Jukasa Motor Speedway has given Pro Late Model racers one million reasons to compete in future versions of the Canadian Short Track Nationals. Prior to the start of the inaugural $50,000-to-win (CAD) Pro Late Model race Sunday afternoon, track officials informed racers of their plans to increase the purse to $1 million by 2021.
Entering 2018, the Hagersville, Ontario track had produced an eye-opening $174,000 event purse. However, what’s even more eye opening is the planned increases for upcoming versions of the Canadian Short Track Nationals.
According to track management, the purse will nearly double to $300,000 in 2019 before jumping up to half-a-million dollars in 2020. In 2021, the plan is to feature an unprecedented $1 million purse.
“When we announced it at the driver’s meeting, before we announced it publicly, I was watching the driver’s faces; they were kind of in shock I think, but also very excited,” Jukasa Motor Speedway General Manager, Alex Nagy told Speed51.com. “The amount of response and lead-up press we got leading up to this event was overwhelming. I feel it’s going to continue to grow and have more competitors want to be a part of it, as well as the fans. We have fans already asking if they can reserve seats and camp sites for next year’s Canadian Short Track Nationals. That right there is a feather in the cap for our team.”
The 5/8-mile track, now in its second season since reopening after an eight-year period of silence, has seemingly entered the conversation of being one of North America’s go-to short tracks. In just a year’s time, the track has produced a handful of major events and attracted national attention, culminating this past weekend with the Canadian Short Track Nationals.
The CSTN featured a multitude of events, including Outlaw Super Late Models, the APC United Late Model Series and the event’s showpiece, a $50,000-to-win Pro Late Model race, which ended with Georgia’s Bubba Pollard in victory lane.
Even two days after the fact, the talk surrounding Jukasa and the event is still rampant among all involved.
“It was awesome. The positive responses from the fans, teams, and our partners; what our whole staff heard was remarkable,” Nagy stated. “We are super excited for how that all turned out. Of course, a lot of credit to the teams and our fans for coming from all over the place, and our staff for putting in three days straight of a crazy amount of hours and getting through the event.”
As is the case with all first-time events, there were some hiccups, but they were all overshadowed by the overwhelming accomplishments of the weekend.
“All and all, we exceeded expectations with our first Canadian Short Track Nationals,” Nagy said. “I think that when you put something like that on, you’re always worried about being ready. We probably felt that we weren’t ready, but as it turned out for the most part we were ready. We’ll take a lot from it, learn, adjust and adapt to make the next one bigger and better.”
The plans for Jukasa Motor Speedway go far beyond the Canadian Short Track Nationals, with the remainder of the track infrastructure set for a major revamp heading into 2019. This includes: replacing the current grandstands, the installation of a spectator crossover bridge to the infield and the raising of the main tower following grandstand reconstruction.
“We will continue to improve where we can on the race track and competition side of things. We feel we now have one of the premier short tracks itself in play and we want to continue to improve on the fan experience side of things. That’s our focus right now moving forward. When we are done with our final event this year, which is the NASCAR Pinty’s Series season finale September 29, not too long after we’ll be able to start depending on the engineering logistics and get as much done as we can.”
Following a period of dormancy after the original Cayuga Speedway closed in 2009, the track was purchased by Ken Hill and Jerry Montour of Grand River Enterprises just a few years ago with the intention of turning the facility in Canada’s crown jewel oval track.
“I always say I’m fortunate of course. I’ve been given the resources and tools to do what our goal has been from day one: make it a premier race track in North America, which I feel we’re on our way,” Nagy claimed. “It sure makes things, I don’t know if easier is the right word. I guess the potential to do things and have the resources to reach those goals is an honor, and it’s pretty exciting.”
With the facility receiving more and more attention, many people in the industry are beginning to look at Jukasa as a potential landing spot for one of NASCAR’s top three national series. While Nagy indicated that in its current state the track is not in such a position to do so, he feels that the time may be coming. While building its relationship with NASCAR through the Pinty’s Series, Jukasa has made it clear to NASCAR that they hope to be able to host much more in the future.
“We would absolutely love to have one, two, or all the national series of NASCAR here for sure,” Nagy said. “NASCAR knows what our intentions are and what we would like to do. It’s not like they haven’t heard. I understand that there is a process, to say that we’re ready today would be a lie, but we’re getting ready. If something came a little bit closer to fruition, we’d be ready quicker. But that’s what we’re building towards. If one of those opportunities comes our way, we’ll do our best to make everyone happy to hold a highly regarded event.”
Jukasa Motor Speedway wraps up their 2018 schedule with the Pinty’s Fall Brawl, the season finale for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Saturday, September 29.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos