Commentary by: Langley Austin ~ [email protected]

Altamahaw, NC(January 26, 2013) — For the last couple of seasons, one name has been talked about more than any other when you hear of Ace Speedway.  That name is Brad Allen, the General Manager that brought respect and honor back to the beautiful 4/10 mile track for the first time in years.

Recently, it was announced that Allen would be moving into the same role at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, NC.  Allen has since assumed his role as General Manager of the track that reopened last season after several years of being shut down.  Allen became part of the management after years of competing at the track himself but now, with him moving on, Ace’s future has been in question.

Many people have had the feeling tha,t without Allen’s leadership, Ace Speedway would be left in ruin.  Allen, who called the track home for years, had led the track to a resurrection with a staff full of people who cared deeply for the track.  Allen’s staff helped put Ace back on the map, but one factor seemed to be a sticking point keeping the track from the success it so richly deserved.

Abraham Woidislawsky became the new owner of the track in August of 2006 and, from there, began a string of different management teams and mounting debt that was accumulated as bills went unpaid.  Under Woidislawsky’s ownership, Ace Speedway had become the laughing stock of the short track racing world.  The track lost its prominent NASCAR sanctioning and drivers and fans were fleeing fast.  Ace Speedway was no longer the prominent track that it had become under the previous ownership.

That’s where Allen came in.  On the heels of more management changes than most race tracks will see in more than 50 years, Allen took charge.  The track was in the worst shape it had been since it was built in 1950’s and Allen had to start from a deep hole as he worked to turn the track around.  We all know what happened.  Allen eliminated the debt that was hovering over the speedway as he worked closely with Woidislawsky to get Ace going in the right direction.

At the end of 2011 season, Allen’s second at the track, he was on the verge of moving on.  Allen and Woidislawsky had been butting heads and things were going nowhere fast as the track looked to be headed back down a bad road.  Allen ultimately met with Woidislawsky and returned to head the track for a third season in 2012, but little did he know when it started that it’d be his last.  Allen would once again find himself butting heads with Woidislawsky and this time his tenure at the track would come to an end.

As Allen announced his departure from Ace in late 2012, fans and drivers began to wonder what would happen to their favorite track.  Many look at Allen as their savior and, without him, many wondered if the track would even reopen.  A couple of months went by with nothing coming from the track.  Doom and gloom was on everyone’s tongue about the facility and no news made things worse.

On January 16th, the news of Allen’s departure finally broke.  Effectively, fans and drivers looked at Ace as dead, but the track still appeared to have life as rumors began of a new General Manager being put in place.  Local track employee Red Justice and former Friendship Motor Speedway General Manager Randy Myers led the list of names being bantered about.  The tracks official position is that many candidates had applied and that a new General Manager will be in place soon.

So that leaves us with the million dollar question.  Is Ace Speedway more than one person?  Brad Allen certainly thinks so as he posted recently to Ace Speedway’s official Facebook page this message: “Receiving lots of interest in vacant GM position, some of which are very amusing. I guess if Friday nights looked easy then we were doing our jobs well. I will be assisting in the search and hope to have a replacement by Feb. 2 – Ace is more than any one person and WILL operate in 2013!!!”

Allen is right.  Ace Speedway is much more than one person.  It’s much more than two people or 10 people.  Ace Speedway is a huge group of racers, fans and sponsors.  I personally attended my first race there in 1999, just after the track was renovated by then owner David Morton into the format it’s in today.  Many of the drivers, fans and sponsors that are there supporting Ace today were there on the first night I attended a race there.

In fact many of the people that support that track are the same people and families that have been a part of the track from the very beginning dating back to at least the 1950’s.  Brad Allen should certainly be commended for the job that he’s done at Ace.  I’m not about to take anything away from what he’s accomplished there and what he did to bring Ace out of some very dark days.

However, the people that are most important at Ace aren’t Brad Allen and Abraham Woidislawsky.  Rather, the people who have been most important to the tracks long lasting success are those that have been dedicated to it for a very long time.  On the first night I attended a race there Late Model drivers RD Smith, Robert Turner and Todd Massey were a part of the field.  Those three drivers all competed there this season.

Another fixture there (that I remember) is two-time track champion Dustin Rumley’s father Mark.  He was competing at Ace in that time period as well.  Those people and many others are all still there and are very much a part of the Ace Speedway family.  It’s those kinds of people coupled with a new breed that loves the track just as much that have made Ace Speedway one of the most supported tracks in the region.

Certainly no one knows what to expect for 2013.  Allen’s absence will almost certainly be felt, but I have to believe that even like it was in the darkest days of Ace before Allen took over, the Ace diehard fans will be there.  They’ll be there rallying around whoever the new General Manager is.  That person will get the benefit of the doubt from the start, but after that he’ll have to earn the Ace Speedway families respect.  He’s got big shoes to fill, but Ace isn’t going anywhere.

Ace Speedway IS more than one person.  It’s more than Brad Allen. It’s more than Abraham Woidislawsky.  It’s more than one driver, one division, one team or one fan.  And, it’s going to take more than one of any of them to shut the place down.