By MIKE MALLETT
Chris Larsen was very happy in victory lane on Sunday afternoon as he celebrated with his driver Stewart Friesen. Larsen had just pulled off the 57th running of Eastern States weekend where the car counts were spectacular and the crowd for the weekend topped 25,000 people while Friesen earned the main-event win. In all aspects, the weekend was a success.
“I really feel good for everyone that has been working so hard here to turn the place around,” commented Larsen afterwards. “Not for me, but for the staff, Mike Gurda and everybody else. To see the crowd and see things that worked. To see the people that came back and the amazing field. It was a stacked field and a great race. It really is a great sense of accomplishment after the whole year.”
Larson has indicated he has HUGE plans for the 2019 season. Those plans include a special event to celebrate to 100 years of racing at the facility. It is the oldest continually operating racing facility in the country. There are several rumors as to what the event will be, but Larsen wasn’t quite ready to let the cat out of the bag.
“With the event I want to coordinate it with DIRT(car) and some other local tracks,” stated Larsen. “I don’t want to put anybody out of business with an event that shuts people down, but it’s going to be big enough that they are going to hopefully cooperate around it and maybe be involved in it. We really want to celebrate the 100th year. It’s not just the track. This is racing in its 100th year. We want to let everyone in on this celebration next year.”
The success of Eastern States Weekend gives Larsen confidence going into the 2019 season and the major event planning. Yes there were hiccups like any major event, but overall the weekend brought back the prestige of Eastern States and the Orange County Fair Speedway.
“It is some positive reinforcement is the maybe the right term,” mentioned Larson. “We have some big stuff planned that was probably going to happen anyway, but now we can be confident about what we want to do. The size of this crowd gives us a lot of sense of what we have to do in order to handle a bigger crowd.”
If the big event is what is rumored, there is no doubt it will certainly be special and one of the biggest Modified events in history of our sport.