It appears that the sound of stock car racing engines will once again thunder in the small town of Delevan when Freedom Speedway opens for the 2014 season after being closed to stock car competition the last two seasons.
Local car sponsor Troy Shuknecht of Elba is in the process of completing a lease-to-own one-year agreement with current track owner Mike Lauterborn to promote stock car racing on Friday evenings next season.
“It’s pretty much a done deal pending anything that would come up as the lawyers are going through the final lease review right now,” Shuknecht said. “I’ve put a down payment down and everything looks good for me to make an announcement perhaps later this week.”
Tentatively, Shuknecht has tabbed the Crate Late Models, 360 Late Models, Modified Sportsman, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks as his weekly classes at Freedom.
Lauterborn purchased the speedway formerly known as Freedom Raceway and Arcade International Speedway in late 2009, then renamed it South Arcade Speedway. He ran a complete stock car season in 2010 but shifted to a partial schedule in 2011. In 2012, after not having much financial success, Lauterborn ended stock car competition there and staged local dirt flat track motorcycle competition instead. Last season, he kept the oval track facility closed and only held motocross racing on the motocross course but he looks to reopen in 2014 with Shuknecht promoting the stock car program through the lease agreement.
“I’ve been talking with Mike about running Freedom for about a year now and when nobody stepped forward and bought the track that’s when I decided to open the lease talks,” said Shuknecht, who has renamed the track Freedom Speedway. “It’s a one-year lease that if all goes well I can extend it or perhaps even buy the track. I’m mainly looking at it as a business investment I am making for my two sons to get involved with.” His sons are Tim, 24, and Brandon, 20.
“I am looking at completing the deal with Troy in the next few days so that he can start to put his plans in place,” Lauterborn said.
Merger at Holland
Holland Motorsports Complex promoter Tim Bennett has had a busy offseason to date, restructuring some of Holland’s rules for 2014, including the merging of the open motor type Late Models that ran at Holland several years ago with the track’s current economy-based NASCAR Late Models, formerly known as the Late Models of Tomorrow (LAMOT). The LAMOT cars have run at Holland since 2008.
The LAMOT-type cars have had a weak car count at Holland since their inception, punctuated by eight or fewer cars in competition on average last season.
The LAMOT-type cars feature 602 crate type motors, generically regarded as less expensive to run, while the open motor type Late Models usually run non-crate engines with higher compression.
With Lake Erie Speedway dropping the open Late Models after 2012 and Elegant Builders Raceway Park not running them on a consistent basis the last few years, many open Late Model teams have had to park their cars in their garages while some drivers have gone onto other divisions.
This season Bennett and his technical staff have concocted a set of balanced technical rules that they hope will allow both types of Late Models to compete against one another in a newly merged NASCAR Late Model division at Holland with a goal of enhancing a solid car count.
The most basic rules adjustments will find the cars sporting a 602 crate engine or a 9.5 to 1 compression engine to weigh with driver 2,800 pounds and carry a maximum left side weight percentage of 58 percent. For 604 crate, 10.5 to 1 and 11 to 1 engines, the weight must be 2,950 with 56 percent maximum left side weight.
Bennett is hopeful the plan will work. Rules will be adjusted if Holland officials feel they are warranted based on race results.
“This is our last effort at trying to make the Late Models work again at Holland,” Bennett said. “The LAMOT concept was a great concept when it came out five years ago but in order to make the Last Models as successful as can be we need to merge everything into one division and see what happens.”
In Holland’s four-cylinder Hornet division, Bennett is also allowing the addition of cars utilizing a dual overhead cam engine to join the single overhead cam engines in the class next season.
The single overhead cam-equipped cars must weigh a minimum with driver of 2,100 pounds and dual overhead teams’ cars must weigh a minimum of 2,800. After a driver has two feature wins next season a minimum additional weight of 50 pounds may be added to that car by speedway officials and with each subsequent victory that team achieves an additional 25 pounds will be added.
One other noteworthy change at Holland is that rules have also been amended to the NASCAR Charger section of the rulebook to allow the Western New York Street Stocks to compete in the class next season.
Around the tracks
• Ransomville Speedway officials announced this week that they have formed a new Novice Sportsman division. The class will comprise rookie DIRT.car Sportsman competitors who want to get more experience behind the wheel of one of these types of cars before moving up to the regular DIRT.car Sportsman class.
Rookies do have the option of skipping over the Novice Sportsman class and beginning their Sportsman driving careers in the regular DIRT.car Sportsman class if they so desire.
• The International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen will host a “Center Conversation Series” event on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the center, 610 South Decatur St. The featured speaker will be popular author and veteran racing driver Burt Levy, who is dubbed the “world’s fastest novelist.” Admission is free.
• The Friends of Auto Racing Fan Club (FOAR Score) will host its annual Awards and Hall of Fame Night on Saturday at the Elk’s Club, 33 Legion Parkway in Lancaster at 6 p.m. Multi-time world snowmobile racing champion Tim Bender, DIRT.car Modified standout Harvey Hainer Jr. and stock car veteran Laverne Pangrazio will be inducted to the FOAR Score Hall of Fame.
Proceeds from a special fundraiser at the FOAR Score function Saturday will be donated to area race officials Bucky and Jody Sossong of Lockport, who suffered a recent house fire.
• Raceway 5 promoter Jim Mazur reports that his Batavia-based dirt track will run the same divisions as last season in 2014. After staging a season opening Enduro race to open 2014, either in late April or the first week of May, Raceway 5 will present its weekly stock car point season from early May through Oct 12. A two-day season-ending program is also a possibility.