Still Searching for the Magic: Twin State Speedway Trying Revival With New Management
Peyton Sargent, 6, of Newport, N.H., takes a moment from his toy racecars to watch drivers take laps around the track during open practice at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on April 19, 2014. Racing season begins at the track on April 26. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Dennis Stange, center, exits his car during open practice at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on April 19, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Henry Chrislip of Unity, N.H., works on driver Craig Smith's sway bar during open practice at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on April 19, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Claremont — Can motorsports racing be successful once again in Claremont?
On Thrasher Road is a one-third paved asphalt track that flourished for decades and then failed as the Claremont Speedway. More recently, the facility was renamed as Twin State Speedway, but a name change was not enough to get the crowd and car count to be totally successful and, after the 2012 summer, the track reduced its schedule for 2013 and left a future that was not promising.
Now the Fleury family, which has owned the track for decades, is wondering if Jimmy Zullo can wave a magic wand.
Staging the Outlaw Series was Twin State’s primary motorsport event in 2012 and 2013, so when fall rolled around last year, track owner Dennis Fleury met with Zullo, the Outlaw Series director. Fleury wanted Zullo’s perspective on what he thought the future held for a track that racers enjoyed driving on but was suffering from a diminished bottom line because of operational costs and small crowds.
“Dennis asked me if I thought we could make a go of it,” Zullo said last week. “I told him I felt pretty good about the chances for success.”
Fleury apparently believed him, because Zullo is now running the place.
“I’m taking care of all the weekly operations on the track,” said Zullo, who added that Fleury still owns the track and will be around to see that everything is run safely.
The downer for Zullo is that, with his new duties, he can no longer compete. “Listen, I’m excited about what is happening here, but at the same time I’m disappointed, that I can no longer race,” the 37-year-old confessed.
The track held its first practice session on Saturday. The engines engines will roar for real starting this Saturday evening through until the fall.
There will be four classes involving the Wildcats, Limited Sportsmen, Super Streets and Late Models. With four features and prelims, there could be as many as 12 races on a Saturday night show, which will start at 6 p.m.
There will also be some Sunday activity at the track for the Outlaw Series as well as the go-karts and mud boggers.
The track will once again have Dick LaPlante as its flagman, but Scott Miller will be the new tech chief. Mike Richardson will be the manager of Late Model group.
Zullo hopes to get the car count of 12 to 20 in the Late Model class.
“I wish I had a magic wand and could find a full pit of cars and the grandstand full every Saturday night,” said Zullo. “There is a fine line in the entertainment industry, and people are going to spend their money on what entertains them.”
Zullo added that he has heard from people who have attended races in Claremont and been unhappy with the pace of the racing. “I know we have to get better in that area, and we will,” he said.
With that in mind, Zullo plans on spending race night in the pits to keep everything running smoothly.
“We want new fans, and the fans we have we want to come back every week,” he said. “It’s my job to keep everything moving. We hope to breathe new life into the track. I realize we are competing with the bowling and movie industry for the entertainment. We just have to put on a show for the people.”
Before the races on Saturday, the cars will be on display during the day at the Claremont Visitors Center on North Street. From there, the drivers and their vehicles will travel parade-style to the track for opening night.
One of the more notable changes this season, for the Super Streets and Late Models, is the tire regulations. Those divisions will be required to purchase six race tires for opening night and one tire per week starting with week two. Also, the purchased tire must be on the car for that night’s qualifying and feature races.
The Late Models will draw the largest share of the point fund, at 40 percent. The Super Streets follow at 30 percent, with the Sportsmen netting 20 percent and the Wildcats 10 percent.
Rained-out events will not be made up.