Winter has been a longtime rival to race fans across the country. Some race fans are lucky and live in the milder climates that get to dodge the fierce winter. In northern Ohio, we were lucky for the winter months in 2018/2019, as it created time for two tracks to bring back a decade-long tradition with the creation of the new Attica/Fremont Championship Series (AFCS).
Going into the early winter months of 2018, fans and teams were wondering if an effort was in the works to replace what the FAST series had done for a decade. The rumor mill was working overtime.
Luckily for teams and fans, there was no shortage of demand for a series dedicated to supporting the local sprint car scene. As fate would have it, sponsors would be the igniting fire to kick things into gear. A small group of sponsors reached out to Attica Raceway Park General Manager Rex LeJune, and Fremont Speedway Committee Chairman Ryan Schiets, to see what the plans were for 2019. To put it in simple terms, the sponsors wanted to continue to support the local sprint car teams.
The tracks began working together to come up with a series that would not only replace the FAST series, but create something new to bring some additional excitement to the already strong sprint car scene. The tracks came up with a new series called the Attica/Fremont Championship Series, or AFCS. The first step was getting a series director in place to take the reigns and start gaining some support for the newly formed series.
They selected none other than local racing enthusiast Duane Hancock for the job. Hancock has worked on sprint cars for many years, was a former marketing manager at Attica Raceway Park (ARP), and currently hosts a weekly racing radio show in Northwest Ohio. Hancock admits it was a surprise to get the call about the position, but was happy to jump in and help.
“Rex from ARP called me and said my name kept coming up when they started searching for a series director, so he wanted to reach out and see what I thought. He said, they had some sponsors come to him and Ryan at Fremont who wanted to help out our local drivers, and they just needed someone to help gather some more sponsors, and figure out some creative ways to make the series special for the fans. So, right now we have All Pro Cylinder Heads, Kistler Racing Products, and Baumann Auto Group on board for the 410 class, with K&S Sales and Service and Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales for the 305 class.”
Getting creative meant getting some more sponsors on board and coming up with some creative incentives for drivers and teams. On top of some extra incentives, the schedule would need to be ironed out as well. Hancock says the schedule took some time, but in the end it all worked out.
“We worked hard on getting a schedule set. You just have to stay away from scheduling on top of the big races that come to our area. So, we made sure we didn’t schedule AFCS races against Eldora’s and Mansfield’s big races, as well as any All Star races that come to the area. You can’t always make everyone happy, but for us that just seemed to make the most sense.”
When it came to getting creative, the schedule was also utilized. The AFCS will have a number of weekends with back-to-back shows, opening the door for the tracks to add some incentives to the winner’s share each night, along with some other incentives for the drivers not taking home the big check.
“We have a number of back-to-back weekends where we race Friday at Attica, and the next night at Fremont. Our goal is to make all of those weekends $4,000-to-win for the 410 class and $1,000-to-win for the 305’s. Right now, we have a handful of them covered, but we are still working on getting the rest of the weekends done. We may not get there, but we’re sure going to try. We are also working on other incentives that all driver will have a chance at benefitting from.”
Duane took a deep breath and went on, “It’s been pretty cool, because we’ve had people reach out who have never sponsored anything before who want to be a part of this series. We’re going to have a hard-charger award for both classes. We’re even looking at doing some random giveaways at driver’s meetings, just as a way to say thank you to the drivers and the teams. It could range from free pit passes for the next week, up to a case of brake cleaner and stuff like that. We’ve had a lot of people reach out who want to help but can’t necessarily afford to be a main sponsor.”
2019 is coming with lots of eyes on the new AFCS series, and Hancock believes it won’t fall short of expectations.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about helping the local drivers and teams. This series won’t be traveling outside of these two tracks. We have worked a lot on sweetening the deal for them already, but we want them to know we are always working to make this deal better for them. This sport isn’t getting any cheaper, and we are fortunate enough to have high-quality 410 and 305 teams in our area, so we want to do everything we can to keep it that way.”