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Motordrome breaks new ground

| Friday, June 30, 2006

The grand experiment that is the Mid-Atlantic Asphalt Racing Alliance debuts tonight at Motordrome Speedway with the running of the PennWest Toyota Lift 100.

The MAARA series is a shared project of five tracks in New York and Pennsylvania, including Motordrome and Jennerstown in this area, its intent being to provide a standardization of super late model rules within the five tracks allowing a five-race series to be run with a separate points fund. ASA late model cars also can run in the race series.

"We're the first one. Everyone will be watching to see what happens and how it works out," said Motordrome promoter Red Miley.

The goal of the five tracks is to gain strength in numbers, both in terms of competitors and in marketing.

"Oh, man, we think this is a big deal to get standardized competition at different tracks," Miley said. "To get five tracks working together is a significant step. It's almost unheard of to form a racing series here."

Although NASCAR long ago abandoned dirt-track racing for its showcase series, asphalt racing continues to run second to dirt in this area, both in terms of tracks and competitors. Miley is anticipating a strong field for this 100-lap event, which pays $2,000 to win.

"We're hoping to see 30 cars. That's our goal for this feature," he said.

The MAARA show will be run in conjunction with other weekly classes. There will be heat races, but the MAARA feature starting positions will be determined by a random draw.

Crate motor cars get a 100-pound weight break, at 2,700 pounds pre-race with driver, compared with 2,800 pounds for built motors.

More than a week ahead of the race, Miley was seeing spectator interest.

"We got calls from people in New York, which means fans were coming down, and that's a good thing," he said. "We want to get fans moving around a little bit, following the races to the different tracks."

The series returns to this area Aug. 12 for its Jennerstown race.

"We're optimistic about MAARA and what it can mean for asphalt short-track racing," Miley said.

Miley's biggest concern is the weather, which has played havoc with his 2006 schedule, forcing him to attempt Sunday rain dates for regular races. There is no rain date for this MAARA event.

The weather is just part of the ongoing struggle that is the marketing of racing on a local level. MAARA is one response.Another is diversification.

Miley's track has a monster truck show, including fireworks, on the calendar for Saturday.

In an attempt to find young racing participants, both Motordrome and Miley's dirt oval, Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, have begun a Young Guns class for participants ages 13 to 19 driving four-cylinder American cars.

For even younger kids, Motordrome has periodic "box car" races where youngsters decorate boxes to look like cars. They are worn around the waist, or over the head, and the kids, grouped by age, "race" them by foot down the front straight. To simulate a tire change, the participants must, with the help of a parent or guardian, take off and replace their shoes. They also have their faces wiped to simulate windshield cleaning and take a drink to simulate car refueling. The next box car race is Aug. 18.

Additional Information:

At a glance

The five tracks in the Mid-Atlantic Asphalt Racing Alliance:

Motordrome Speedway, Smithton

Jennerstown Speedway, Jennerstown

Lake Erie Speedway, North East

Lancaster Speedway, Lancaster, N.Y.

Holland Speedway, Holland, N.Y.

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