By Joe Buckles
The third race postponement of the season at the Terre Haute Action Track may have made for a slow news day over the weekend but thats not to say the same period was not without a noteworthy announcement.
Word that promotional rights at Lincoln Park Speedway had changed hands caught many that compete and attend races at the 5/16-mile dirt oval by surprise.
A news release from Spiker Promotions last Friday announced that Greencastle businessman Joe Spiker had taken over the reigns of the track effective June 30.
Drivers were to be told of the change at last Saturday’s LPS show but word of the changes were leaked before Dave Allison and Spiker were able to address particpants.
Like most other area shows, that event fell victim to the elements Saturday night. The LPS Web site notes the event has been rescheduled for this Saturday.
According to the news release, Spiker will take over LPS for the remainder of the 2009 season with Allison and Spiker to work out a lease/purchase agreement at the end of the current season.
By taking control of the Putnam County facility Spiker will be taking on the daunting task of operating two race tracks. He is the current promoter of Vermillion County Speedway at Danville, Ill.
Spiker took over promotional rights at VCS this past winter after several failed attempts to buy LPS.
“Track owner Dave Allison and I had talked back and forth about buying the track [LPS]. I had asked him on several occassions, but the answer was always no,” said Spiker.
It was those rejections that led Spiker to bid on the rights to VCS. With the aid of several former LPS officials, the Indiana based group has successfully revived Saturday night racing at the quarter-mile oval.
As part of the Spiker-Allison agreement LPS will continue to showcase sprint cars on Saturday nights. VCS is expected to move to either Friday or Sunday nights.
When the opportunity to take over LPS emerged Spiker wasted little time in accepting Allison’s offer.
“I love Vermillion County Speedway, but it will always be a rental. When I had the chance to purchase Lincoln Park Speedway, I had to do it,” Spiker was quoted as saying in the release.
Spiker says he will idle LPS several weeks in order to make repairs to the Putnam County facility,
“I want to clean the place up and get it ready to race. The sudden events are very taxing and time consuming. We want to do justice to both speedways. I hope our sponsors, participants and dedicated fans will be patient with us during this transition period,” said Spiker.
VCS Executive Director Roger Hughes says fans can expect to see a number of improvements at LPS once Spiker and his crew begin work.
“I’m excited with what Joe has planned for Lincoln Park. He’ll make the place a showcase. He would like to pattern the track like that at Red Hill Raceway,” said Hughes, who is expected to be part of the new LPS management team.
Red Hill is located near Sumner, Ill., and owned by Terre Haute businessman Jim Mills. The track is considered as one of the finest in the Midwest.
The change in leadership at Lincoln Park is welcome news for many, including Terre Haute racer C.J. Bryan.
“Its probably the best news the racing community has had in the last 10 years,” offered Bryan who is the track’s defending Bomber class champion.
Like many area racers Bryan finds LPS and and its nearness to Terre Haute as an ideal place to run during tight economic times.
“With the economy the way it is, it’s nice to be able to run close to home. It probably has the best location of any track in the Midwest. Its location is probably what has kept it alive all these years,” expressed Bryan.
Bryan looks forward racing with the new LPS management.
“Joe has done a great job at Danville. He’s really turned that place around. Hopefully he’ll have the same success at Lincoln Park,” voiced Bryan.
Hughes says VCS will continue to run sprints on Saturday nights through July 26 with dirt late models the likely choice to take over for the sprints to finish out the 2009 calendar. He expects the track to go to Friday nights with the “grand reopening” of LPS coming Aug. 1.
Joe Buckles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.