Ohio’s Attica Raceway Park plays host to one of the most popular events on the World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series schedule; the Brad Doty Classic.
Predicting a winner of the event may be nearly impossible, but the certainties of what to expect are what keep fans coming back year after year. You can be always certain of a huge car count and damn good racing.
Attica welcomes some of the toughest weekly competition in the 410 c.i. Sprint Car class, and every year they have a Tuesday in mid-July marked on their calendars to take on the WoO travelers. Among former winners you’ll see names like Schatz, Kinser and Hewitt. You’ll also see local driver names like Schroeder, Roepke and Keegan as former victors.
At this year’s edition of the must-see event I was keeping an eye on the weather seeing if it might rain out. Luckily a 3 p.m. shower wasn’t enough to put a damper on the night.
I arrived just as qualifying had started. I could hear the P.A. system announcing driver’s one right after the other as they moved onto the racing surface to take their turn on the clock.
I had to work and arrived at the track late. On top of that there were so many people there to see the races, I had to park down the street and across the rail road tracks. I was far enough away that they had a golf cart running out to the lot and picking up people to give them a ride to the gate.
I figured a little walk never hurt, so I made my way up to the gate with the rest of the fans, who were tackling the trek. I had never seen this many people on the grounds before. There were 58 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars on site to do battle.
The Brad Doty Classic brought a capacity crowd and a huge car count that any track would kill for on a Saturday night special. The catch was this wasn’t a Saturday, rather it was a TUESDAY!
The Brad Doty Classic may be the marque event on Attica’s schedule, but the remaining schedule is far from boring. The Ohio speed plant has multiple Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champion dates every year and hosts 410 c.i. and 305 c.i. Sprint Cars as well as Super Late Models as a weekly program. They also include a couple of fan-friendly nights with lower general admission prices, one dollar hot dogs and an open pit area after hot laps for fans to meet their favorite driver.
The open pit gate nights are especially wonderful as you usually see the young race fans having the time of their lives in the pits. Some drivers even bring special items to autograph and hand out to fans. Items can range from special hero cards to individually packaged cookies with the driver’s picture on the wrapper.
While the schedule at Attica Raceway Park is certainly a draw, the dedication of promoter John Bores and Operations Manager Rex Lejune are what keep fans coming back. The 2017 version of the Brad Doty Classic was nearly won by Mother Nature. The track had three inches of rain two days before the event was scheduled to be held. Many tracks would have canceled with inches of water puddled up inside the corners of the racing surface and a flooded staging area, but not the staff at Attica. Instead, they decided to start pumping.
They got out the equipment and pumped into the wee hours of the morning to get the water down. The grounds may have been a little soft but that didn’t stop the capacity crowd nor the drivers from showing up.
It’s safe to say that their dedication doesn’t only apply to their largest show on the schedule; they would work just as hard to get any scheduled event in.
It was pretty easy to know where the status of the event stood if you follow Attica Raceway Park on social media. Attica Raceway Park’s Marketing Manager Stephanie Linder is one of the best at utilizing social media to interact with the fans. We constantly hear about the negatives of social media and how track bashing on social media is contributing to tracks closing. However, Attica is a great example of how social media can be used to help promote a track.
On race day it’s almost certain that something you post on Facebook or Twitter will get some degree of interaction. If you have any questions or concerns posted on social media you can expect a helpful and prompt answer. Most of the time it’s all about customer service and business, but don’t be surprised if you see a funny meme or two leading up to race day.
The 2017 version of the Brad Doty Classic was summed up by a quote said by Shane Stewart at the dash redraw. Shane had recalled a previous year where he was leading on lap 30 but didn’t take home the trophy at the end of the 40 lap event as he was eventually bested by Danny Smith.
Stewart’s quote was, “If you’re leading at lap 30 you’re probably not going to win this race.”
Tim Shaffer was at the butt end of that quote after leading 38 laps at this year’s event only to have the signature slide job thrown on him by David Gravel, who went on to take the checkered flag. The regular Attica race fans can attest that this type of racing isn’t the exception but more the rule for a regular Friday night program.
It’s not uncommon to see cars three-wide racing around the track, or seeing a car come from the back to contend for a Top-5 finish. In fact, I recall watching local driver Byron Reed finish about a foot shy of winning a season opener from the 18th-starting position a few years back.
The idea of this article came to me after thanking Attica Operations Manager Rex Lejune. I approached Rex to thank him for letting media into this event.
He said with a laugh and a smile “Thanks for coming, just make us look good.”
After having the laugh with Rex, it made me think to myself, “Attica doesn’t need my help to look good, they do that all on their own.”
There are days I look online and see people complaining up and down about their local track doing this or that wrong. Not all things are can be controlled by a track, there will always be delays for accidents and Mother Nature will always have days that keep us guessing. However, by all of the common criteria I think fans will find Attica passes with flying colors.
Simply put; Attica Raceway Park is a track doing things right.