Over the last three decades many of our nation’s short tracks have been lost to the pages of history more often than new ones have risen to carry on the legacy. Even rarer have been the instances where a track has come back from a quiet slumber with such immediate results.
That has been the story of Delaware’s Georgetown Speedway these past few seasons, since Brett Deyo and the BD Motorsports staff assumed control of the seven decades old dirt half-mile in 2016. Deyo and his staff have brought Georgetown back to the forefront of Northeast dirt tracks on a just a shoe-string budget, but also with the help of a loyal driver roster and eager fan base.
This month, the effort and loyalty all culminated with Georgetown Speedway being voted as Speed51.com’s 2017 Short Track of the Year. It is an award that Deyo and his busy crew take very seriously.
“That’s a big honor for us, there is no full-time staff here. During the day, I’ll take out the garbage cans between returning phone calls and doing the PR and all that stuff,” Deyo told Speed51.com. “We do everything ourselves on a super low budget here.”
This weekend Georgetown is set to begin its third year under BD Motorsports management, with the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The season opener for the Short Track Super Series Modifieds takes center stage on Saturday.
Even after a solid year of racing at Georgetown for both the STSS and weekly teams, the staff has been hard at work completing a two-year facelift to the track surface. The new layout in the turns will feature progressive style banking in the turns on both ends, as well as a wider footprint, especially in turns one and two.
“We’ve had some pretty good racing, but I’m looking at great racing,” Deyo explained. “The banking on the outside of the track I think is going to bring the extreme outside lane to life and put it into play. It’s something that’s been on my mind since I got the track three years ago, but it took a tremendous amount of material to do it.”
“Our second year we put over 200 loads of clay on the track and now in our third year we put another 220 loads on the track,” Deyo stated. “It took almost 500 loads to raise the tops of the turns to where they are now. There are some places in turns one and two that are over five feet higher then what it was when we got the track.”
Since the completion of the project mid-winter, teams have taken test laps on the new turns to provide input and work in the new surface. From the initial run by Stewart Friesen over a month ago to an open practice last Saturday, all the reviews have been positive.
“It was really well received, the track was really smooth last Saturday, which was good. The challenge for a dirt track when you have an earlier start like we will on Saturday, is to keep some moisture in it, so we’ve been working on some different strategies,” Deyo said. “But everything so far has been really positive. The race track was actually built with high banking in 1950 and over the years different people have come in and it’s also sat idle for a while, so we’re working on getting back to that original layout with the high-banked turns.”
As for how the track will be under racing conditions and what kind of racing will be expected, only time will tell. For Short Track Super Series teams who have yet to try it out, every second of track time will be sure to count.
Ryan Godown, who won the last STSS event at Georgetown in October, isn’t entirely sure what he’ll be up against this weekend. Godown will even be bringing both a Big-Block and a Small-Block Modified to the track Friday, but is not sure which he will race Saturday.
“To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s going to favor the Big-Blocks or Small-Blocks, I don’t know. I watched practice, I went back and watched the videos of a couple of races from last year,” Godown said.
But the unknowns only seem to be boosting the excitement for a weekend that Deyo believes will be the biggest in a long time for the track, and will be the biggest in the history of the Short Track Super Series, which will also be running its 50th Modified race in series history.
“We got people coming from all over the Northeast and Canada, the phones are ringing off the hook and people are excited,” Deyo said. “I would say it’s going to be the biggest opening weekend we’ve ever had for the track and the series. To have our 50th race be in the middle of it makes it even more exciting.”
Racing action for the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial begins Friday night, featuring Small-Block Modifieds in a 30-lap, $4,049-to-win open feature. Hot laps begin at 6:20 with post time for racing at 7:15. It all carries on to Saturday, with the season opening 49-lap, $6,949-to-win feature for the Short Track Super Series Modifieds. Hot laps roll off at 3:00 and post time for racing is 4:00.
Fans who are unable to make the trip to Georgetown Speedway can watch both the STSS Modifieds and Crate 602 Sportsman on Speed51.com for FREE as a premium subscriber to the Speed51 Network. Click here to join the network today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Mark Pettyjohn