Prior to the 2018 racing season Hudson, New Hampshire native and former racer Ben Bosowski took purchase of his hometown’s old racing stomping grounds, Hudson Speedway, with one goal in mind, giving the quarter-mile the comeback story it so rightfully deserved.
Becoming a barebone facility in multiple aspects, Hudson has gained and maintained a reputation as a favorite track among New England drivers, from Pure Stocks and Strickly Stocks all the way up to Pro Stocks and 350 Supermodifieds.
Slowly over the past season, Bosowski and his staff have worked hard to begin restoring the condition of the facility back to matching its racing quality. Starting with simple tasks such as a fresh coat of paint on the buildings, to bringing back noteworthy events, such as the Granite State Pro Stock Series to the Gate City Classic.
As soon as the season ended in mid-fall, the race to begin improvements before winter’s arrival began with a massive pit expansion to a major safety upgrade in the form of new walls on the track’s outside, and a new look to the spectator experience.
“The track has kept me super busy. We got a good amount of the walls done, and the pits are cleaned up but not exactly where I want them because we had to stop because of the frostline. We still got a lot done. I was surprised how much we did,” Bosowski told Speed51.com.
First, the matter of the pit area. Hudson’s pit area is not that big, at all. It's pinned in by a hill, public road, wetlands, and wooded area between it and turn one and two of the racetrack. With expansion impossible on three of those sides, only the option of cutting trees and filling ditches to the outside of the turns remained. But already, the work had been worth it with the perimeter being extended a full 65 feet.
“There was a ditch that was around turns one and two that didn’t really do anything, so I put some drainage in, smoothed it off and transitioned it because the grades are a lot different from where the pits were to turn one and two. After all that you wouldn’t believe how much space that gave us.”
With the expanded pits came the need for a proper retaining wall in one and two with the runoff now gone. This wall would be formed by the addition of a number of pre-made concrete blocks.
But, Bosowski had no plans on stopping there, extending the wall from the turn two pit exit all the way around to join up with existing frontstretch wall.
This would eliminate two of Hudson’s most infamous dangers, the thick woods beyond turns three and four which would swallow cars up, and the “ugly” tire barrier to the outside of the backstretch, which could destroy a perfectly good racecar.
“They are 3x3x3 concrete blocks, we ordered 285 of them, placed them in one by one, and made sure there was a nice contour to them. It looks great from what it used to look like with that ugly tire wall to the nice blocks with about four feet of fill behind them. It looks like a whole different track.”
While driver experience and safety is a top priority, Bosowski is also overseeing the start of another project to do the same for the fans. First, ripping out the remains of the original grandstands and setting up new grandstands which will line the entire top of the frontstretch hillside, giving more fans a better view while keeping them out of harm’s way.
“We tore out the old stands because I didn’t like how far they went down to the flag stand. Just because of the long climb and in case something flies off from the track. We have a good catch fence, I’m just being cautious. We’ll be adding new ones that are actually wider, they’ll go across the whole top of the hill, versus just the center. Should end up being around 1,500 to 2,000 seats.”
Perhaps Hudson’s most bareboned characteristic that remains is the scoring system. All by hand, no transponders, no electronics, with just a lap count for the fans. Now, even this is set to be a thing in the past with plans to install modern electronic scoring for race control, and a scoreboard for race fans outside of the backstretch.
“We are finally getting a scoreboard and a transponder system, finally pulling that part of the track out of the 1940’s. I went to PRI, met a bunch of the guys at MyLaps; so we’re ready to bring this place up to the benchmark that I want it at.”
These projects, while major, are still just the beginning of Bosowski’s grand plan.
“There’s still a lot more to be done, but it’s just little stuff that takes a lot of time to do. It’s a dream come true to even own the track, I’m slowly getting it to where I want it. This is my vision of Hudson from when I first went there as a kid all those years ago.”
Even with major construction on pause for the winter freeze, Hudson’s loyal hometown fanbase is already excited for what’s to come. Some not even having the patientce to wait for 2019’s Opening Day.
“The townspeople love it, all the race teams are excited to come back and race there. Hudson is a great track, but everything else has stayed the same for years, and now that’s all getting a facelift. Everyone wants to see when it is done, heck people have stopped in every Saturday when we’re working just to get a sneak peek.”
What’s more, Hudson’s revival is only part of the puzzle of what has been a regional revival across southern New Hampshire the past two years or so, with racetracks such as Claremont Speedway and Star Speedway receiving improvements of their own, to Lee USA Speedway and most recently Monadnock Speedway also getting fresh ownership, in both these cases from Norm Wrenn Jr. and his family and friends.
All this has culminated in the five tracks coming together to collaborate on a number of topics, including rules for a number of different racing divisions popular in the region with an alliance called the New Hampshire Short Track Racing Association (NHSTRA).
It is a cooperation that Bosowski and many others have been dreaming of for years, and that it could very well give a further boost to Hudson’s Sunday evening programs in the years to come.
“We all have been working on a lot of stuff getting all the tracks working together on the same rules, operating procedures, and more. It’s been great, the racers are happy that they can now go from one track to another and not have to change anything. I remember my father back in the day going from track to track and not having to do anything. That’s what we want. The average racer can go from Claremont or Lee on Friday, to Monadnock or Star on Saturday, and finish up at Hudson on Sunday.”
Stay with Speed51.com for more on Hudson Speedway and the NHSTRA as we roll into 2019.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Featured Photo Credit: Hudson Speedway Facebook