“There was really nothing to it.”
Those were the words of Pro All Stars Series promoter Tom Mayberry just days after announcing that his series reached an agreement with American-Canadian Tour promoter Tom Curley for the 2015 racing season. Curley echoed Mayberry’s words by saying that the groundbreaking deal reached between the two parties took just over two weeks of discussions to finalize.
“When the opportunity came up for the two of us to sit down and chat we really didn’t discuss our past differences very much,” Curley told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We rolled right into the possibilities that existed and how we’d benefit each other’s programs.”
Thus far, the agreement between the two series includes a doubleheader at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on April 18, 2015 and a visit to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Vermont on May 24, 2015 for the PASS North series.
The initial announcement, made last Thursday afternoon by series officials, served as a bright ray of sunshine for Late Model racing fans and teams in the Northeast. No longer do fans have to decide which April opener or July spectacular to attend. No longer do race teams have to decide which $25,000-to-win event they want to attempt to cash in on.
Any and all differences between two long-time promoters have been set aside for the betterment of the sport, its fans and its competitors.
“I think the asphalt short track racing all over the country is going through a cycle where it needs to be energized and needs a shot of positive injection,” Curley said on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve been thinking about that for the last couple of years and I don’t usually shoot from the hip so I thought about all the possibilities to improve the landscape.
“One of those negatives that has always been hanging over the Northeast has been this Late Model division. The opportunity came along to try to do something about it and I think both Tom Mayberry and I were anxious to try to find some common ground and solutions going forward to improve the landscape.”
Although there has always been a long-standing perception that the two Tom’s didn’t see eye-to-eye, they never lost respect for each other.
They both work hard to improve their product. They both stick up for what they believe to be the best interest of their series. And they both know how difficult it is to run a premier Late Model touring series that keeps fans, drivers and teams happy.
“I raced for him years ago and we always got along,” Mayberry told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Then I think a couple things happened that got blown out of proportion. I think that maybe him and I didn’t communicate enough about it. I don’t think there were ever any hard feelings, but we went different directions. But also, I don’t think that either one of us ever, ever lost respect for what the other person was doing.
“If there’s anyone who knew how much effort he puts into the stuff over the years, it would be me. I’ve been down the same road and him vice-versa. I think that way we gained a lot of respect for each other because you know how much effort goes into something like this.”
Curley also respects the large amount of work that Mayberry puts into his products while managing the PASS North and South tours, as well as Oxford Plains Speedway. Curley has spent time managing multiple series while promoting the ACT series north of the border in Canada. Those tasks alone were tough enough for him at the time.
“In Tom’s case, I can’t even imagine how he does it,” said Curley. “I run a pretty tough schedule but I can’t imagine what it’s like back and forth between the Carolinas and the northeast, as well as running a race track. All of that at the same time is a big load. He’s seemed to do all of that with success.”
From a promoter’s standpoint, the agreement between the two series is a win-win for both Mayberry and Curley. Although both series are similar in the fact that they are considered Late Models, they each offer fans and drivers a different style of racing. Being able to offer those different styles of racing to the fans of each series at their “home tracks” has both promoters excited for what’s in store for 2015.
“ACT cars are very, very finesse and momentum-driven,” said Mayberry. “They’re not forgiving at all. Those guys that drive those cars are extremely talented. Every little inch counts a lot. With a Super (Late Model) there’s more horsepower, it’s not quite so much momentum and I think they’re a little bit more forgiving. I think we have two products that can be similar but really a lot, lot different. I just think it’s going to be really good working together.”
Both sides have left the door open for more opportunities moving forward and plan to sit down to discuss those opportunities soon. At this time, nothing additional has been agreed upon besides the dates for both tours at Oxford and Thunder Road.
“There’s always two ways to look at these things,” said Curley. “Quite often you creep before you crawl and experiment a little bit and hope you hit the right chords. The other way is just to take a piano, put it in front of you, pound on it and hope that music comes out. I think that somewhere we’re trying to find a balance.
“I think going forward we’re going to take it in stride and if we can pull out a couple more rabbits we’ll do it. If we can’t, I think we have some long-term plans that are very viable.”
Whether a few more rabbits are pulled out of the hat or not, one thing is for certain: Late Model racing in the Northeast has a very bright future after last week’s announcement.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com