Berlin dirt dabbling may tempt other paved ovals
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
Following the success of the Keyser Manufacturing Down & Dirty 100 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts on Berlin Raceway’s dirt-covered asphalt oval, World of Outlaws Late Model Series director Tim Christman expects more paved short tracks to cover their surfaces with clay for Dirt Late Model events.
“Our sport has a herd mentality, and there’s no doubt other tracks were watching to see how it worked out,” Christman said on Monday, two days after WoO points leader Darrell Lanigan scored a $20,000 victory on the historic Marne, Mich., oval that was covered with more than 300 truckloads of clay. “It was a success all around and they noticed. The racing was unbelievably good and the turnout was amazing as well, especially considering the weather. I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
The national tour’s head honcho isn’t just acting on suspension in expecting other paved tracks to follow Berlin’s lead. He said the series had already received interest from other paved tracks about the possibility of covering their surface with dirt for a series race even before Berlin. That interest has picked up in the few days following the event.
“I know it’s piqued the interest of some other asphalt tracks,” Christman said. “We’ve been in conversation with a couple of places coming into this Berlin event that we talked to about the possibilities of it. I think Berlin was kind of a gauge for a lot of people to look at because there wasn’t a whole lot for the weekly racing tracks to compare to before.”
While he’s optimistic that more paved tracks will try hosting a dirt event, Christman doesn’t believe that it’s something just any track will be able to make successful. He noted that hauling in hundreds of truckloads of dirt requires a healthy financial investment.
“It’s not something that’s real inexpensive to do,” Christman said. “It would have to be someone who’s willing to take a pretty good leap of faith and also have the financial ability to pull something off.
“It’s something that has to make good financial sense. And there’s a lot that it depends on. How expensive is it to get the dirt? What’s it gonna cost to put it down? Berlin did everything right. They did their planning ahead of time, and that’s what it takes.”
For paved track promoters looking to follow Berlin’s lead in hosting a dirt event, Christman suggests they also follow Berlin in bringing in someone with dirt track experience to help ensure a quality racing surface.
“One thing that Berlin did that was really smart was bringing in a knowledgeable dirt guy,” Christman said, touting Berlin’s enlistment of Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park’s Jeremie Corcoran to oversee the surface covering and track prep for their event. “Jeremie always prepares a good track. He oversaw the track prep and laying of the dirt on the asphalt, and he did a great job.
“They understood the first year, the objective was just to get through it. They knew that if they had a good racing surface it would help them tremendously in the future, and that was their No. 1 objective.”