Dean Reynolds will be taking over as Director of DIRTcar Northeast and its flagship Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series at the end of the season from Mike Perrotte. Reynolds started his position with the series two weeks ago as he will work Mike Perrotte during the transition period. Reynolds talked to 22News in how he took the position.
” It was actually a job that I wasn’t even looking to take during the summer but conversations over at Eldora Speedway on vacation kind of sprung the juices falling between the people down in Concord, NC and myself. We started going back and forth a little bit. We did an interview.” said Reynolds
Reynolds will tell you, Mike Perrotte has a done a great job with the Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Northeast.
” To get thrown into it four years ago with very little training and what he has done and what he has endured with the obstacles over the last four years and built it up from when Joe Skotnicki had the series. I’ve learned a lot.” Said Reynolds
Reynolds went to his first couple races last weekend with the series at Brewerton and Mohawk. Reynolds is learning from Perrotte and Perrotte will tell Reynolds that he has to look out for certain things. Reynolds said so far its been good and that Perrotte has been a good tutor. Reynolds also believes that Perrotte has set up an awesome staff on the Super DIRTcar Series. At the first race, Reynolds put on his radio and before the night started. He did a radio check of test one two and that’s all he said on the radio the entire night because the staff knew what to do. Reynolds saw the event from the tower and watched the Super DIRTcar Series staff do their work.
Reynolds is 51 years old. He has been involved with the Empire Super Sprints since 1992. Reynolds has some ideas and wants to pursue this opportunity and help racing out a little bit. Reynolds wants to make the schedule more racer friendly. When asking if it could be done to be more fan friendly. Reynolds gave his thoughts
” That’s the tough aspect. You wanna try to get the schedule a little easier and I’ve done that many years with ESS (Empire Super Sprints) of course most of our races are on weekends where this is going to be a little different. Majority is midweek but you can kind of cut travel down. Still, keep the same amount of events but cut travel down which means if you can do that for the competitors. You can also do that for the fans and where they can hit two events instead of one in the same area might be an area to look at. If that can happen, Hopefully, the crowds will get a little bit of a boost where tracks will do a little bit better. Scheduling takes a long time and I really want to take my time with it this year and get it done and talk to tracks see what dates work for the tracks. What works best for them as far as crowds going around holidays then I have been talking to a lot of the competitors and getting their input and its kind of take a little bit of everything from everybody and see if you can find a happy medium.” Said Reynolds
The competitors on the Super DIRTcar Series have been welcoming to Reynolds. Reynolds has been in racing his whole life. Even though he has been called the Sprint Car guy, Reynolds grew up around modifieds. He grew up around Orange County Speedway.
” Modifieds are the Northeast. Even when we come with the Sprint Cars, were just a compliment to a modified show and for the Northeast to stay strong on dirt, the Big Block Modifieds need to stay strong and I am not saying they’re not strong right now but it can probably use a little polishing. I’ve been telling everyone the wheel has already been invented. Sometimes you just have to put a new tire on it.” Said Reynolds
Reynolds wants to come up with a three to five-year plan. As far as changes for 2019, they will be very minimal which will probably surprise some people.
” You just can’t upset the shopping cart all in one year and that doesn’t work especially when something has been around for so long and it’s been successful for so long. There’s a proven product here and it’s a good product but you always have to change a little bit with the times and you need to tweak. That’s what I think it needs. It just needs a little tweak here. A little tweak there. Hopefully three to five years down the road, we got it going smoothly and a little bit stronger where tracks want to seek more dates and we got more competitors on the tour and hopefully make it grow just a little bit. You know right now local auto racing, it’s tough to make anything grow in local auto racing even up to the NASCAR level. They have issues up there as well. Everyone has issues.” Said Reynolds
Reynolds believes when kids want to play on their cell phones or play Fortnite more than go to a local race track, he knows the odds are against him and have an uphill climb to try to get through.
Reynolds did tell 22News that if the series was to come to New England it would have to depend on growth.
” Now who to say the series will grow in five years. We don’t know. I mean no one knows. If I could predict the future, I wouldn’t be looking for a job type deal. There has been successful ventures where the series has gone out to Eldora and have gone down to southern Jersey and Delaware and Pennsylvania in the middle of Sprint Car territory and had successful events. Can that work right now? Probably not. It’s a Central New York/Eastern New York, Canada based series and you need to be exceptionally strong at home before you can go and make some visits and I’ve always been a firm believer of that and where we want to get right now and hopefully five years down the road, we can say hey guys we got this one weekend its going to be six-seven hours away but you know the teams are doing ok financially and the series has gotten a PR punch where it comes into a race track. Fans know that the Super DIRTcar Series is coming into town and the stars are coming into town and hopefully the fans will come to that track. When you travel outside your nucleus, your outside your element where modifieds might not be well known so you gotta make sure the name is well known so the fans would want to come and see what it’s all about.” Said Reynolds
The one thing Reynolds will tell you is racing is entertainment and people don’t forget that and the drivers in the Super DIRTcar Series know about that. It may be a couple events with a couple twists to add a little spice to it. He did it with ESS (Empire Super Sprints) with the t-shirt toss.
” Just different aspects. Different marketing. Different PRing and expanded PRing so the fans know who the drivers are.” Said Reynolds
Reynolds is planning to put together a marketing plan and hopefully put the plan together with the tracks and implement some fun stuff for the fans as a well.
