By BILL FOLEY
Fulton Speedway fans are use to seeing the 99m Sportsman racing on the high banks every Saturday night as the veteran driver continues to be a contender on a regular basis.
However, many might not have a clue that this driver lives a totally different life at the Weedsport Speedway.
For this edition the exclusive Dirt Track Digest series Behind the Scenes with race-director Mike Phelps.
Dirt Track Digest: How did you become involved with racing?
Mike Phelps: “Our family always raced, starting with my father (Andy) and Uncle Roger, then later my brother, cousins and myself. Something the family has always done.”
DTD: What are you doing at the track you are at?
MP: “Currently I am race director at Weedsport Speedway.”
DTD: Explain duties as if no one understood what you do.
MP: “As race director, I manage the on track activities for a night of racing, from the schedule and timing to trying to keep a good pace to a show to ensure it doesn’t run too long. I work with all track officials to manage the races, communicate and direct officials and drivers throughout the racing. I make judgment calls to ensure the on track activity is fair and orderly. When necessary, I hand down penalties and relay important information to drivers, officials, track crew, safety crew and other track staff.”
DTD: What is your favorite part of the job?
MP: “Being part of such a great team. Weedsport is really a team effort as I’m sure all facilities are, but it’s great to go be involved in a sport that you’ve been passionate about you whole life and be surrounded by some of the best in the business.
“Dave Farney really taught me the role on the fly, never complained and has been a great mentor. Shane Andrews, a true pro, helps take every event to the next level. We have one of the most professional safety crews in the business. All around , Weedsport makes sure their best foot is always put forward and it’s a blast to play just a small role in it.”
DTD: What is your least favorite part of the job?
MP: “Making a bad call. We are human. It happens and all you can do is own it.”
DTD: Are you a fan and how hard is it to be one in relation to what you do?
MP: “I am certainly a fan, always have been and always will be. I really don’t believe it has had an impact on any calls to date and don’t anticipate it will. I find I lose myself in the race itself as an event, more than following individual results.”
DTD: How many years and what tracks have you worked at?
MP: “Six years at Weedsport Speedway and Kartway.”
DTD: What are some of your best memories?
MP: “No specific moments jump out, just the good nights that run smooth, are time efficient and fans leave happy after some great racing. Beating the weather when it looks to be a long shot is a good night too!”
DTD: What are some of your toughest ones?
MP: “Again, nothing real specific, any day at the track is a good day! (Without rain of course)”
DTD: Why do you keep doing what you do?
MP: “I enjoy what I do and where I do it, and it’s a chance to be with family and friends, my whole family is involved at Weedsport in one role or another.”
DTD: Was your family involved with racing and has anyone influenced you?
MP: “My family has always been involved, not so much on the track management side, that only came to be more recently, but yes, always involved in the competition side, and now both the competition and track operations. As for influences, the passion for the sport came from watching my Father (Andy) and Uncle Roger. They were a team that had a great deal of success as I grew up and it was cool to be around.”
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know would like to be included in Behind the Scenes just send a note to email@example.com or PM William Foley on Facebook.