By MIKE MALLETT
Len Sammons and the CURE Insurance Arena are not strangers to the indoor racing game. For the past several seasons the arena in Trenton, N.J., has hosted events in the Indoor Auto Racing Series Championship fueled by VP Racing. This year they decided that a change was necessary.
Gone were the TQ Midgets and action on the concrete, in came the 600 Micro Sprints with a first ever event on the dirt. Several truckloads of clay were brought in, a whole new track was built and the East Coast Dirt Nationals was brought to life.
On Saturday night the finale lived up to the expectations. It was a feature for the ages with Whitey Kidd III passing Alex Bright in the closing laps for the win. Sammons was ecstatic about the race and how it played out.
“It was everything we dreamed of, what a race,” commented Sammons after the event. “We had two grooves all the way around the race track. We saw some three-wide action. We had some unfortunate crashes. The guys that put this track together worked so hard to get an outside equal to an inside. We wanted the bottom to go away and it started to right at the end. That made the difference. It was a racers track the whole weekend. It was ever changing.”
The racing lived up to the hype, unfortunately the crowd wasn’t what was hoped for, but the event as a whole was a success. It’s something to build on going forward.
“Everything came together,” said Sammons. “I have to thank all the people that helped put this show on. The clay, the right catch fencing and the building here in Trenton that took a chance on it. We didn’t fill it up like everyone thought we would, but I think when the word gets out how good the racing was its only going to get better. These guys aren’t well known, but man they can drive some race cars.”
Sammons indicated that the logistics of the event were the same. A team that included his son Davey working on the track while his other son Danny handled the adverting side. They joined with a dedicated team of loyal followers who got to work early in the week building the track with changes necessary to accommodate the high flying micros. A new wall was used that utilized a brand new catch fence. All that went in before a dark clay surface was put down. The track was flawless as the clay was same used at the famed East Windsor Speedway. It was table top smooth with racing from top to bottom.
“We built a catch fence for the first time because the way they take off, we got higher walls and we banked the corners,” mentioned Sammons. “It started out flat so we had a bottom ledge then a bigger cushion. The first day it turned out slick. We wanted it to have a base so it wasn’t rough. You look at this race track now, it’s table top smooth and it’s got a three to four inch cushion. Last night they pushed it all the way to the wall. Tonight we brought it in.”
Sammons stated the event will be back. They have a lot invested and they are determined to work hard to make it a success.
“I think most definitely we’ll do it again,” he said. “We invested a ton. We own the clay, the fence now so the first race was the real expense. The TQ’s are our bread and butter and we added Albany now. This was a bad mix in Trenton with the TQs because it was between Allentown and Atlantic City. We just need to find a date for this building next year that fits with our other schedule and with the Motorsports show.”
With the East Coast Dirt Nationals complete, Sammons and crew now turn attention to their TQ series which features their first ever stop in the Empire State at the Times Union Center in Albany New York in early February. There is already excitement about the race which joins traditional stops in Atlantic City and Allentown on the schedule.
“The race tracks up there are rich in tradition and it will pull from New England too,” cited Sammons. “We haven’t had a race in that region since Providence. They’ve been busy out there so we haven’t been able to do the event again. A lot of our drivers are from New York and New England so we are really psyched. I think it’s going to be a great show.”
Sammons was also pretty excited that he’s got some new teams and drivers preparing to throw their hats into the ring for an indoor series championship. Those announcements should be forthcoming in the near future.