Al Varnadore: “My goal is to have a different race track every night.”
East Bay Raceway Park hosts a week long Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series program in February. Each night, it’s like they hit the restart button on the track surface.
Not on a year to year basis, but on a night to night basis. If you were a fan in the grandstands at East Bay Raceway Park you basically saw an entirely different track for 5 straight nights of racing at the same location.
It doesn’t go unnoticed by the drivers either. Bobby Pierce commented on this very thing after the fourth night at the Tampa, Florida dirt track.
“It’s so hard here because the track is very deceiving at most times,” Bobby Pierce told RacingNews.co. “You know, we’ve had really a different race track almost all of these nights. When you make your adjustments that’s one thing that you really gotta take into consideration.”
Al Varnadore has been the owner of East Bay Raceway Park for the last 16 years. He’s the one turning laps on the track at 9am when the green flag doesn’t drop for another 9 hours. The divergent characteristics of the track surface are very much a part of the plan…
Every night during Speedweeks, it was basically a different track. Is that a planned thing or is that more unpredictability of the weather?
“Partially both, my goal is to have a different race track every night,” East Bay Raceway Park promoter Al Varnadore told RacingNews.co.
“I don’t want no driver to get locked in, drive away and win every night. So, I essentially do some things that does make it different. It makes them have to work a little bit harder.”
“Now, the weather does dictate a lot of it.”
I assume you save your favorite version for the last night?
“Not necessarily, But I do feel like we’ve got a better chance tonight of seeing somebody come out of the pack, who hasn’t been running up front.”
This interview was done just ahead of the feature event. As predicted, Kyle Bronson drove from 10th to win the main event at East Bay Raceway Park.
“The big thing about the point nights is that you get everybody working a little bit harder for the Lucas points. Those guys do a little bit of testing early in the week.”
“They probably don’t think they’re really going to win early in the week. But, they’re doing some testing that they’re going to use on a night like tonight.”
“Some of the big names, they’re going to come to the forefront. It’s hard to stop your big 3 or big 4 that are running for points all year long. Those are guys that are going to be there.”
“But, it’s like last year. Mason Zeigler popped out of nowhere and won it! That’s a big plus.”
I think if you’re running a week long show it’s good to have a different track every night. It’s basically what we see here.
“Again, I like to take care of more drivers. I don’t want to see one driver get dialed in and just dominate the field.”
“It does give the guy who normally doesn’t run up front a fighting chance. I’m all about more of them having a chance.”
I’d say almost every dirt track has some kind of current or old equipment sitting in their infield. Yet, East Bay Raceway Park has more than any track I’ve seen anywhere else. Essentially, I think that explains a lot of the variation as well.
There’s a lot of equipment in this infield. Is that stuff that you’ve just stopped using over the years and just left there? Or what’s the story there?
“Some of it’s just wore out. Some of it we do use. I’ve just had a run of bad luck with some of it breaking down at the wrong time.”
“We use different things. I experiment a lot. When something works, I’ll use it. Until I wear it out, then I’ll come up with something different.”
“I don’t stick with one plan and one way of doing things.”