set if they were purchased new.

“The whole idea of this series is that all racers will be on as much an equal footing as possible,” Mancuso said. “Also, different Super Stocks from various tracks can come together to race against each other in the series and no matter what their home track rules are, we will use weight rules and other measures to balance the competition.”

The New York State Big 10 Super Stock Series will visit Elegant Builders Raceway Park (formerly Dunn Tire Raceway Park) on June 8, July 13, Aug. 31 and the Sept. 20-22 U.S. Open Weekend. Races at Holland will be June 22 and Aug. 10. The Spencer Speedway in Williamson will play host May 17 and Aug. 2. The Shangri-La 2 Speedway in Tioga Center runs July 4.

Along with Mancuso, other local drivers who are already in the Big 10 are: Ted Welshans, Zach Myers, Joe Fetzer, Jay Canonico, Jake Wylie and Ronnie Richter.

Elsewhere, since 1988, the Casey’s TQ Midget Racing Series, which was recently renamed the New York/Pennsylvania Midget Association (NYPAMA), has been primarily the sole TQ Midget series on the Niagara Frontier. Now a second and rival series, the Empire State TQ Midget Series has been formed.

Which drivers will race in which series, particularly when the two series run on the same night, remains to be seen. Why the new Empire series?

According to Empire committee member/car owner Harry Macy, “Two years ago when driver Jim “Timex” Morgan was penalized by the Casey’s series for verbal abuse, he was suspended for a period of time."

After Morgan served his suspension, he asked to be reinstated, but was turned down.

“So with nowhere to race, Timex told a bunch of us car owners a few weeks ago that if we had a meeting and decided to form another series that he would put up the money to sponsor the series. So we had a meeting with twelve car owners present and Timex gave $10,000 of his own money and we have a new series.”

NYPAMA public relations director Joe Barber countered, “let’s just say that when we decided when we were the Casey’s series to not let Timex back in our series all that I’m going to say is that it was in the best interest of our series for a few different reasons.

“The most cars we will lose to the Empire group is perhaps five cars. When they are not racing on a day that the NYPAMA is racing any Empire driver is free to come and race with us. In two weeks I will release a published driver’s roster of at least 20 drivers who will race in the NYPAMA full time in 2013.”

NYPAMA will travel this season to Holland, Spencer, Chemung and Lake Erie Speedways. For now, the Empire series will race exclusively weekly at Elegant Builders Raceway Park.

Pit stops

Holland Motorsports Complex will bring back the Bud 100 for the NASCAR Pro-Modifieds on Sept. 7. Holland’s registration party is March 3 from 1-3 p.m. at the Holland Willows, 177 Savage Rd. in Holland. … Veteran official and former driver Craig Orr has joined Ransomville Speedways technical inspection team. … The International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen will feature a talk on the history of Supermodified racing, March 2 at 1 p.m. Retired broadcaster Dr. Dick Berggren will be the keynote speaker. Admission is free.