Cody Sommer: “It certainly doesn’t hurt when you can kinda silence the peanut gallery.”
Cody Sommer took a massive leap in 2016. He opened The Dome, signed in the late models and modifieds, installed full-sized race cars on a bullring race track then dropped the green and hoped for the best. There was no blueprint for an event of this caliber.
Everyone was watching, it was a race that had the attention of the entire dirt racing world. From the beginning, there was a large core of the fan base that were almost rooting for it to fail. I guess they were looking for an, ‘I told ya so’ moment. To the amusement of everyone else, they weren’t gifted with the opportunity to say that.
It turned into the greatest dirt race I’ve ever seen in my life. Yet, it could have easily gone in the other direction, specifically because it was the first year. A few missteps, Cody and team, could have gone down with the ship. Of course, that didn’t happen.
It was spectacular, in every form. From Friday-Saturday, there couldn’t have been a single seat in the stands that didn’t enjoy what they were witnessing. I wondered if the massive success, in the debut year, came as a surprise to the event promoter.
Were you surprised at the success of the inaugural race?
“It wasn’t a surprise that it was successful as it was. Because I had so much confidence in what we were doing,” Cody Sommer told RacingNews.co. “I knew we were going to have certain issues, that we needed to work out. It went even better than I expected but I don’t know that’s a surprise. Just it went better than I had anticipated.”
“I think, especially for the people that were negative on it… They were just flat out surprised. But me, I’m not surprised because I know what I’m capable of. I know how much effort went into it. It wasn’t just a fly by night operation, just a quick throw it together type of thing.”
“That event was and even this year is planned year round. It’s not something that you just snap your fingers and it happens. Knowing that, it’s hard to be totally shocked or surprised when something goes smoothly.”
“If anything, it’s just extremely gratifying. When you put in all that work and everything goes very well and the general public see’s it as going very well. This isn’t what drives me or anybody but it certainly doesn’t hurt when you can kinda silence the peanut gallery.”
“It would be interesting to see a compilation of all the social comments and message boards, before the race. If I had all those in one spot, I’d probably print them on a huge banner and hang them up this year.”
“In our world, you are absolutely allowed to do that,” Cody refers to people’s freedom to speak negatively on an event. “But, also we’re allowed to say, ‘You were wrong!’ ”
“It was almost like a relief on Friday, when all that happened. The race, how well it went and the energy inside the building was outrageous. I wouldn’t call it surprised, just extremely gratifying.”
Bar is set
It was the best race I’ve ever been to.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that. Here’s the problem… You set a bar. Ok, that’s year one. Well gosh, what are you gunna do in year two? I hope we even get close.”
Well, both nights were good so it wasn’t a fluke
“Yeah. Saturday wasn’t as intense but it was still good. I’m hoping people don’t have this expectation for just insanely good. It’s just a lot of people are critical if you don’t have as great of a race as you had last year. It will be interesting this year to see how the fan base responds.”
You’re constantly critiqued by the peanut gallery or the vocalists out there.
“I’ve done a lot of different things. Most times, you’re constantly critiqued by the peanut gallery or the vocalists out there. You don’t get a lot of pats on the back in this business. You just don’t, that’s just how it works and I’m ok with that.”
But, with Gateway… It’s like the one event, where you do.
“But, with Gateway… It’s like the one event, where you do. You get a lot of pats on the back. At least since then, ’til now.”
“It will be interesting to see if after this year, that continues. Or if those naysayers are coming back out.”
2017 GATEWAY DIRT NATIONALS
The 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals is hosted at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The racing begins tonight!
The event is run through December 14th-16th, 2017 with features events on each night of racing. Each night is a good one, take your pick.
Ticket are available via GatewayDirt.com/tickets