Speedway 660 is taking a break this weekend. The long-weekend in August is traditionally an off-weekend to allow our fans, race teams and staff an opportunity to spend time with their families away from the race track. Wade Wilson recently caught up with Michelle Roy to talk about the season to date, the challenges that come with running one of Canada’s best short-tracks and the final month of Speedway 660’s 2013 season.
Wade: Michelle how’s it going and what do the Roy and Foley families feel about their first season running Speedway 660?
Michelle: It has been a whirl-wind of activity ever since we closed the deal to buy the track back in March. We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to prepare for the 2013 season, but we are doing our best and are committed to growing the exciting sport of stock car racing in our area. The Speedway 660 brand of racing is really strong and we want to move the sport forward based on the vision Jerry O’Leary had when he built the track, the hard work the Burns and Johnston families put into the sport for 17 years and our own ideas and innovative approach.
Wade: I’ll bet it has been challenging.
Michelle: We’ve had our fair share of challenges for sure. But everyone has been so supportive. We’ve got a great group of part-time employees and volunteers who love the sport as much as we do. They do a wonderful job and we certainly appreciate their hard work and the help they have provided us since we bought Speedway 660. The race teams have been amazing too. They understand that running a race track is not easy and they have been very patient and understanding as we work our way through our first season. The businesses that market and advertise their products and services through racing have been great and the race fans have been wonderful. It’s been a real eye-opener for us, but there are so many great people involved in this sport and the Foley and Roy families are honoured to be a part of it.
Wade: What are some of the things you’ve run up against this season?
Michelle: The wet weather has been a big factor all season. It’s the one thing you can’t control or fix. The biggest disappointment in regard to the weather was losing the Pro All Star Series event. That is always a highlight of the season for our fans and we really would have liked to have gotten that race in. Our most recent weather related issue forced us to move the Best of the Best Pro Stock 150 from last Saturday night to Sunday Afternoon.
Wade, as you are well aware we had some problems with the public address system early in the season. It took a lot of work, but we’ve pretty much re-wired the entire speaker system and I think we’ve resolved that issue. Then of course we had the lights go out on the track, during the Irving Blending and Packaging 100. An electrical breaker failed and several electricians who were at the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour event came to our rescue and changed the breaker. Since then we have upgraded that system. So there have been a few challenges along the way, but that’s racin!
Speedway 660 recently bought a decommissioned Natural Resources fire truck for our Fire Rescue Team. Driver safety is really important to us and this truck gives our dedicated Fire & Rescue Team the ability to respond very quickly and effectively if necessary.
Wade: You mentioned race teams, staff, fans and businesses who promote their products and services through racing. It takes a team of folks who love this sport to make race-day successful.
Michelle: It sure does. All of those people are awesome. You really know why this is such a special sport, when you see everyone involved come together to grow racing. I also want to mention the media and the Daily Gleaner in particular. The Gleaner’s sports section is the best in New Brunswick. Their reporters do an amazing job covering high school hockey, senior baseball, ringette, soccer, curling and a wide range of other sports. Nick Murray does a really good job covering racing for our fans. His race result stories, race day advancers and feature articles are top notch. We appreciate Nick’s work and the Gleaner’s dedicated efforts in covering racing.
Wade: And what else have you been up to in terms of promoting the Speedway 660 brand?
Michelle: Social media has been huge for us this year. When we started the season the Speedway 660 Facebook page only had a couple of hundred “likes”, but now we are well on our way toward two thousand. That’s amazing growth and it sure is a great way for fans to keep up with what’s happening down in the Geary Woods. I encourage everyone to check out the Speedway 660 Facebook page. We also put a lot of work into our website posting event advancers, race results, these conversations, the weekly blog, the photo album and much more. Once the season is over, we’re planning to re-work www.speedway660.com and launch a brand new website before the 2014 season begins.
Race Teams were really pleased with improved access to the stands in the pit area. Speedway 660’s new owners are committed to continue making improvements and enhancing the experience for fans, race teams and businesses that market their products and services through racing.
Wade: I know you didn’t have a lot of time to work on developing a marketing and advertising strategy this year. Where would you like to go in that area in the future?
Michelle: That is a priority for sure. It is a well known fact that race fans are loyal to the businesses that advertise and market their products and services through this sport. We’ve got a great group of existing business partners who see the value of being associated with racing. They have utilized the Speedway 660 brand of racing to attract new customers and grow their businesses. During the off-season we will be doing a lot of work in this area and I expect to see several new businesses take advantage of the opportunities that come with being a part of racing.
Wade: There is about a month to go in the racing season. And it’s going to be a busy month.
Michelle: Getting ready for SpeedWeekend is a priority. There’s so much work to do to prepare for the biggest event of the Maritime racing season. The Auto Value 250, presented by RE/MAX Group Four Realty and Jim Gilbert’s Wheels and Deals, will be here before you know it and we are confident SpeedWeekend 2013 will be a huge success. It has been a steep learning curve, but our ownership team is feeling more comfortable every week. And most of the staff has been around for several SpeedWeekend events, so we are fortunate to be able to draw on their experience and support to make it happen. We also have our Fan Appreciation Night of Champions in late August. That’s a very special night of racing for the drivers and our loyal fans who follow the Speedway 660 championship point races closely. It’s going to go down to that final Weekly Points event on August 24th to determine the 2013 champions. And next weekend, after the break, we have double header action. The Firecracker Sportsman 150 will be a great show on Saturday night, August 10th and the Enduro on Sunday afternoon, the 11th , is always a treat for race fans.
Speedway 660 recently made a commitment to support charities through our popular 50/50 draw. Now 50 percent goes to a lucky winner and the other 50 percent goes to a different charity each week. Last week the Bar None Camp received the better part of a thousand dollars which will allow under-funded children to attend a summer camp. RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock driver Paul Gahan is a big booster of the Bar None Camp program. Paul has their logo on the hood of his car and is donating all of his race winnings in 2013 to the charity!
Wade: I know your first season as the new Speedway 660 owners has presented you with lots of challenges. But the folks I have talked to are excited about your commitment to this sport and anxious to see where you take it in the future.
Michelle:Thanks Wade. We are certainly going to try our best to take racing to a higher level. We’re not afraid of hard work and want to be innovative in our approach and try some new things in the future. Once we wrap up the 2013 season, we’ll eagerly start planning for 2014 and take time to look at ways to improve racing, be even more fan-friendly than we are now and strengthen the Speedway 660 brand. I can’t say a whole lot yet, but we also plan on sweetening things up a little bit for our great drivers who put on an awesome show for our fans every week.