By MARY ANN NAUMANN
Thunderhill Raceway Owner/Promoter
(Editor’s note: The following is an open letter from Thunderhill Raceway Owner/Promoter Mary Ann Naumann following last weekend’s races. The letter is dated Aug. 16. Another card of racing will take place at Thunderhill Saturday.)
I woke up this morning with such an excited feeling about this past weekend’s racing action at Thunderhill Raceway. On any given race night, we can pick a particular class or series and say, “Now that race was really good,” but it’s not very often that we can say, “Every race was incredible!!!”
I have not heard fans cheering like that at a speedway anywhere in a very long time. Racers, we have seen some great racing action, but as a promoter and owner, I have to say, “OMG, Saturday was unbelievable!”
The tower was rocking, the fans were excited and the racing was incredible during each event! Can I say every racer was as happy as they would personally like to be when they left the track? I know the answer is “absolutely not,” and I realize that will never happen. However, I did see some camaraderie after those exciting races that I haven’t seen in a long time.
One of the first things I noticed on Saturday night was that nobody was leaving early. I normally make it a point during the last race of the night to go to the exit gate to thank the fans for coming out. Ever since we have stopped the heat races and finished the feature races in the 10 p.m.-10:30 p.m.time frame, the fans have been staying the entire night and seeing some of the best racing in the state of Texas. As soon as the checkered flag for the grand stock race came out, the fans started coming down the hill. They are usually pretty excited, and this past Saturday’s reaction to our races was unbelievable.
I know there are drivers, crews and families that are involved with cars/trucks that may not be completely pleased with Saturday’s races. Let me say this: the driving on both the outside and inside lanes was incredible, and the “rubbing is racing” statement was obvious throughout the night. The most incredible part for me as a promoter – and probably for the race fans as well – was the ability of our drivers to take on the bumping and rubbing, while hanging on and straightening out the cars and trucks to keep on racing. There were even a few “returned favors” throughout the night, and overall the fans were going crazy. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the entire grandstands at THR standing for more than ten laps of incredible racing action in nearly every class.
Guys and gals, if we ever wanted “our playground” to stay open, this is what the fans want to see. I know that with the winding down of our season, along with the points chasing, it’s only going to get more intense and exciting for the fans. I’ve had more e-mails than ever from excited fans, many of which are new fans If I were a new fan and saw that show Saturday night, I know that I would be marking my calendar for the remaining races of the season.
On another note, we all know this sport can be dangerous. It breaks my heart when a racer gets hurt, like James Huff did on Saturday night. He knows better then anyone how quickly this type of situation can happen. James told me that he feels he was able to stand there and talk to me after the races because he had used a Hutchens Device. It was one of those unavoidable accidents – he had nowhere else to go to avoid the collision in front of him, but, thankfully, his injuries were not more serious. James, we love you man, and we’re all hoping that your foot heals quickly.
In 2008, Stock Car Racing magazine quoted me as saying “My goal is to put butts in the grandstand. Once I get them, they’ll come back. Those drivers put on a heck of a show.” Well, I can honestly say it’s happening now. I have never spent so much on advertising dollars, nor have I ever worked so many hours during a season, but I can tell you this statement made in 2008 is most definitely happening now. This momentum is strong because of the efforts from each and every one of you and the incredible THR staff.
And, as I always say, seeing those smiling faces leaving Thunderhill Raceway makes me so happy!
So, from the bottom of this Owner/Promoter of Thunderhill Raceway’s heart, my thanks goes out to each of you that made it happen. Hopefully, we will do it again on Aug. 28, and as Rodney says . . . Beeeeeee therrrrrrrrrre!
Hugs and warm wishes for an incredible week!