The Valenti Modified Racing Series had big shoes to fill when Scott Tapley resigned as race director in June. They tried out a 19-year-old Jordan Harnish, who had very little experience in that type of role, on an interim basis. Series president Jack Bateman even stepped in for a couple of races. Now, the series thinks they’ve finally hit the nail on the head with their new selection in longtime flagman John Spence Jr.
The 40-year-old from Weare, N.H. will take over the race director position on an interim basis starting this weekend in Plattsburgh, N.Y. at Airborne Park Speedway.
Spence, the son of VMRS announcer John Spencer, Sr., was quick to stress that as of now this is just for the end of the 2014 season.
“Jack and I will sit down over the winter and talk about 2015,” said Spence. “I got a call this week from Jack and he asked if I wanted to finish out the season as race director.”
Bateman said that he would be thrilled to have Spence continue on into next season and beyond.
“I would love to have him continue to go forward,” said Bateman. “But that’s a decision that he will have to make.”
Bateman believes that Spence’s abilities to control a race from the flagstand will translate over to success in the tower, but he believed that the length of Spence’s tenure with the series so far was of even importance when making this decision.
“I think that the biggest thing is experience and knowledge of the series itself,” said Bateman. “I think that is the most important thing. We thought he’d make a good race director and it looks like he’s going to do a really good job.”
Spence said that already having a relationship with the competitors will make his transition to the tower go smoother.
“A lot of the guys know me from when I flagged,” said Spence. “I don’t put up with any B.S., or any rough driving. So I think it’s a good thing for them to know that even though I’m up in the tower now it is business as usual.”
The series had been looking for a full-time race director after Tapley left. They went with Harnish for a few races before Bateman realized that wasn’t working out.
“Jordan is a really, really good kid,” said Bateman. “But I don’t think he was quite ready. I think in the future he’s going to be a real good official, but I just didn’t think he was ready.”
Although Bateman didn’t believe Harnish was capable of serving as race director at this time, he did offer Harnish another position within the series. Harnish chose to not stay on with the series, according to Bateman.
Spence said for now he’s thrilled about his new role within the series and that he hopes to avoid as much controversy as possible.
“When things go smoothly you’re excited for it,” said Spence. “They know I don’t tolerate any of that stuff.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, NJ, CT)- Twitter: @RobBlount.
-Photo credit: Crystal Snape.