If you didn’t know, it would be easy to overlook Tucson Raceway Park as just another weekly short track. But those who follow the West Coast racing scene know just how significant this three-eighth mile paved oval is to the entire motorsports community.
Managed by a subsidiary of the International Speedway Corporation for many years, Tucson Raceway Park is where Greg Biffle was discovered by Benny Parsons during the ESPN televised “Winter Heat” series back in the 1990s. Parsons mentioned to Jack Roush that he should take a look at Biffle, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Tucson Raceway Park is also one of the racetracks where Ron Hornaday battled a young Kevin Harvick in both the former Winston West and Craftsman Truck Series. Both drivers have gone on to much fame and many victory lanes since racing at the desert facility.
Now under new management and renamed as The New Tucson Raceway Park (TNTRP), this legendary track is set to join the American Speed Association and see a revitalization that should restore the level of prestige it held for so many years.
Mark Ebert recently assumed the lease on the facility from the Pima County Fairboard and has big plans to re-energize TNTRP, and fans will notice major improvements starting the moment they arrive for the April 25 opening night.
Among the initial changes Ebert made was an upgrade to the scoreboard and public address system. He also put the racetrack through a complete refresh which included a deep cleaning and painting.
“People will see an immediate improvement in the condition of The New Tucson Raceway Park and I think that will help set the tone for the season. We even put a lot into landscaping the facility so that it will be much greener, lusher and inviting to both our fans and competitor base,” said Ebert, promoter of TNTRP.
Ebert is well aware of the history of his racetrack, and the champions that it has produced over the year. He mentioned that he hopes to bring some of those legendary names back, possibly coinciding with the Fall NASCAR races at Phoenix International Raceway.
“With the progressive banking the racetrack really lends itself to side-by-side racing and the fans have come to expect that they will see some great door handle-to-door handle action,” Ebert said. “There is a very proud history here and a reason why so many stars have turned a wheel at The New Tucson Raceway Park. We look forward to continuing that tradition with the ASA.”
TNTRP will run a bi-weekly Saturday night program featuring Late Models, Street Stock, Factory Stock, Pro-4 and Hornet classes. There will also be a variety of special events such as the three spectator drag events (the first starts May 9), a demolition derby (June 6), and five races with the DriveTech Late Models where anyone with an interest in racing can jump in, practice and compete.
For schedule information and track news, fans and competitors can log on to www.TucsonRacewayPark.com or telephone (520) 762-TRP2.
In an effort to get the fans back to TNTRP, Ebert is running a pair of special promotions. Just $25 gets a ticket package which allows entrance into the first five events of the season. With this “Fantastic Five” promotion the cost of entry for these races falls to a mere $5 each. He is also running a 2-for-1 special on opening night which will be kid-friendly with the addition of a jump castle.
At each of the races through the season Ebert will hold special raffles for spectators to win a ride or a drive experience in a DriveTech Late Model stock car. This is an opportunity that most race fans will never get – the chance to feel and hear exactly what it is like inside a race car at speed, or better yet, to wheel one around the oval from the driver’s seat.
One of the first things that Ebert did on acquiring the right to promote TNTRP was to join as a Level 1 Member Track with the American Speed Association.
“We’ve taken note of the ASA and all the racetracks they have added to the Member Track program recently,” he said about the decision. “They offer a lot of packages that are very racer-friendly, such as the insurance program and the ASA Gibbs Driven Oil Short Track National Championship. There is a reason why there is such a groundswell with the ASA these days. Dennis (Huth, president of ASA) gets it where other sanctions just don’t seem to have their finger on the pulse of the short track community’s needs.”
The insurance benefits that Ebert mentioned are that ASA members in good standing are eligible for a $500,000 Excess Medical Benefit as well as a $20,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefit. Coverage for the member begins while traveling to a location promoting an ASA-sanctioned event and continues until arrival home again. Through an agreement with WSIB Motorsports Insurance, the American Speed Association is the only sanctioning body to offer insurance coverage which extends beyond the boundary of the racetrack itself (complete details are available online at www.ASA-Racing.com).
Ebert also mentioned that he intends to work with ASA’s Havasu 95 Speedway (located in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) closely in the future to align their rules and do some cross-promotions. This will allow both the racers and fans the ability to easily move back and forth between tracks and generate additional excitement and increased car counts.
“I’ve been to The New Tucson Raceway Park many, many times and when I headed the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that was one of the inaugural tracks on the schedule so I am very familiar with that facility,” said Dennis Huth. “It has long held a preeminent position in the world of short track racing and I am very excited about the plans that Mark is bringing to the track. He has a lot of energy and is already making several positive changes that will be immediately noticed by fans and competitors alike. Although the racetrack has slipped a little in the past few years under the former management, Mark is quickly undoing the damage and The New Tucson Raceway Park will once again be known as one of the premier tracks in the country, but this time with an ASA affiliation.”
The ASA Member Track program is comprised of more than 35 short tracks around the United States, as well as a variety of regional and national touring series. For more information, call (386) 258-2221 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and information from all the racetracks and tours involved in the ASA, visit www.ASA-Racing.com.
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