This winter brought about the most sweeping changes in Ace Motor Speedway’s storied history. Combining the Limiteds and Late Models, altering many rules to line up with area tracks in some divisions, removing qualifying and a scuff tire program in both Late Models and Modifieds headline a host of changes for the upcoming season.
One change that new General Manager Mike Dailey won’t be making that he had planned to make was a change to a heat and feature format with the heat race paying points and the feature paying a purse. This would align Ace Speedway with many dirt tracks across the country that utilize a similar format. It’s designed to encourage competitive racing in both and to give racers more laps on the track each week.
Dailey has spent a lot of time talking with racers about the changes. Obviously with so many changes he’s been getting an ear full of thoughts on the changes. Some racers were ok with many of the changes while others weren’t happy at all. Dailey’s conversations have led him to make some adjustments to the program.
Dailey first decided to split the purse for the heat and feature races giving points and purse to finishers in both events. Upon further converstations with racers he’s made the decision to instead run twin races scrapping the idea of heats and features.
“I’m from the midwest, they just do things different out there,” said Dailey upon making the changes. “In this area the culture of the racers and the economy and everything is so different. The racers have been very convincing in the fact that a heat and feature program could be detrimental to their racing program.”
“The shorter laps and draws for starting position combined would put them at a greater risk to tear their cars up. I don’t want that. I think they can understand from talking to me that I’m just looking to bring some excitement to the track and to bring a program that will benefit not just the racers but the fans as well. But they explained to me very well that they could be one wreck away from ending their season and we’re not going to take that chance if we don’t have to.”
The new format will be twin feature races in every division. It’ll give the racers more laps to race, more chances to win races and more chances to score points. Dailey believes from talking to the racers that this was their greatest concern.
“The heat and feature format was the biggest thing that came up,” explained Dailey. “They aren’t all necessarily fans of scuff tires but it’s something almost all of them say they can live with. Most have come to realize that the carburetor change for the Late Models isn’t really a big deal and they don’t need to dyno their engines or change their cam as they might have thought originally. Every engine builder we’ve talked to agrees and I think the racers have come to this conclusion as well.”
Drivers will still have to draw for position for the first race of the night but as Dailey explained this is only to help racers get to the track without missing anything.
“Not qualifying and drawing for positions should really help more racers be able to make it to the track because they won’t have to be there until 8pm if they are coming from far away or if they have to work late. These guys are doing everything they can to get to the track on Friday nights and if we can make it even easier on them, why not do that? It just makes sense to try to accommodate everyone.”
The Late Model Stock Cars will run twin 35-lap features with the Modifieds competing in twin 25-lap races. The Mini Stocks will run twin 20’s and the U-Cars(which were formerly called Xtremes) will compete in twin 15-lap events. Dailey said he’s looking to add one more full-time division or a couple of divisions that will compete every other week but hasn’t decided what divisions may be added.
Another change to the race procedures will be the invert in between the twin races. Originally under the heat and feature format the winner of the heat race would have to start dead last in the feature and now with twin feature races the winner will spin the wheel to determine their starting position for the second feature.
“The invert and automatically starting the winner in last place was a huge concern of the racers as well. I don’t want them to tear their cars up and with equal laps in each of the races now it makes sense to use the wheel to determine the invert. That way the slowest cars won’t be potentially starting on the front row and the winner won’t have to worry about cars that aren’t at his same pace. We don’t want to tear cars up. We want great racing for the fans and a level playing field for the racers.”
The scuff tire program itself will be unique for Ace Speedway. Like many other tracks that offer a scuff program the track will sell four scuff tires for $160 but Ace racers will have another option. They’ll be able to bring their own tires and have them inspected and approved for the event for $100 set. The tires must meet a durometer minimum of 50 as well as a tread depth minimum of 5/32nds.
Dailey has also reduced the cost of the practice with test and tune sessions to $10 per person with a track license or $20 per person without. Weekly test and tune sessions have been moved from Wednesday to Thursday to offer area churches some quiet time for Wednesday night services.
“We want to be good neighbors,” explained Dailey. “Moving the practice session from Wednesday to Thursday doesn’t affect anyone but it makes us much more friendly to the local churches and the neighbors. They don’t want to hear cars practicing everyday and we don’t want to be a noisy neighbor.”
Dailey says that he knows that the plethora of changes this off-season have the racers a little worried and some thinking about not racing but he’s excited that the changes will improve the program at the track and give the track a chance to have long-term success.
“I’m not here for just one season. That’s not my goal at all. I want to build things so that Ace Speedway can be the track that it once was. This place is a fabulous facility and the racers and fans are second to none. Some changes had to be made for the financial stability of the track which has obviously not been there in years. If the racers will trust the process and come and try it out I’m certain they’ll have more fun and enjoy the racing that we’re going to put on. I know the fans will love it. The racing is going to be great this season.”
Ace Speedway is set to open next Friday April 1st for the first race of the season and then will run every other week until October.