Can you give any feedback as to the 4 cylinder count that has said they will run SSP?
From the feedback I'm getting so far, the Hoosier Tire rule is creating a lot of unhappy
racers that are saying they are not planning to run SSP. They claim they have a lot of
money tied up in another brand & are not going to invest in Hoosiers. I can name 10 cars
that are not going to run. This is not good and I'm afraid it will lead to the cancellation of
the 4 cyl. division due to lack of cars.
I hope you can understand our concern. We don't want to invest in Hoosiers & then SSP
cancels the division because of a lack of cars. Then we are stuck with a tire that we don't
Finally, is there any chance of changing the tire rule?
Steve Bair # 52
Dear Mr. Bair,
Thank you for contacting me about your concerns for the Four Cylinder division and their future at SSP. I have decided to respond to your email as a whole to all of the Four Cylinder Stock Car drivers in the area.
As you may or may not know, the Four Cylinder Stock Car division is very popular in many parts of the country. We have run the Four Cylinders since 2004 and watched their trend very closely in the area. We have seen many tracks in the area either drop the division or scale back their number of races drastically each year. This has been largely due to the drop in car count and lack of interest from the drivers at those tracks.
This trend has been the reverse at SSP. On May 13, 2004 we started off with only 5 cars showing up to race. That season we had three races with the high car count being 31 cars. In 2005, we had three more races (High – 27, Low 21). 2006 found 4 races on the schedule (High 30, Low 23). In 2007 we had 7 races with the High of 26 cars and low of 17 cars. SSP has proven to provide a good size for the cars ad provided very competitive racing. However, we began to seen car counts once again beginning to drop at the end as was the case at other tracks in the area. Of all of the races, 17 races in 4 years, there has only been a full field 5 times. This is not a very healthy sign for the division, but that can change.
The main problem with the lack of growth is directly related to the lack of rules and guidelines. Areas in the United States that thrive with the class have very good rules and guidelines to keep many drivers competitive, not just a select few. With this in mind, we developed a set of rules that were general enough keep the majority of the cars legal, yet still keep control over the standards and guidelines to attempt to keep the cost down to compete in the division. The rules we developed are not as constrictive as many parts of the country as we tried to accommodate the generally accepted rules in the area. They have been reviewed by some of the leading drivers in the area before they were released. We will review all rules as the season goes along as we know they may not be perfect yet.
All drivers that enter a race with the division should be given a fair chance to be able to win the race or finish well. This is not the way it is now with the class due to the lack of rules. With the number of Four Cylinder cars now available to become racecars, the cars should not be as expensive as they are to operate. This needs to change or the class will become extinct in the area. I don’t want to see this happen to the class. There are some very good drivers and the class is a great stepping stone to another division of racing.
I have been involved in the auto racing industry for almost 20 years as a career, not a hobby. I take this very seriously and I know how to write rules to keep a division growing. I have written the rules for the Legends Cars Series internationally in 1993 and they still have the same set of rules with very few changes. That is my goal with all of the classes that compete at SSP including the Four Cylinder Stock Cars.
Over the winter, Justin Loh from Williams Grove Speedway and myself sat down and developed a schedule for the Four Cylinder Stock Cars between the two tracks with no conflicts. We also agreed to have the similar purse payouts as well. We were successful in doing this. We also agreed to use the same set of rules. Everything was set and in place for the 2008 season.
Then something happened after that. I believe Justin became too concerned with his employee’s misinformation from a “Four Cylinder Message Board.” I have yet to see an internet Message Board that has done any “good” for the auto racing industry or the world in general for that matter. A few individuals began bad-mouthing both me and SSP. There is an individual named Joe Jakubic, constantly bantering and down playing our program and for the record it should be known that this individual has only ever competed at SSP once in the regular season (June 5, 2005). Someone that is not competing regularly should not and will have no bearing on the direction of our program! There is another individual named Brett Rose who is saying similar things who has never competed in an SSP regular season event. I don’t know what their goal really is, but I will not allow it to affect our Four Cylinder program like it has at the Grove.
In terms of the Hoosier Tire rule, the rule will not be altered for the 2008 season. Many of the divisions that currently enjoy success at SSP are on a spec tire rule. We have chosen to make our relationship with Hoosier tires and have had a very good relationship over the years with them. The most expensive costs of racing are engines and tires. It is impossible for us to control the costs of engines or mandate a certain engine. However, we can mandate a specific tire and that is what we have done. It is our responsibility and duty to look out for rising costs and this is what we have done.
The mandated tire was met with hesitation at first in both the Late Models and Street Stocks, but now it has proven its value and embraced by all competitors in the division as a cost savings over the course of the season. The same will be true for the Four Cylinder division.
It has also been mentioned by some that the only reason we have Hoosier Tires is because we are making money from them. Hoosier does contribute money to the season-ending point fund, but it is no where near the $3,000 posted season-ending point fund. The difference is made up from our (Rhonda and I) hard –earned money because we believe in the division. In the future, we anticipate a sponsor to come on board in the future to make things even better.
The Four Cylinder Program has been lacking leadership and direction, thus the floundering from track to track in the past few years. We are committed to change this. The first step was the rules. The next step was the schedule (11 races at SSP for 2008). We have reduced the number of races for some classes to accommodate the Four Cylinder races. That should give you some idea what out thoughts are for the class.
We have taken the necessary steps to provide a solid and enjoyable program for the Four Cylinders at SSP. Now the next step is up to you. If you decide to sit back and take the “wait and see” approach, I can assure you that the division will fall the same fate of 410 Sprint Cars and Super Sportsman cars (over priced cars trying to justify a high purse with no races at SSP).
We will run all of the scheduled races for the regular season (April 19 to September 15) no matter what the car counts are. However, at midseason if the average car counts are far below the average over the last four years at SSP, we will consider replacing the Four Cylinder class at the season ending Miller’s Fall Classic in October with another class.
This is a “Two Way Street,” not just one way to me or on way to you. The decision to compete should be yours and not the decision made by a select few individuals associated with the class. If you do show up and embrace the changes (although you may not like them now), you will enjoy the same stability that the Late Models, Street Stocks, Xtreme Stocks, ARDC Midgets, Mini Vans and others currently have at SSP. The choice is yours and we hope to see you at the first race on Saturday, April 19 and many more throughout the season and for many years to come.
Good luck with you season and thank you again for asking the difficult questions. I hope this alleviates some or all of your concerns.
Susquehanna Speedway Park