Written by Cody Manmiller
EAST GREENBUSH, NY – With less than a week before he ventures south to the Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway for the first time, Bobby Hackel is more ready than ever to attack the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco in its 10th anniversary season.
“I am 100% all in,” Hackel said.
“I believe this style of rules package is the direction the sport is headed towards, and it’s taken a long time and a lot of help, but we’ve done a lot of work at Killer Crate and PMC Race Cars refining our program to get faster for Brett’s (Deyo, STSS founder) deal.”
Hackel, who will chase the STSS Elite and River Valley Builders North Series championships in 2023, has completely changed his program to fit this mold of racing.
“Two seasons ago, we took an older, spare car and a spare big-block engine and decided to run the North Series just to see what I could do,” Hackel remembers. “At about the halfway point, I was sold. I loved everything about it and enjoyed the challenge – it was very hard – but I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”
“Between going to Florida, going to Louisiana and the FloRacing deal, this is making the center-steer Modifieds closer to a national series,” he said. “And I want to be a part of it.”
When he rides into Hagerstown, Md. this weekend, he won’t be arriving with a spare big-block under the hood of a spare car.
“There are no more big-blocks here,” Hackel said. “We’ve gone all-in on the (STSS) motor package, and at PMC Race Cars, we’ve been refining our chassis packages and bodies for this.”
Although he’s never been to the track before – he did mention that he stopped for gas at the Hagerstown exit once – Hackel enjoys the idea of expanding into different regions and new tracks under the STSS banner.
“It’s awesome to see the expansion of our cars into new regions and states outside of the N.Y., N.J., Pa. hotbed. It certainly helps with sponsorship, showing that we are a part of a broader horizon, in addition to the massive amounts of views and ratings that our Flo races get,” Hackel added.
“I’ve been watching some film on YouTube of races at Hagerstown and looking at lap times to get an idea of what we’ll be starting at on Friday for practice night.”
In 2022, Hackel enjoyed a bit of an up-and-down season that showed a lot of promise throughout stretches. In the opening stand-alone STSS North Series race – the ‘Battle of the Bullring’ at Accord (N.Y.) Speedway – Hackel ran fourth, behind Mat Williamson, Danny Creeden and Andy Bachetti. He’d grab five more top-15 finishes on the North tour, including an eighth-place finish at the Orange County Fair Speedway to close out the season in seventh in the overall points standings, amassing more than $10,000 in earnings.
This year, with the revamped Elite Series purse structure – which pays a minimum of $12,000 to the winner, $2,000 for 10th and $1,000 to start at each of the five races – the money seems to be more evenly distributed throughout the field.
“Someday when I win one of these races, I’m going to wish the format wasn’t changed,” Hackel said with a laugh.
“For the week-to-week grind, though, traveling up and down the road, this structure is going to help a team like ours a ton,” he said. “Between putting tires on the car, paying for race fuel and for diesel in the truck, a solid night on this series and you’ll be paying the bills better than ever before.
“It will definitely help the smaller teams so much and should get more people going to more races and grow the car counts throughout.”
In addition to chasing the Elite and North Series schedules, Hackel will call BD Motorsports Media LLC New York State venues Fonda and Utica-Rome home come April and, in doing so, will chase the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National, Regional and State Championships.
“It’s really awesome that Fonda and Utica joined NASCAR,” Hackel, a former NASCAR track champion at Vermont’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway, said. “They invited me to Charlotte for their incredible banquet when I won at Devil’s Bowl, and with the money, accolades and trophies they provide racers, it’s just an awesome deal.”
With the NASCAR roots exploding in the Northeast this winter, Hackel sees an opportunity.
“On the surface, I have no real reason to travel down to DIS (Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del.),” Hackel continued. “Now, we are going to try and get there on March 31st (for the Jake Marine Memorial Season Opener) to get an early NASCAR race in and, if it goes well, can eliminate a bad race later in the year.
“It’s just exciting and brings a lot more to the table for our team,” he added.
The Modifieds returning to Hagerstown this Saturday is a momentous occasion for a lot of fans and drivers in the region. For Bobby Hackel, he hopes it’s another effective chapter in his journey.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.