Tuesday January 1, 2013


By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The management of the Thompson Speedway has announced that former racer Jeff Zuidema has been appointed by the track to the position of race director. Zuidema has not raced since 2010 when he quit because of back problems.

Zuidema's biggest job will be rebuilding the population of the weekly racing program which has taken a drastic drop over the past few seasons. Last year the track struggled to attract over ten cars in three of its six weekly divisions. The track’s premier Sunoco "SK type" Modified division saw most of its events running with fields under 15 cars. It was confirmed Wednesday that the track will eliminate it’s Thompson Modified division, which usually ran 5-6 car fields each week in 2012.

In the past, the Thompson Speedway has listened to the competitors too much which has allowed cars within the Sunoco Mods to veer away from the rules in force for SK Modifieds at Stafford and Waterford. The same thing happened with the Pro Stocks or Super Lates or whatever you want to call them. Zuidema and Jonathan Hoenig, director of business development and marketing at the track, need to fix that.

The first step was the elimination of the Thompson Modifieds. The second step is to bring the track's SK's or Sunoco Modifieds rules in line with other tracks. That, in it self will allow competitors to cross over from other tracks without massive expense or intensive re-working of cars. The division never really caught on. The 2013 schedule will be announced any day now and with a new management team in place it will make for a new beginning when the first green flag drops in the spring.

In many cases a new set of eyes paint an entire different picture of the problems at hand and in many cases change is good.

Two months after being cut off at the waist by strong winds from Superstorm Sandy, the Indian statue at Riverhead Raceway is once again fully intact. Raceway owners Jim and Barbara Cromarty had vowed at a Chamber of Commerce dinner earlier in December that “The Indian” would be back on his feet by Christmas. They were right.

The iconic statue, which was brought to Riverhead in 1980 from the old Danbury Fair in Connecticut, was split in two in the late afternoon of Oct. 29. “The Indian” once appeared in an episode of HBO’s hit television drama “The Sopranos.”

In action on the tube this week, more re-runs are in store. On Wednesday, at noon the Speed Channel will air the Watkins Glen Sprint Cup event at noon. On Thursday at noon Speed will re-run one of the Michigan Sprint Cup events and on Friday at noon Speed will re-run the August Bristol Sprint Cup event at noon. Speed will go live at Daytona next week to cover mid -winter Sprint Cup testing.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks were down for the week. Taking the biggest dive was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 1.10 to 26.93. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.50 to 17.30 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.04 to 1.66. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.24 to 5.60 while NASCAR fuel supplier Energy Transfer (Sunoco) dropped 0.84 to 42.48 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.21 to 13.29. The car makers ended the week on a positive note. Ford went up 1.01 to 12.87 while General Motors went up 0.53 to 27.85 and Toyota went up 1.30 to 92.07. The home improvement sector was down for the week. Home Depot dropped 0.67 to 60.65 and Lowes dropped 0.06 to 34.98. The team sponsors showed negative results. Dupont dropped 0.22 to 44.71 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.77 to 66.58, Target Department Stores dropped 1.03 to 58.57, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.31 to 27.65 and Fedex dropped 2.35 to 90.39.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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