LAFARGEVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - The wait ended for area dirt track drivers and race fans Friday night as the Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville held it’s first race of the 2020 season.
For track owner Tyler Bartlett, it was the culmination of almost 2 months of hard work to get the track open after COVID-19 forced him to scrap the Super Dirt Car series season opening event on April 11th and all other races at the track until Friday night.
“Yeah, we got a lot of big game guys here in all four divisions, we maxed out our cap, we got about 130 cars here tonight. It’s gonna be pretty exciting. We got guys, you know, Tim Fuller, Billy Dunn, Mike Maresca just to name a few. A lot of the local guys here that a provide some fierce competition,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett said he had to turn racers away from other regions due to safety concerns with the coronavirus and was also without some of the track regulars from Canada due to restrictions at the border.
“It hurts, the place is called Can-Am for a reason. Our relationship with the border really influences the car counts, and obviously we can’t have fans tonight but you know, if we were allowed to have fans and spectators, you know, we’d be down a couple hundred fans just from coming across the border,” said Bartlett.
The drivers in the pits were anxious to get back on the track after such a long layoff and resume competition. It’s something that they have been missing with the delay in the start of the dirt track season.
“It fells nice to finally get going again. We did a little bit of racing this winter in Florida and Georgetown in Maryland, here a few months ago, but the seasons getting started late but we’re ready to go,” said Watertown’s Billy Dunn, 358 modified driver.
“It’s something we all like to do and I’m glad we’re able to. The promoters were able to find a way to get us back racing while still following the guidelines and everything, so it’s good to be back. It’s a nice day and it feels right to be racing on a Friday night," said Potsdam’s Mike Maresca, 358 modified driver.
“Pretty good after a few month layoff. We got a chance to do a little bit of testing. Didn’t have such a good run in Florida, so we had a bad taste in our mouth. We needed to get back to racing, but it’s good that Can-Am Speedway and St. Lawrence Radiology teamed up and got this program going, and it’s just good for everybody,” said Tim Fuller, a 358 modified driver from Edwards.
The only major difference, other than social distancing in the pits, was not having fans in the stands to cheer on their favorite drivers. It’s something Fuller says it will take some getting use to.
“You know, actually, when you’re racing you don’t even realize there’s fans out there. You don’t even realize it until you get out on the front straightaway but you get out on the front straightaway it will be pretty quiet. So it’s- This is what you gotta do right now," said Fuller.
Bartlett says he hopes that this is a short term situation and is shooting to have fans back in the stands before the end of the month.
“We’re hoping June 21st is their target date to open up and we’re hoping June 21st will be our target date to have fans," said Bartlet.