Posted by Tom on May 2, 2016
This is going to be a challenging year for Laird Raceway with the local economy in a downturn. Many of the drivers and team members that you see weekly are currently laid off from major employers - Essar Steel, and Tenaris Algoma Tubes. Those layoffs bleed through our local economy, affecting many secondary industries with layoffs and cutbacks as well. Even in the cases where one of our drivers is not suffering a layoff, they have to deal with cutbacks in sponsorships from local business owners.
We had considered a closure of the track for this season, but have reconsidered and will run a season that is a bit reduced over what we have run in past years. We think that this will be best for Laird, our drivers/teams/sponsors, and fans.
Our schedule this year will have a delayed start. Instead of racing beginning at the end of May or early June, our race season will begin on Thursday July 7th. Also, we have reduced the number of race dates down to 8 events, some of which are weekend events – running Friday evening for heats, bus races, a band and overnight camping, then on Saturday with 50 lap features followed by a new “special event.”
Refer to our tentative schedule for exact race dates and event details. This schedule is still being developed and is subject to change. In cases where an event is rained out, we may also schedule a rain date to ensure we get all our proposed races in. Rain dates are dependent on the availability of the grounds where the track is located, which needs to be negotiated with the Township of Laird.
“Special Event?” What’s that? In the past we have had demolition derbies, and in more recent years, the Spin to Win derbies. They are loved by the fans. The problem with these events is that it is difficult to get cars together, and then they usually get wrecked in a matter of minutes. It is hard to run more than once or twice a season. This year, track promoter Donnie Varcoe has cooked up a new event… the “Loose Caboose” race. Many track fans might be familiar with something called a “chain race”. This is where one lead car is chained to a rear car and the pair have to race around the track tied together. Click here for an example from YouTube of this type of event.
Another popular event is the “Skid Plate Race”. This is where the rear wheels of a front wheel drive car are replaced by steel skid plates, or “ski’s”. These are also exiting to watch as cars end up spinning out all over the place. Again, visit YouTube for an example.
What Laird Management has in store is a combination of the two. Cars are paired up with a chain. The front car is the tow car. The rear car is the towed car, pulled by a chain. The rear car has the engine removed, and also the rear wheels are replaced with the steel ski’s – skid plates. We expect this to be pretty exciting to watch, with the pair of cars being very difficult to control and plenty of sparks a flyin’.
There will be twelve teams of two cars/drivers. We will run heats of four teams with the heat winners moving on to a feature. To make this more competitive, the track promoter is proposing to send the winners of the most races off to a Nascar Race weekend, including flights, tickets, and motel room stay.
Laird has acquired cars to be used for these events. Teams will be given both cars and the chain, and will be given some assistance to get the equipment out to the track if needed. Contact Donnie Varcoe at Lakeway Truck Centre if you are interested in forming a team.
Of Interest to Drivers and Teams:
There are no rule changes proposed for this season. Once again, we are openly inviting racers from Michigan to come to Laird. Last season, we allowed Michigan cars, which run under different rules to run in our Modified and Factory Stock classes, provided they run on a smaller 8” treaded tire (vs slicks). These cars are also subject to weight adjustments (ie. Added weight) to make sure the competition remains fair. A discussion on these cars and their rules was had at a recent drivers meeting to clarify what is done.
It is very difficult to add these “out of class” cars into the existing Laird rules. Current rules state that besides running on a treaded tire, these cars will be subject for an addition of 50lbs of weight for every infraction of the Laird Rules. The intent is not to penalize these cars/teams, but rather to bring them to a speed/state where they are competitive with the existing Laird cars. Weight is therefore added to the cars until officials see that they are running competitive lap times with the other cars in the field, ie. They are not running away from the field. Officials will work with these teams and if necessary will remove some added weight if it is determined that the cars are no longer keeping pace.
Another change that we are implementing at Laird this year is the method of purse payouts to the drivers. We know that drivers are going to have it tough this year, and we know if they can be paid quicker it will be better for them. So this season, we will be implementing payouts via electronic transfer (Interac transfer). Drivers opting for this method of payment will receive an e-mail notification that funds are awaiting their acceptance, then just need to log into their individual bank accounts to accept the payment. It is quick and easy. Laird does not obtain any personal or banking information from drivers for this type of payout; all that is needed by Laird is a valid e-mail address. If you are a Laird driver and would like to be paid quicker, be sure that you complete a driver information sheet before the beginning of the season. Contact Rita Slater at Lakeway truck. Drivers not wanting this type of payout will still be able to be paid in cash at the track, on the following race date.
We are very proud of our drivers at Laird. We know that without the dedication of these drivers, teams, and their sponsors we could not be successful. We also know that the best way to promote this sport is for the drivers to promote themselves and their teams.
Most drivers rely on sponsorships from local businesses to offset some of the costs. Sponsorships from local businesses include cash donations, donations of parts, or services. Every little bit helps. If you operate a local business, please consider helping one or more of these drivers. In return, drivers may be able to help you market your business through such things as stickers on their cars, parking their cars in your parking lot or in front of your business to attract attention, or having your business name promoted during race nights by track announcers on our PA system. Many sponsors provide their drivers with frisbee’s, t-shirts, ball caps, and similar items that can be given to fans during intermission.
Drivers: Laird wants to help you with your promotions. We can offer such things as free grandstand tickets to give to your sponsors or friends, gift baskets, business cards, etc. If you have an idea that we may be able to help you with, please give us a call.