ELBRIDGE, NY-Just one year ago, Bill and Kim Shea agreed to purchase Utica-Rome Speedway from Gene Cole which they operated throughout the 2015 season. In 2016, in addition to successfully operating Utica-Rome Speedway weekly, they will operate Rolling Wheels Raceway Park for track owners Bill Mendick and Bert Butler. Mendick and Butler approached the Shea’s in early February about running the Elbridge speed plant after Glenn Donnelly stepped away from promoting the speedway.
“We were flattered when Mr. Mendick and Mr. Butler contacted us,” commented Bill Shea. “They said they like the direction we were going in at Utica-Rome and reached out to us, and after some discussions, we decided to do it. We feel very fortunate to be operating two of the most historic tracks in the northeast.”
“We realize the work that will go into making this work,” added Kim Shea “but we expect much of the staff that works with us on Sundays to be with us at Rolling Wheels and that will help make it easier. We also feel that both tracks will feed off of each other, benefitting both speedways.”
A preliminary schedule has been set that includes seven firm dates and two to be announced events. The first event to kick off the 2016 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park season will be a Thursday night affair on June 23, featuring the 602 Crate Sportsman, Crate Late Models, and Vintage Modifieds plus an open practice for Modifieds and Sprints. The second event on the schedule is the highly anticipated Race of Champions Modified Series and Short Track Super Series Modified Series combination event on Wednesday July 13. The two series, headed by Joe Skotnicki and Brett Deyo respectively, will bring the best drivers of both series together on the same track in the same time for the first time ever. The Race of Champion Sportsman Series will also be in on the action, wrapping up an exciting night of racing.
The Race of Champions Modified Series will have two more events at the “Fast Track”, on Thursday August 4 and Wednesday August 24. On August 4, the GRIT Sportsman Series will join the RoC Modifieds while the 360 Sprints will be on the card on August 24 for an open competition show.
The Super DIRTcar Series will have a double header at the Rolling Wheels Raceway Park on Wednesday, August 17 as the DIRTcar Modifieds and DIRTcar Sportsman will both compete in their respective series events. Both series have a long and rich history at the fast 5/8 mile oval.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints will headline the action Thursday August 11, being joined by the GO Nuclear Late Model Series and a combination Race of Champions and GRIT Sportsman Series event.
The final event of the 2016 season will be the traditional October stop by the World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series. Some of the best 410 Sprint drivers in the nation will be competition for a rare Central New York stop. The Modifieds will also compete in a format that will be released at a later date.
A new website for Rolling Wheels Raceway Park is under construction and will be up and running in the coming days but you can keep up to by visiting Rolling Wheels Raceway Park on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RollingWheelsRP. Rolling Wheels Raceway is west of Syracuse on Route 5 in Elbridge and has had a storied history where some of the best drivers in dirt Modified racing have competed over the years. Opening in 1969, Rolling Wheels was one of the charter members of the upstart Drivers Independent Race Tracks (DIRT) and operated weekly until the early 80’s when it switched to a specials only format. Some the sport’s best drivers have conquered the “Fast Track” including legends Will Cagle and Bob McCreadie to today’s stars Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Danny Johnson, Larry Wight, and many more.
Utica-Rome Speedway is also located on Route 5 but east of Syracuse in the Village of Vernon and operates weekly on Sunday evenings from late April until early September. Utica-Rome Speedway is the only short track in the United States that can claim having the only two drivers not in the top three levels of NASCAR in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Richie Evans, Class of 2012, and Jerry Cook, Class of 2016, both started their stellar careers by competing weekly at Utica-Rome Speedway. Utica-Rome Speedway continues to operate under the NASCAR banner as part of the Whelen All-American Series. More information can be found at www.uticaromespeedway.com
Date Track Event
Thursday, June 23 602 Crate Sportsman, Crate Late Models, and Vintage Cars plus Open Practice for Modifieds and Sprints
Wednesday, July 13 Race of Champions and Short Track Super Series Combination Modified Race plus Race of Champions Sportsman Series
Thursday, August 4 Race of Champions Modified Series and GRIT Sportsman Series
Thursday, August 11 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints, Race of Champions/GRIT Sportsman Series, and GO Nuclear Late Model Series
Wednesday August 17 Super DIRTcar Modified Series and Super DIRTcar Sportsman Series
Wednesday, August 24 Race of Champions Modified Series and 360 Sprint Open
Monday, September 5 TBA
Friday, October 7 TBA
Saturday, October 8 World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series and Modifieds