Como Mod Series folds under economic crunchWatch a NASCAR race, Proctor Speedway president Crash Carlson said, and you see a lot more empty seats than you did 5-10 years ago.
By: By Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Watch a NASCAR race, Proctor Speedway president Crash Carlson said, and you see a lot more empty seats than you did 5-10 years ago.
A tough economy is likely to blame, and that has trickled to the grassroots level.
The Como Modified Series is done after its sixth season, Carlson confirmed Thursday. With big payouts and a previously unheard of year-ending purse, it was popular with Modified drivers who followed the 10-race series as it cross-crossed the Northland each summer.
Fans, however, didn’t always come out in droves for the midweek events, however.
“We can’t get people to come out on Friday, let alone Tuesday,” Carlson said. “It just got to be too much.”
Joey Jensen of Forest Lake, Minn., won the Como Modified Series finale this past weekend at ABC Raceway in Ashland. Dave Cain of Corcoran, Minn., took home the $10,000 top prize as series points champion, part of a $54,000 year-ending points purse that doesn’t even count all the money each individual race paid out. In all, Cain took home more than $23,000.
Joe Stariha, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Como Oil and Propane, said it’s his style to dream big, but he didn’t want to keep the series going if it couldn’t be the biggest and best around. Como will remain a dirt track sponsor, but in a more limited capacity, something that will allow “Como Joe” as he’s called, to spend more time with his two daughters.
“We’ve had six great years, and I just really wanted it to end on a high note,” Stariha said. “This was the toughest year we’ve ever had to secure sponsors, but we won’t drop off the face of the earth by any means. I love it and will still be around.”
Carlson said the series and the tracks often found themselves competing for the same sponsorship money, money that has become even more tight.
“Just watch NASCAR for five minutes, and that will tell you why we don’t have any people,” Carlson said. “At Dover, it looked like there was nobody in the grandstand. At a Bristol night race, you couldn’t get a ticket no matter what you did, but now, you can go up to the gate and just buy one. If it’s hurting them, it’s hurting us.”
ENDURO AT PROCTOR
Carlson said if you want to support your local track, come out to the year-ending enduro race at 1 p.m. Saturday at Proctor Speedway.
Enduro races are good money-makers for the track and feature mostly junk cars, many of which are hauled to the scrap heap after the race. Anybody can enter with just about any car, van or small pickup, although four-wheel drive isn’t allowed. All glass and exterior chrome have to removed, and the gas tank secured in the trunk, but that is about the extent of the rules.
The track is wetted down to keep speeds low, and most of the drivers are out there for a good time, although some take it very serious. The top prize for completing the most laps is $500.
Proctor Speedway has had as many as 135 enduro cars compete, but usually the field is between 50 and 100. The entry fee for car and driver is $51. The spectator fee for those 13 and over is $11, and for 6 to 12 it’s $2.
For more information, call Carlson at (218) 343-9623 or Steve Louks at (218) 940-1126.
-- Proctor Speedway had its annual election of officers on Wednesday night at the speedway, with positions remaining unchanged: Carlson, president; Kent Lunda, vice president; Lisa Walkowiak, secretary; Gus Omundson, treasurer; and Louks, Stariha, Jad Carlson, Don Roseen and Mark Fleischer serving on the board of directors.
-- Proctor Speedway’s annual awards banquet is Oct. 22 at the Buffalo House. Everybody is welcome but an RSVP is required. Cost is $25. Call Carlson for more information.
NORTHLAND DRIVERS IN TOP 5
Northland drivers are well represented in the Wissota national points standings, with four in the top five as of Oct. 1.
Leading the way is veteran driver Harry Hanson of Eveleth, who is second in the Late Model division with 1,623 points in 57 shows. Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, leads with 1,684 points in 64 shows. Kyle Peterlin of Hibbing is close behind in fourth with 1,617 points in 57 shows.
Kelly Estey of Kelly Lake is fourth in Modifieds, and Jeff Tardy of Hibbing is fourth in Super Stocks.
DOMINATOR NEW TO NATIONAL
The Amsoil Duluth National Snocross will feature a new showcase race this Thanksgiving: the $10,000-to-win AMSOIL Dominator.
The Friday night event will feature 16 riders in a bracket-style elimination format. Two riders will go head-to-head in each elimination race, with the winner moving on to the next round and the loser going back to the trailer. After four rounds, one rider will be left to collect the $10,000 payout.
“We wanted to do something new and exciting in Duluth,” said former Duluth snocross rider Carl Schubitzke, who is serving as International Series of Champions director of operations. “The Amsoil Dominator will be a fast-paced, man-versus-man, brand-against-brand event that will have race fans on the edge of their seats. This race will set the tone.”