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T.J.’s Notebook: Mansfield Removing Pavement is a Game Changer

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Mansfield Speedway announced on Wednesday the scope of the track’s conversion to a dirt racing surface changed by removing the existing blacktop surface. Originally the plan was to lay the dirt over the blacktop, but after evaluating the surface and potential pitfalls the decision was made remove the asphalt. Thursday the first images appeared of the work taking place.

This greatly changes my outlook on the prospect of Mansfield succeeding. Attending several tracks with dirt over asphalt, permanent and temporary, and it adds a layer of complexity to an already difficult task of properly preparing a dirt surface. Everything from having problems getting water to drain to not having enough depth to do a lot of things you can accomplish without the pavement underneath.

With the roller coaster ride that has been Mansfield’s race track over the past three decades the biggest hurdle will be building up trust that there will be longevity in the current management. In addition flubbing the track prep, even in the early races serving as a soft open, would be a detriment later on for some of the big races they have planned the track’s history working against them.

Taking off the pavement gives the new management at Mansfield a better chance a success.

  • Nate Ryan from NBC Sports reported on Thursday that with Tony Stewart’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup team migrating to Ford this year that at some point the sprint car teams at Tony Stewart Racing could be powered by Ford. With Ron Shaver heavily involved in the TSR program with Donny Schatz and was built and developed the Ford engines for the Casey Luna Racing team back in the early to late 80’s. While there are likely little to no relation to what the new engine would look like, Shaver has experience on the Ford side of things and with factory support this could be an interesting development in sprint car racing. From what I’ve heard from various people in the sport this roll out could happen this year. It will be interesting to see at what point that engine would make an appearance, and it the engine appears first with Stewart himself or with Donny Schatz’s program.
  • Stewart had dominated headlines the past few days with the news mentioned above, his announced return to sprint car racing at Bubba Raceway Park during the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions events, and intentions on running the Pay Less Little 500 in May. It’s a good reminder that if you had Little 500 tickets last year now is a good time to renew. YOu can order tickets by calling Anderson Speedway at (765) 642-0206 between 10:00 AM-4:00 PM or stopping into the main office at the track between those same hours.
  • Borderline Speedway’s Kings Challenge event on Thursday was rained out with one lap completed in the main event. After two red flags for multiple car incidents rain forced officials to cancel the remainder of the program. Carson Macedo and Dominic Scelzi are among the drivers going to different cars for the opening night of the Classic Friday at Premier Speedway due to damage sustained in the incident.
    The Classic is not the only big race in Australia this weekend. Keith Kunz Motorsports and driver Rico Abreu make their first start of their tour down under Friday and Saturday at Archerfield Speedway in Brisbane, Australia.
  • The American contingent slated to compete in South Africa has landed safely and are preparing cars to compete this weekend. Bill Tyler Mike Stutsman, Brian Lay, Jim Swain will compete during the opening event of the tour at The Ultimate Raceway in Vereeniging.