By KEN BRUCe
The common theme going around this year Motorsports Show in Oaks, Pa., from all the drivers was “excited”. Nearly every driver I had the chance to talk to used that particular word to describe their upcoming season.
As always, this year’s Motorsports show was jam packed with race cars all in their pristine pre-season state. It is the time of year that we the fans get to see the new paint schemes on the cars, we also look forward to maybe running into one of the many drivers that are always walking through the many aisles of displays and maybe have a chance to chat with them or have our picture taken with them. For myself and many other race fans alike, the annual Motorsports Show put on by Lenny Sammons Jr and his staff is looked upon as the kickoff to another great season of action.
I spent the day Saturday checking out the many displays and tried to talk to as many people as I could throughout the day. I had a very nice conversation with Brett Deyo regarding the STSS South region and am really looking forward to this year’s South region events.
Brett Deyo looking ahead to busy STSS South tour in 2017.
When Brett Deyo first started his STSS in 2014 the series consisted of running tracks in New York mostly in the Southern Tier region. After a successful debut in 2014 it became clear to Deyo that with all the talented drivers and teams that run on the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware tracks that they needed a series of their own to showcase their talents and also something for the fans to latch onto.
So in 2015 Deyo came up with the idea to run two separate series. The North series which competes on tracks in the New York area and a South series for the drivers and fans in the tri-state area. It became apparent after the first year of the new South series that Deyo had hit on something. Car counts were high and the crowd sizes were good. In 2016 Deyo expanded the series from five races to seven with the with the bookend races now being held at Georgetown Speedway in Delaware which was a good fit for the series being that after the 2015 season Deyo has decided to lease the speedway himself. The crowds for both races at Georgetown were huge and left the fans wanting more.
The 2017 STSS South series is expanding once again with a second event being scheduled at the Bridgeport Speedway, although the second race is scheduled to be the first race ever on the track’s new 3/8’s mile speedway being constructed inside the spacious 5/8’s mile track. The second Bridgeport race will also be labeled as the “Dirty Jersey” race which in years past has been run at the New Egypt Speedway which is not on the schedule in 2017.
The other additional race for this year will be part of the Mid-Atlantic Championship weekend at Georgetown Speedway bringing that tracks total of races to three in the series.
“I think our southern deal is really growing, we just finished our second year and now going into year three and we have a lot of cool stuff happening. With us taking over at Georgetown and making in a specials only track fit right in with the series since it is a neutral track for everyone. Moving the Dirty Jersey race to the smaller track at Bridgeport is really going to be cool since that will also be a neutral track. Our race at Susquehanna Speedway is going to pay $10,000 this year so that is really big and I think last year’s race at Susquehanna was one of the best races of the season plus we are bringing in the 358 Late Models as a support class this year. They have a strong following in that area and we are trying to keep everything moving forward. So we are trying to change things up a little but we don’t want to mess with what works. In the North region we are going to Albany-Saratoga Speedway this year for the first time which is awesome. If you want to talk about premier speedways Albany-Saratoga has to be at the top of the list.”
Deyo also talked about the expansion of the series from seven to eight races in the upcoming season.
“The reason we did that is it just didn’t make any sense that the southern series ended before the north series and the south is where the warm weather is. I wanted to do a September race because ending in August it seemed like we were cutting the south series short. Then Bridgeport came to me with the idea of racing on the small track and it was actually Keith Hoffman who texted me about and said what do I think and I said I think it would be awesome to have one (race) on the small track and one (race) on the big track plus the fact I was looking for a place for our Dirty Jersey race and it seemed like a good fit. We tried out Mid-Atlantic championship race last year at Georgetown and we took it a little easy with the payout just to get a feel where we were with everything. That seemed to work out well and we were pleased with the result so we thought that’s where the championship for the south series should be decided. Plus I am trying to make up something to fill the void from what the old Octoberfest at Hagerstown used to be. To bring our championship deal there for the Modifieds is great, it’s a weekend where nobody is racing. When you crown your champion in August there are so many other tracks still racing so it sort of get’s lost but doing it this way it will be in the limelight. So both of our series champions will get some major publicity with the North series champion being crowned during Eastern States weekend and the South series champion during the Mid-Atlantic States weekend and that will go a long way in keeping our sponsors happy.”
