by Becky White
I had the opportunity to speak with the owner of the American Drag Racing League, Jeff Biegun while I was attending the ADRL race at Rockingham Dragway on November 17 and 18 and the RUMORS ARE TRUE! Yes, he has purchased Orangeburg Dragstrip! At the time I spoke with him, he told me all papers had been signed and they were only waiting on an environmental impact study with which he anticipated NO problems! Now we know there were no problems with that. Jeff’s team goes in on Monday, November 27 to begin revamping the entire facility in order to be ready for a new racing year in 2018!
Probably the most important thing they will be doing is installing a completely new timing system from the tower through the top end! Consulting on ALL details will be Scott Gardner, a track owner/promoter who has been very successful over the years running tracks and races and bringing racing facilities back to life. One of the main things they will do is put up all new fencing to keep animals off the property in the hopes of keeping the grounds clean and safe for racing!
All the buildings will be redone, especially bathrooms and concession stands…increasing the size of both. Expect good facilities and GREAT food! “We will create good value for our food, it will be affordable and taste good.” Safety will come first in the running of the track and will be considered with every aspect in the remodeling process.
“We are going to try different things. One of our staples is to charge $20 per carload of spectators. The average spectator spends at least $7 just on food, not to mention souvenirs,” according to Jeff. I have heard that number is even higher than $7 per person. He also hires families who go with him and help with all aspects of ADRL racing as well as RJS Safety Equipment and Racer Direct. “We will make this a nice family friendly place complete with a playground. All the families who work with us travel as families in their own motor homes and go where we need them.”
Larry Morgan, ADRL President, continues his work in a public relations position, race planner, race director, scheduling consultant and in any other capacity where he might be needed. The name of the ‘almost new’ facility will become South Carolina Motorplex. Larry says they are looking for ‘good’ ideas to help the ADRL and the entire sport of drag racing. He has been in his current position long enough to see what is happening to our sport and he is willing to do whatever it will take to bring drag racing back to its former glory.
“The Nostalgia Pro Stockers, the Gassers, the fuel cars…all the show stuff is GREAT but we need racers, ‘little guy’ racers and we are working on getting more of them to attend ADRL races. We are looking for good ideas from anyone as to how to go about getting those racers and more spectators. We are doing several things over the winter we hope will help but we need input from anyone who can help accomplish this.” Larry and Jeff are doing everything they can to learn how to get more fans and racers to the track.
One of the things I discussed with him was having Junior Dragster drivers hold seminars for kids of any age at the tracks on Friday afternoons when there isn’t much going on. A group of these young people, with their love of this sport, can do more to help get kids get interested in the program than anything adults can do! This will be discussed during the off season and hopefully we can figure out how to get this going. Larry and Jeff both are looking for good ideas about how to bring back the sport of drag racing we all love…but ONLY ‘good’ ideas.
As you have already seen on Facebook, the ADRL World Finals will be held at South Carolina Motorplex. The rest of their schedule is on their website ADRLtour.com. Please visit their website to let them know you are interested. The number of people checking out the website will give them some idea of how many people really ARE interested in their 2018 activities.
Speaking for myself, I believe these two men are REALLY determined to preserve the sport we know and love. The best thing we can do is support them as much and as often as we can. Larry Morgan can be the best thing for drag racing since Bill Bader took over IHRA and you ALL know how successful that was. It is up to us. They are giving us a venue to do what we love…only we can show them just how much we appreciate their efforts!
by Becky White
I got to speak with Tommy and Judy Franklin…the NEW owners of Virginia Motorsports Park while I was there with the South East Outlaw Nostalgia Pro Stock racers. These two people love drag racing as much as anyone I have met in the almost 40 years I have been involved in this sport! I have known them since they started bracket racing in the ‘90s although Tommy has been racing ‘something’ since he was 14 years old! Now both daughters are racing and doing quite well, I might add. Amber is the PDRA Junior Dragster champion this year and Ashley is fifth in Top Junior. Way to go girls!
I have always had the highest regard for Tommy and Judy. I think this is going to be a bonus to ALL our entire sport of drag racing in the eastern U.S.…we should be counting our lucky stars these two have stepped up and saved this great facility! In their own words, they are, “Here to support the racers, make sure this track stays open and get and keep the track surface back in order as well as the rest of the facility.” I will have lots more from Tommy and Judy as the weeks go on but they have asked everyone to be patient. “Please don’t expect this change to be fast. It is going to take time to do all the things we NEED to do, not to mention the things we WANT to do!”
Schedules are already being made for 2018 and for sure there will be two PDRA races as they will continue to work with PDRA as they have been in the past. Things were kind of crazy the day we had our chance to talk with so much going on but I will continue to let you know how things are progressing! Good luck, Tommy, Judy, Amber and Ashley! If there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call! Check out their website at irginiamotorsportspark.com and see all the good things the Franklin Family has in store for you for 2018 and beyond. I will have more as time goes on!