By Doc Lehman

The New Ohio Motorsports Council; The Time Is Now*

One need only thumb through the pages of this publication for a short
period of time to learn that the short track industry faces some
challenging and perhaps some perilous times throughout the country. It’s
happening in the state of Ohio and it’s happening elsewhere and in some
quarters short track racing is almost under siege. In Ohio back in April
more than two-dozen Ohio speedway representatives gathered together in
Bellville, OH to discuss the need for a statewide organization of motor
sports promoters and operators.

Hosted and moderated by Eldora Speedway’s Larry Boos, the group cited
the chief objective of such an organization to be “create an awareness
of legislative and environmental issues that affect motor sports in the
state of Ohio, and seek methods to resolve them”, with a secondary goal
of “exchanging information and ideas to promote a positive presence of
auto racing in the State and to strengthen the industry”.

That first objective was immediately addressed as Ernie Coffman (Wayne
County Speedway), Kay Miller (Deerfield Raceway) and Tony Boetcher (35
Raceway Park) updated the assemblage about governmental decisions
currently affecting their operations with updates and timetables for
future action.

Each of them advised the gathering that the final decision would not
affect only their particular speedway, but ultimately, every track in
the State.

That was the announcement that called for a unanimous vote to proceed
with an organization. A second meeting was called for May 22 at the
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH and the featured keynote
speaker was attorney Don Anspaugh from the Columbus, OH law firm Isaac,
Brant, Ledman and Teetor.

Anspaugh defends owners and promoters of sports and amusement facilities
against liability claims in all Ohio state and federal courts.
Anspaugh’s practice is rounded out by a wide variety of litigation
matters, including general insurance defense litigation and insurance
coverage matters.

It appears all systems are ‘go’ and to get some insight into what the
new Ohio Motorsports Council is all about Larry Boos of Eldora Speedway,
one of the hardest working men in all of racing, offered some insight.
With Eldora Speedway for nearly 15 years, Boos has been a long time
promoter and advocate for the sport. In Ohio, Boos is one of the most
respected persons in short track racing and is an influential and
driving force for continued growth.

So why an Ohio Motorsports Council and why form it now?

“I think there is no better time than now,” replied Boos. “It’s needed
to show the unity of the sport because of all of the impending issues
whether it be legislative, environmental or whatever. It’s time the
industry comes together and join forces together.”

Boos was asked if there was a crisis in the racing industry in Ohio what
with reports of various lawsuits from homeowners, potential local and
state imposed restrictions and all the other aggravating components that
may follow.

“It’s becoming more and more prevalent,” responded Boos. “Is it a
crisis? No, but it’s a wake up call and I don’t think speedway promoters
can say that’s Joe Blow’s problem because once a precedent is set and is
recorded in the law books, all it take is one attorney to go through the
books and say here is this and that’s what was used to shut that track
down so let’s apply it here. Crisis? No yet. Wake up call? Definitely.”

Has Boos found favorable support? “Yes it’s been very favorable,”
confirmed Boos. “We got started kind of late. Our first meeting was when
most promoters were just opening the beginning of April and then we had
another meeting midweek in May and we had 11 tracks represented there.
We had 14 tracks at the first one. But we had encouraging emails from
those that could not attend and being aware that it’s not an
organization who will tell you how to run your race track.”

“That’s the biggest fear of promoters that you will get in a room and
they will tell you how to run your race or this is how you should write
your rules. The biggest thing we emphasize when they come into the room
is this is not about your track surface, this is not about size, it’s
about Motorsports in the state of Ohio whether it’s blacktop or dirt or
a 1/5th mile or Mid Ohio, it’s all about Motorsports.”

Boos was asked whether all of the state promoters would come together
for the greater good. “I think you will have the typical sit back and
wait and see what’s in it for me type, but the time is now,” said Boos.
“The alarm clock went off and this is a wake up call. The problems are
real. You have Wayne County, you have Deerfield, you have US 35 Raceway,
they all have impending legal action against them and we just cannot
afford to have precedence set at any of these facilities.”

So what are the new organization’s goals for 2007 and beyond?

“I think the first goal in 2007 is to get this thing structurally sound
and completely organized and creating the goals for beyond,” stated
Boos. “Right now it was put together hastily and like I said the
response has been tremendous and everyone seems to feel there is a need.”

“So that was the purpose of our May meeting, to get a vote of confidence
to proceed and that was given to us and we’re working closely with Ernie
Coffman there at Wayne County and Jeff Nuckles at Columbus Motor
Speedway and Tony Boetcher of US 35, we’re all kind of working together
to get the business structure put together.”

“Our goal in the future is to then create not necessary a lobbying force
but a contingency that can be aware of impending issues and then making
our voice heard and to just create a show of unity of Motorsports
throughout the state of Ohio. And I think we’ll implement the name that
was voted on, to make it more encompassing to the Ohio Motorsports

“And then our long range plans are obviously strength in numbers. The
business end will be handled by the track operators’ representatives and
the plan is to create some associate programs where race fans can join
as well and let the legislatures know we are for real.”

“Another goal and I think is an important one, is an economic impact
study and a lot of tracks are already doing that and the numbers are
staggering. You put that together with 30 or 40 motorsports operations
throughout the state I think it will definitely going to wake up

As stated previously, many problems facing race tracks aren’t exclusive
to the Buckeye state and to that end Boos and the other members are
quite willing to share information with other promoters across the
country who may be interested in forming their own organization.

“Oh definitely because the problems aren’t only statewide but
nationwide,” commented Boos. “Ronnie Drager is the representative of the
Michigan Speedway Promoters Association and they have already forwarded
to us copies of their guidelines and of their last meeting and things
they have done and what their goals are.”

“I think the overall goals are to create first, from state organization,
to a regional and a national council as well. The days of going out to
the field of dreams into the cornfield or backyard and building a
racetrack and expecting people to come on Saturday, it is no longer
going to happen. NFL didn’t get strong without organization. The NBA,
golf, anything successful is organized. And again, no one is going to
try and tell anyone how to run their business, that is the last thing we
want to do.”

For additional information on the Ohio Motorsports Council contact Boos
at: at Eldora Speedway (mail@eldoraspeedway.com)

*©2007 Doc Lehman/Dirt America*