Not on the schedule for 2017 is a race at the New Egypt Speedway which for the past four years has hosted the “Dirty Jersey” race which this year will move the new 3/8’s speedway at Bridgeport. After experiencing issues the past couple of years causing the night event to get over at a late hour Deyo thought it would be best to take the year off from the track but not ruling out a return in the future.
“The thing was just the way the show flowed the last couple of years made it hard. We are the working man’s series and we have our superstar guys but most of our teams and the fans have to go to work the next day and with the track issues the past two year I thought it was good to take a year off and hopefully they can straighten everything out with their new management and get things rolling the right way again. Hopefully we can go back the next year if it all gets straightened up.”
With the support the South series get right now the thoughts are always how can we expand it to make it even better but by doing that you run the risk of over expanding to the point of having too many races and the series starts to decline in car counts and in the size of the crowds.
“We’ve had some other tracks call and want to be part of the series but I’m not looking to take 20 cars to the track. I know when we go to Susquehanna we don’t have a base of cars and if we get around 30 cars I am good with that but with our pay structure we can’t go to a track with only 18 to 20 cars so I have to be very careful with the tracks that we choose and the dates that we choose. There is so much racing in PA and NJ right now that we would be the ones left holding the bag because everyone racing but no one is paying like we are and when people get burned out we take the biggest hit because some of the other events are 10 to 15 thousand dollars less in total purse to what we pay so we have to be very selective with our events. If you look what 10th place pays most of the other special events in the region are half of what we pay so if people do get burned out and stop coming then we’re the ones that really take it on the chin more than the other special events so we have to be very careful in what we do.”
Deyo’s South Series tour events have given the NJ/PA fans something to look forward to each and every year. The Super DIRTcar Series is mostly run on tracks in the state of New York with an occasional foray to tracks outside of there but the STSS series south region is based down here and the traveling fan base for each event has seemed to have grown each year. It was also a common theme when I was talking to drivers over the off-season. One of the first things the most drivers would say to me when I asked them their plans for the upcoming season was they will be definitely run the Deyo South series. It is a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed to Deyo.
“It’s really neat to hear that. You know when we started this series it was based up in New York at tracks like Afton, Thunder Mountain and all those places and now we are very well know for our southern program. For a guy like me who started out in Afton, Thunder Mountain, Orange County and Accord it’s really a cool thing to hear from the drivers. We seemed to have filled the void for the fans that liked to see the SDS when they came down here to race. In a ways we are a lot like the old MODCAR that was back in the day with the southern program. There are a lot of talented racers in this area and people really love their racing and hopefully we can continue to put on a good product and getting different mixes of cars. I’ve seen more interest this winter in our southern program with drivers like Frank Cozze telling me we are going to make a run at it (title) and others as well so that’s a real good thing to have.”
Jeff Strunk hopes to improve on last year’s disappointing season in the Glen Hyneman #126. The team will embark on the same schedule as last year hopefully with much better results. The teams win in the Freedom 76 race did help offset the team’s bad year. The team has a new TEO chassis ready for the season along with a couple other Teo’s from last year. The Bicknell chassis the team purchased last year for Big Diamond has been converted to the team’s big block car to start off the season with…
Best looking car of the show for me was the Dave Zubikowski #17 in the Hig-Fab display. The car will be driven by Brian Krummel at Grandview along with other special events…
Speaking with Mike Heffner, owner of the Midget that Larry Wight drove in this year’s Chili Bowl, Mike is looking forward to have Wight come to central Pa this year and drive in a few more Midget events…
Jimmy Horton is busy getting his new Bicknell chassis ready for Florida Speedweeks. Horton still has last year’s TEO chassis in his garage and will be installing the teams open small block into it for STSS events…
The “Low Down & Dirty” radio show did a live broadcast at the show on Saturday. One of their many interviews during the day was with Billy Pauch Sr. who informed the boys that he will be going to Florida Speedweeks in a few weeks and will just pick and choose his schedule for this year. Pauch said he will run the Deyo South series, the Bridgeport Poker series and other high paying events in the area. Pauch stressed he just wants to have fun this year. The one he was certain about was that he will not be returning to the New Egypt Speedway at all in 2017…
Keith Flach informed me that he will be returning to the SDS this year after not being sure earlier this winter. Flach will once again run at Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley weekly along with the SDS. Flach also said the team is looking to get a spec 358 motor to run some of the Grandview specials when possible…
As always I can be reached for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25