Unity Raceway closed -- for now

On Monday, Unity Raceway staffers received news that they would not be needed for the 2008 season.

Track owner Ralph Nason confirmed Tuesday morning that his family was ceasing operations at the 60-year-old track for 2008. Nason also said that, while the track is closed for now, he has already received "3 or 4 phone calls from people" who are interested in leasing the facility.

Next winter, Nason said he will re-evaluate whether or not he wants to return to operating the track himself. Family commitments and declining attendance both in the pits and in the grandstands has made operating the facility -- at least for now -- impossible.

"The whole deal is just that there's no support for car racing at this point," Nason said.

Nason said he doesn't have a dollar figure in mind for a potential suitor. He also said that, while the track is unofficially for sale, he's in no rush to put a price tag on that either, considering the state of the real estate market.

The only thing he did say was that he's not so eager to pass the place off that he'll jump at the first lease offer.

"Somebody's going to have to have a few bucks," Nason said. "I'm not going to let somebody take it that's got no money. That's not going to happen.

"I want to see (the track) going, but I'm going to forewarn anybody about the pitfalls that are there. They've got to do inexpensive stuff, otherwise it won't work. The racing's got to be fun."
And, for now, there's no racing at all. And that's no fun for anybody.


Eric - The Maine PC Doc said...

Do you supposed this has anything to do with a lawsuit from a former promoter? No income means no money to pay him off for injuries at the track.

TBarrett said...

Though it's easy to draw that conclusion, I believe that the answer is "no."

Ralph also owns a track in Quebec and a cole slaw company. One thing he's always made sure of is that Unity Raceway -- just like his other ventures -- won't sap him of all his finances.


Andy B said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see PASS lease the track for a date or two.

I went to the August ACT Castrol series race at Montmagny last year, and they had a very good crowd. Not sure how that track is doing on a weekly basis, but the specials seem to be pulling their weight up there.

Maybe Unity can find a niche as a specials only track and run 4 or 5 times over the course of the season.

TBarrett said...

It may not be impossible, Andy, but it's highly unlikely.

As of now, the track isn't fit to run a show or two on. Ralph told me this morning that it needs real, significant work -- to the grounds, to the stands, to the consession areas.

If someone's going to lease it, it's going to likely be for more than one or two races -- and PASS isn't going to jump on for 6, 8 or 10 events over a season.


Mike Lange said...

I'm not surprised. Car counts dropped at all the tracks last year, primarily due to the economy.

When you only have so many race cars left in the state, the weakest track was bound to go.

With a Friday night show and only entry-level divisions to offer, I doubt if they averaged more than 500-700 paid admission per night.

That isn't enough to crack the nut and pay any manager's salary.

It's too bad because the track really has two super racing grooves. Some of the best Pro-Stock racing I ever seen took place at Unity Raceway.

Tenbomber said...

Mike has sumorized the sitution pretty well....For many years we have had three tracks competeing for the same fans and racers..... It was just a matter of time before one of those bit the dust in better times....

I feel sad for all the loyal racers who stuck with Unity until the end...many of them are now also stuck with equipment that they can no longer race anywhere else...Unity's closeing hurts them the most...

It's just a darn shame that things in general are the way they are...It's survival of the fittest...and only the strongest will survive....

Nonetheless....fond memories of all the exciting racing of years past remain for me....seeing my son race for the first time in a go-kart there...and then at age 14 in a pro-4....the many dominating wins by that outlaw in that menacing #10 car....freezing at "the Longjohn"....and eating my share of all the dust kicked up from the dirt banks as a fan in the stands.....I'll miss the old place... we all will!