Racers and fans of N.J.’s Wall Stadium Speedway learned the good news this past week that Cliff Krause has signed a one year lease to operate the historic, third-mile banked paved oval for the 2017 season.
Cliff and his wife Diane, who handles the track’s day to day operation as General Manager, have been at the helm of Wall Stadium since 2011.
Along the way they have had a three year lease, but for 2015 and 2016 it has been on a yearly basis with the property owners.
However, the view for the future looks positive.
Cliff has been assured by the owners of the property on which the track is situated that he can keep going forward with the lease as track operator. Although the owners want to only go with a “year to year” lease, Krause has been told that the track is “his to operate as long as he wants.” That’s certainly what racers and fans need to know.
“That’s my goal, to keep Wall Stadium and its great history, intact,” emphasized Cliff. “Since Diane and I took it over in 2011, when things were looking very bad for the track, we have been very pleased with the response and growth that we’ve gotten here every year since. Our fans have supported us, and we’re getting more and more of them, including kids and entire families, each week and year.
“And the car counts, in all divisions, are solid and growing. Diane and I are very encouraged with that part. I’ve already been told by teams that they are preparing for next year; and I’ve learned of brand new racers that will be with us for 2017.
“I’m in it (operating Wall) for the long term!”
He emphasized that he was told by the owners that there is no deal on the table to sell the property, so with that in mind, indications are that racing will continue at the historic facility in the future.
The 50-acres of land on which the track is situated has actually been for sale by its ownership group for many years, but to date there has been no transaction. It is zoned industrial/commercial, meaning no homes can be built on the site. It is also next door to a busy airport that handles business and private traffic the year round.
“They (the property owner group) have basically told me that the track is mine to operate as long as I want to continue doing it,” emphasized Cliff. “I certainly want to! But, they prefer it to be a ‘year to year’. I would like it to be more, but I’ll take the ‘one year’ — and, who knows, down the road maybe we can do something to extend it.
“But for right now, Wall Stadium is intact for 2017.”
But before that new campaign for next year, last weekend’s second consecutive rainout means that the divisional championships will be decided this Saturday during a special afternoon meet. The rescheduled non-point Spooky Spectacular is on October 29, setting the stage for the annual Turkey Derby on Thanksgiving weekend.
Cliff Krause is a successful businessman away from Wall, with a non-racing enterprise. He is founder and owner of Supreme Manufacturing in East Brunswick, N.J., which produces ice cream toppings and juice concentrate mixes among its key products that are marketed to clients around the country and internationally. He has also been involved in local short track racing for over 25 years.
Prior to initially leasing and promoting Wall in 2011, Krause owned and sponsored top-level dirt Modifieds in the 1990s and 2000s for winning drivers such as Ralph Heotzler, Steve Bottcher and Rick Laubach. Prior to that, he was a race driver himself, at N.Y.’s Orange County Fair Speedway — but decided that “If I was going to invest money in a race car, I was better off having a race driver run it!”
Some seven years ago, Cliff became directly involved with asphalt racing at Wall when then teenage son Andrew Krause made his race-driving debut there in the Sportsman division. Cliff found that he not only enjoyed the asphalt side of racing, something totally different to him, but — most-importantly — took a strong interest in Wall Stadium’s racing history and its future. Back then, the stability of the track was in question due to management changes and issues with overall rules and the manner in which races were being run — including long, drawn out shows. That in turn led to constant rumors about the track’s sale and demise, and with a corresponding decrease in fan attendance and race car counts Wall had hit bottom.
It led Krause to sign his initial lease in 2011 to take over the track, as he emphasized back then, “Wall has too much history, and means too much to so many that we can’t at least try to save it.” He did.
His wife Diane became the enthusiastic and progressive thinking day to day and race weekend track manager, and continues in that role today; joined by their daughter Emily who works closely with her parents on the sponsorship, marketing and race night entertainment side.
Son Andrew has three feature wins this year in the Downs Ford Modifieds; and was the track’s crate motor Sportsman division champion in 2015. A graduate of Rutgers University, he also works at the track; along with having a full-time production/warehouse management position at Supreme Manufacturing. And, Andrew takes full responsibility of maintaining not only his No. 27 Wall Modified, but also the Tour-type Modified fielded out of the family shop that he runs on the NASCAR and related Tours. He also competes in a TQ-Midget, in events for those cars at Wall and on the winter Indoor Series.
As a successful businessman and then Modified car owner, Cliff Krause has since grown into the role of track operator.
“There are times that I think, after a night at Wall when the bad weather has affected our fan count or there are other problems that come with the territory, ‘why am I doing this? I could be doing something else’,” he reflected. “But then I think… no, wait a minute! This (being at Wall, in the midst of all of the activity, seeing the fans cheering or booing, and the drivers and teams racing… this is where I not only want to be, but have to be! It’s become a part of my life.
“That’s why you’ll always see me in the pit area before the races, talking to the drivers and teams — I want to be right there to answer their questions, or know if they are having a problem. Then, later I enjoy being on the grandstand side during the races… to experience the racing from the fan’s view in the seats; and also to be available if they have questions or comments, or just want to say hello.
“On those nights when I am frustrated, and having those ‘why am I doing this’ thoughts, all it takes is for a racer or fan to come up to me and say ‘thank you for keeping our track going’ and it makes it all worthwhile. I know that Diane feels the same way.
“And that’s they key… it’s our track, all of us, that of the fans and racers, many who have been here for so many years, that want Wall Stadium to be the place on Saturday nights for their kids.
“Diane and I want to keep that tradition alive.”