On the heels of another season of competition for the Race of Champions getting off the ground in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, RoC head principal Joe Skotnicki came on Speed51's "Morning Bullring" early Monday to discuss the hectic winter and the season that lies ahead.
After scrambling to put together a schedule for all of the RoC Asphalt divisions, including Tour-type Modifieds, Sportsman Modifieds, Late Models, Super Stocks, Four-Cylinders, and TQ Midgets without the flagship track at Lancaster National Speedway, plus helping to shape the racing season at Spencer Speedway, it seemed the Skotnicki and his staff had everything ready to go.
That is until Lancaster came under new ownership.
"It’s been a busy offseason for us, taking on the Spencer project with Jeff Demink, and not really knowing what’s going to happen at (Lancaster). Finally being able to put something together there was kind of landmark for us and we’re looking forward to getting back to racing at Lancaster," Skotnicki said on The Morning Bullring.
Skotnicki went on to explain the deal with Lancaster, a cooperation between a pair of drag racers and the short track organization that is the RoC, to restore the 5/8-mile oval racing program.
"It’s a unique story. Two drag racers got together, Vito Antonicelli he’s a local car builder and nationally recognized on the drag racing side, and a local business man Mike Swinarski who’s also big on the drag racing side, somehow were able to put a deal together to purchase the track. They were looking for help and experience in running the Stock Car program. Rather than put them in the situation where they were paying someone double, we have all the capabilities to do it a couple of times."
With Lancaster having been the foundation of the RoC schedule these past number of years, Skotnicki and the entire short track community in Western New York are more than thankful to be back.
"That place has not just become home, it has become so exciting, and there’s so much energy when we run there," he stated. "I think that with the unknown now known, it’s going to be even better this year that people recognize that we need to just be thankful and grateful that Vito and Mike stepped up and we have a place to race."
Not only will Lancaster, plus the tracks of Spencer Speedway, Hillside Buffalo, Lake Erie Speedway, and Chemung Speedrome play host to the RoC Asphalt Modified Series, but also the aforementioned divisions that run under the RoC banner, series which have come to play a crucial role in supporting all of the region's short track racing.
"The core product is the Modified division, but when we looked at it we thought, what’s going to happen when guys like Chuck Hossfeld eventually retire? So we started looking at way to create feeder systems, and now we got seven divisions. Somedays it gets a little overwhelming, but they are all looking stronger and stronger because the weekly stuff has gone away in Western and Central New York. So those guys need places to justify investing in a racecar, and we have been able to provide that."
First up for the RoC is Cheming Speedrome this coming Saturday, May 18; a track that is as unpredictable as it is exciting.
"You’re going to be looking at a pretty exciting show. All the players will be back, Matt Hirschman will be there, Chuck Hossfeld will be there, Andy Jankowiak is gearing up for the championship. Chemung is wild place. When you pull in for the first time, you think, there’s the racetrack, there’s the groove and everything else, and the cars go out. It’s one of the most challenging places to officiate a race because of how the cars race and the passing that’s going on. The different lines, it’s almost like watching a road course every lap. If you’ve never been there, put it on the bucket list."
For more on Speed51's conversation with Joe Skotnicki, check out the latest episode of 'The Morning Bullring' on Speed51.com.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com