by Mike Fields
March 13, 2016, Drums, PA— “I’m speechless,” Evergreen Raceway Public Address Announcer stated. “I’m absolutely speechless!” Such was the understandable reaction when he realized that the car counts for the 4-cylinder Enduro race was going to demolish the previous decade-old record of 103 cars for an Enduro event when 130 cars took the green.
Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny Spring day as we drove out from Long Island to Evergreen Raceway (nee Mountain Speedway). Located in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, it’s a beautiful drive from my home in Long Beach, Long Island, where the driving time is about 2 hours and 45 minutes when there is no traffic. In a decade and a half, however, I’m still waiting for the day when there is no traffic!
The track has reopened under new management after closing for a couple of years. Former driver Jason Makarewicz (J-Mac) is the new track lease holder, promoter, track manager, and jack-of-all-trades. Also, for those planning on attending for the first time, the address location to input into your GPS is 183 Mill Mountain Road, Drums, PA 18222.
For yesterday’s March Enduro Madness, the plan called for running a 30-lap open competition race, 100-lap 6/8-cylinder race, and a 100-lap 4-cylinder race. This is actually the second event to be held in 2016 after the January 10th season opening Snowball Enduro.
One of the companies that the track has picked up is CK Auto Service and Race Fab of Quakertown, PA as the 2016 Victory Lane sponsor. Three other track sponsors that have been picked up are DeFebo Graphics (a long-time sponsor of Evergreen and Mountain), Cargill Meats, and Hazle Brand Meats.
Race fans and teams will have plenty of chances to see the sponsor logos as the track has planned an aggressive slate of racing for the 2016 season which has already started, and lasts through their final October 29th Halloween Enduro. In between, the track will have their Evergreen Modifieds, Street Stocks, Factory Stocks, Pro Stocks, Late Models, Dirt Modifieds, Tour-type Modifieds, 4-cylinder, Big Wheels races, Powder Puffs, INEX Legends, Bandolleros, Atlantic Coast Old Timers, American Three Quarter Midget Association, and Garden State Vintage Stock Car Club. The full schedule is available on their website at www.EvergreenRacewayPark.com and click on ‘Schedule’. It’s much too large to print and dissect here. The divisions listed on the website are still a bit of a work in progress, dependent upon how many cars support the track, how often, etc.
When we got to the track at 10:20am, about 40 minutes before the announced opening of the pit entrance, we found the pits had been opened at 9:00am, and the pits were absolutely packed. By 11:30, with cars still coming, they had to be parked out front, near the front gate.
“It’s a great problem to have,” J-Mac told us with a big smile.
A race report from Gene Ostrowsks’s Press Release from Evergreen Raceway is elsewhere on www.MyRaceNews.com.
It was another interesting drivers’ meeting that we attended. Normally, these can be very dry affairs, where everyone attempts to hide the yawns. Still, somebody does need to explain that when the RED flag is displayed, it means that you stop, and do it just as if there is a state trooper behind you. ‘Ya know, just like the big boys and girls do! Unfortunately, there were several drivers (yes, I’m trying NOT to use the word ‘idiots’ so that I can tell everyone I’m turning over a new leaf) that if anything, sped up, flying a full half a track (that’s at least two turns) past every other stopped car. It’s unfortunate that a few people decided to put the safety of many at risk. To them, it didn’t matter at all that cars had flipped, and safety crews were rushing to their aid.
Numerous announcements to the drivers over the radio were made during the race (and simply ignored). A firm policy must be put in place, announced at the drivers’ meetings, and enforced! If they can’t play under track rules, let them go back to their kindergarten playground and play on the swing set there. It was a situation that ticked off many.
Another subject that should be raised, you wouldn’t think would need to. We were amazed at how many drivers came out on the track without window nets, gloves, etc. Even some of the cars with nets looked like window screens designed to keep flies out of your home’s front door. Do people really need to be told they need the published safety equipment? Obviously, the officials looked for these problems, and drivers were immediately sent off the track until corrections were made.
We can definitely see INEX Legend drivers whose seasons haven’t yet started, coming out from Long Island, Connecticut, and wherever Legends cars are run for next week’s race on the 20th. Their website boasts only a SEVEN-dollar grandstand admission for the day. If you are a military member, senior or handicapped, check the site for discounts on that price that would make the admission even less! The show will also include 4-cylinder Enduros and INEX Bandoleros.
Front gate admission for the general public for Evergreen’s regular shows will be only $10 bucks. Kids 10 and under are free. You’ve just got to love the pricing away from major metropolitan areas! The official track tire for 2016 will be Hoosiers supplied by Mid Atlantic. Race Fuel will be by Insinger Race Fuels. A parts supplier will still need to be decided. “Nobody has contacted us yet,” J-Mac said.
What’s great about the facility is the improvements that have been made, and still going on throughout the facility. There is a new PA system, Scoring System, scoreboard that is hooked up to the transponders, new siding on the scorer’s booth and the tech booth in the first corner, and new electrical wiring throughout the facility. Ongoing work which has already commenced is remodeling in the kitchen and new toilet facilities in the pit area (which hopefully will be open at the beginning of the regular season).
Besides J-Mac being the new head honcho, Heyle Fisher is the Head Scorer, Chris Walk is the Head Starter, Kris Fisher is the Office Manager, and former racer Jeff Owler the Race Director.
Of course, with new management, there are problems that will need to be ironed out. There was the problem of pit crew members, drivers, etc. that crowded along the backstretch wall to watch the racing action, which was scary. Debris could easily be launched from any point and go over the wall unobstructed to strike one of the people. Another problem was when one driver was disqualified for numerous unsafe actions while under the red flag despite repeated warnings, the promotor overruled (Race Director) Jeff Owler, and allowed the offending driver to come back out on the track.
J-Mac has to show support for the people that he hires to a job, and let them to actually DO their jobs. Sure, mistakes will be made, and you chew them out after the races in private; not over a radio heard by everyone. When Jeff heard that he was overruled, he took it with good grace, and just went forward.
It was soon evident that another mistake was that there was no Speedy Dry to soak up oil and fuel spills. It was commented over the officials’ radio that the fans were getting restless waiting over an hour for the cars to get on the track, do transponder checks and finally get the race started for the 130 4-cylinders. That was an understandably lengthy process.
We understand that a new sign is on order, as there was no signage viewable to let drivers, crews, spectators, etc. know where the track entrance was.
Workers were talking about holding a staff-wide meeting after the event to go over everything that worked well, and anything that didn’t to make future corrections. That is what any successful organization does to insure its future success, and this should work well for Evergreen.
In many ways, the track staff was overwhelmed, but had a successful day. The drivers on the most part, had fun, a great day, left happy, and will be back for future events. With experience, repetitiveness, and good old fashioned ‘stick-to-it-ivness’, this facility could very easily become the gold mine we’ve always thought it could be. We will Jason, Jeff, Geno and the rest of the staff a great initial season.
Comments, questions, and complaints will always reach us at email@example.com, or give us a call at (516) 376-4028…
by Mike Fields