” It just takes a little bit here and a little bit there. Going to be good old fashion hard work.” Said Reynolds
One of the most prestigious short track events is starting next week with the NAPA Auto Parts Super Dirt Week at Oswego Speedway Reynolds has been going to Super Dirt Week since 1979 when it was held on The Moody Mile at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse and has not missed it since. The reason why Reynolds lives in Syracuse and moved from the Orange County Speedway area is that of Super Dirt Week. This event has such a rich history and for Reynolds to be behind the scenes a little more. Reynolds was a media member during Super Dirt Week.
Reynolds told 22News that the entries along with the ticket sales are ahead of schedule. Camping has been sold out since August.
” There’s no camping spots left.” Said Reynolds
One of the plans at a meeting was to come up with a plan for hauler parking because he believes they won’t have a spot left and that’s a good problem to have. The Billy Whittaker 200 will pay the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified winner $50,000 dollars and pays $1,500 dollars to take the green flag.
You did have the mystique of “The Mile” at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse since 1972. It was held there until 2015.
” I cried. I cried that last year I was at the mile driving around the race track in ESS trailer believe it or not and tears coming down my face but now when you have it at Oswego. It’s a different feeling. It’s not the mile feeling but when you go to a track one time a year. It makes it special and they found the perfect venue to do that un least in my thoughts. A lot of people go and they come up and say Super Dirt Week is dead. It’s not on the mile. Well, why does it have to be on the mile? It’s all about the event. The biggest Sprint Car race in the world is on a half mile track. It’s the event itself and the first year you had a weird feeling because people are wandering around not knowing where to go. Not knowing where to hang out. Not knowing where to mingle. Where their friends are? Where on the mile, we had 30-40 years there. We knew exactly where to go. I’ll tell you what last year they knew where to go and I think that’s why the campers were sold out so early.” Said Reynolds
The attendance at Oswego Speedway for NAPA Auto Parts Super Dirt Week the first two years was very good which is a good sign. The grandstands were pretty well full and there are 12,000 seats at Oswego.
The Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds has the identity of great drivers ranging from veteran drivers such as Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Friesen is also racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the playoffs right now as he has taken a small team and qualified them for the playoffs. Then you have second-generation driver Max McLaughlin.
” You got to look at Stewie’s success and just show how good these modified drivers are. Stewie can get into a wheel barrel and make that goe as well. He’s just phenomenal and you got to feel proud and Stew makes himself proud that he is from the Northeast and from the modifieds and everything else.” Said Reynolds
Erick Rudolph second in the point standings on the Super DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds has given Matt Sheppard a run for his money for the championship this year.
” There’s so many good drivers that do follow this tour. There’s so many good drivers out there that I hope I am going to get on the tour for next year as well to see if we can maybe help them out with improving their careers maybe if they want to move on to the next stepping stone after the Northeast. The ultimate goal of every driver is to become a full-time racecar driver. It always is.” Said Reynolds
With Friesen being in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and qualified for the playoffs. Reynolds believes Friesen has shocked NASCAR.
” We know what the talent Stewart Friesen has. I got to see it second hand when he came into an ESS Sprint Car and he wins in the first or second time in that. We got to see it. We got to see when he grew up as a Canadian running and coming from up the 358’s and stuff like that. I think NASCAR is kind of taking a little bit to accept to him. I am not in that league or anything. Their kind of looking over their shoulder like where did this guy come from. I mean we knew where he came from. But where is this guy in his early 30’s coming from dirt tracks coming into our world and challenging us for a championship in a couple short years.” Said Reynolds
The younger generation has not been going to the track. Reynolds believes that is the whole key and that no one knows the whole answer. It was kind of a catch 22.
” I sold what the problem with racing is today cell phones. The product is very good. Everyone goes this is what is wrong with racing in NASCAR. I watch the races. The races in NASCAR are better now than they were 30 years ago. 30 years ago you were lucky if you have five cars on the lead lap and the winner would win by 32 seconds. Now you have five cars going for the win coming down the start-finish line. But the thing is the generation that grows up now. There’s so many other things to do than to watch cars going around in circles. Whether we want to believe it or not, our sport is watching cars go around in circles.” Said Reynolds
What does the local tracks on and up in NASCAR need to do? That’s the question. Reynolds believes you need to bring in the entertainment factor.
” Do you have to do some other things as well as having a race? Do you book a band on the same night? Do you have a demo derby after the event over on the same night? I was here at Brewerton Speedway for a local event on Friday (August 31) the normal event. They simply had a demo derby after the event and the place was packed and it was just a demo derby after the regular Friday night show. It was a great promotion and it just brought different fans to the track. It’s just a big thing everyone has to look at and work hard. Every race track type facility is finding that out. The product is there. The product is very good but you just have to grab the attention somehow someway of this generation before they get their attention in something else.” Said Reynolds.
The Super DIRTcar Series makes a couple trips to Canada a couple times throughout the season. Reynolds believes its a three-step process in why people go to these races here in Quebec. They do a very heavy promotion with driver introductions with loud music. Reynolds knows the French Canadians love their music. They will play music on the speakers and you will see people dancing in the grandstand. There are only three tracks in the whole area so there is not a lot to choose from as far as the entertainment value when it comes to automobile racing as far as Dirt Track Modifieds. The third thing is they do make it an event.
Tim Fuller won at Fonda Speedway last weekend in the Super DIRTcar Series event. The NAPA Auto Parts Super Dirt Week event will kick off this upcoming week at Oswego Speedway with events also happening at Utica-Rome Speedway, Weedsport Speedway, Brewerton Speedway, and Fulton Speedway in New York.