by Mike Neff
Local short tracks are always trying hard to put cars in the pits and butts in the seats, while making some money for the people who own them. Unfortunately for many short track fans that last part ends up meaning the race track is sold to some investment partnership that turns it into a shopping mall. However, on April 13th we saw a nice change in that dynamic as syndicated radio personality "Bubba the Love Sponge" Clem purchased Ocala Speedway.
The Southeastern United States has lost two race tracks this year with Southside Speedway in Virginia and Tri-County Speedway in North Carolina shutting down for different reasons. There are several tracks rumored to be for sale at this point in time and it is very difficult to make a go of it running a race track during these trying economic times. It is refreshing to see someone with substantial resources who is willing to try to give back to the racers more than trying to turn a profit. Clem has the income from his syndicated radio show to help back him in this venture so this is being treated as an investment but also a labor of love.
The announcement from Thursday:
Bubba and his group of investors closed yesterday on the famed Ocala Speedway Wednesday, April 13th, 2011. Ocala Speedway, the oldest track in Florida, first opened in 1952 as a clay / dirt track. For 45 year in ran as a dirt track then turned to asphalt for 10 years before returning to its modern day surface clay in 2008. Ocala Speedway has hosted and continues to host some of the best dirt racing in America along with other speciality events, such as a special Monster Truck show this weekend with the Famed Grave Digger.
Racing sanctioning bodies such as USAC, WOO, ASCS, and UDLMS also have visited and will continue to visit the famed dirt oval located within 2.5 hours of almost anywhere in the state of Florida. Bubba, with his nationwide radio reach and relationships he has established within the racing community will market and promote the track quite aggressively.
”I obviously bought this place as a investment but also want to give back to the racers. I myself have raced here and other tracks in Florida and outside of Florida for over ten years, and for the most part track owners are greedy scum-bags," Clem said. "They want to make a great living at the expense of the racers. Very few track owners want to give back [but] those days are over at my track. Most tracks here in this area and even outside of Florida dont even offer very attractive end of the year point funds; that will change as well."
"And while we are changing things, I am announcing now the new name of the track will be Bubba Raceway Park. So if you're a track owner, be mad or change your ways, and if you're a racer, come to my track and have fun, be treated fair, and get paid square.”
After this weekends Monster Truck show, we will be closing down until Friday, May 13th. We then will be having a Re-Grand opening: $5000 to win late model race named the first annual Bubba Army Open.
Look for our new website Bubbaracewaypark.com to be up by early next week for details about May 13th race. Also information regarding the new, revised 2011 schedule and the $32,000 end of the year points fund which will start the night of May 13th.
While Bubba has made a name for himself by doing some outrageous stunts on his radio program and stirring the pot for the sake of publicity he’s not only a racing fan but he actually races. He’s now putting his money where his mouth is and professing to actually give back to the local racers at his new race track. While that sounds good, it can be a lot harder to accomplish in reality than one might think. Hopefully Clem will be able to make a huge success of his race track and more promoters will jump on the bandwagon to make money off of the front gate instead of the back gate.