Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series Replaces Shuttered TSRS For 305 Racers
The Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series (MASS) was officially organized on Sunday at a special gathering of 305 Sprint Car drivers in Allentown, N.J. MASS is replacing the Tri-State Racesaver Series (TSRS) which was recently shuttered by its organizer Joe Grandinetti.
Among the success stories in New Jersey dirt racing over the last decade has been the Racesaver Series for 305 Sprint Cars. Using regular Sprint Car frames and components, these cars have 305 cubic inch motors (producing plenty of horsepower) under the hood and turn impressive lap times given their restrictions. The group’s base has been N.J.’s Bridgeport and New Egypt speedways; and they have also competed at Pa.’s Grandview Speedway and at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., in coordination with the New York-based CRSA Sprints that have similar rules.
The 305 Racesaver Series has hundreds of drivers and teams racing nationwide. Racesaver was founded some 20 years ago by famed Sprint Car engine specialist/racer French Grimes. Today, Roger Haden heads up the Racesaver Series, while Grimes remains close to the business as key advisor and dedicated to its concept of affordable racing.
Haden is also well-known as operator of Eagle Raceway in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the 305 Racesaver Sprint Car Nationals is held annually for racers around the country.
Since 2010, through this season, racing for the 305 Sprints in New Jersey had been guided by Grandinetti under the TSRS banner. But last month, he made a surprise announcement.
“On Thursday, October 20 (2016), I officially shut down TSRS,” stated Joe Grandinetti, who resigned that day from its leadership role. “There are those who would like to see the 305s in this area go in a different direction — they have their ideas, and maybe, hopefully, it will work for them.”
He indicated that he had heard of dissension among the TSRS members with his leadership; “was done with the politics” and had decided to “just go back to being a car owner with my granddaughter (Samantha Lieberman) to have fun at the track again.”
When TSRS drivers Jeff Geiges and Eddie Wagner heard the news that the organization they raced with was shutting down, they immediately decided to take a role to ensure that local 305 Sprint Car racing would continue. They put out the word that “a meeting for 305 Sprint Car drivers and team members that had run with TSRS and wanted to see the concept continue would be held on November 6.”
The gathering, directed by Geiges and Wagner, took place as scheduled last Sunday afternoon, at the Palmco Motorsports shop in Allentown, N.J. That’s the racing fabrication business of Sprint Car owner Nandi Palmai, whose daughters Stefani and Erika race 305s. They are also married to 305 race drivers: Stefani to Tommy Carberry, and Erika to Wagner.
The meeting on Sunday led to the formation of a new 305 Sprint Car organization, the Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series, to replace the shuttered TSRS.
“When Jeff and I announced plans for the meeting, it was to give us an indication if the (305) racers wanted to have an organization to run with,” said Eddie Wagner. “If five or six (teams) would have shown up, we would have stopped right there and moved on. But we had 24 teams present; actually 47 people attended and seven more (team members) that couldn’t be there phoned for information and showed their support. So, seeing that, Jeff and I knew that the interest was there and that everyone wanted to have an organization. But we told them… ‘this is your organization, we’ll get it going, but it’s up to all of you to step up and make it work’.”
Geiges and Wagner led the initial discussion and formation of the Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series that will continue to follow the same Racesaver rules and guidelines as before.
They will begin choosing officials for the series, and have already brought Matt Stellfox on board for one of those on-track and pitside roles. He is the son of race driver Mares Stellfox, a strong supporter of 305 Sprint Car racing.
“Matt is an ideal choice, because he is not affiliated with a team and will not be biased in any way,” emphasized Wagner. “That’s what we would like to have with the rest of our officials… individuals who have no ties to any particular team and can rule on an issue without any distraction.”
From the business side, professional accountant Robert Burd will have the position of Mid-Atlantic Sprint Series treasurer. His son, Zach Burd, drives the No. 5Z 305 Sprint Car.
“Our first goal was to see if there was interest in an organization, and when we found out there was… to form it,” said Wagner. “It was important, right from the start on Sunday when we decided to do this, to have the monetary side handled by someone other than Jeff and I. That’s the job of Robert, and if a member wants to see where the money is and what’s being done with it, the books will be open.
“Now, we can begin to do our business… to contact the tracks and secure race dates. We realistically couldn’t reach out (to the tracks) before Sunday, until we had a viable organization and business plan. Now we do, and we’re moving ahead as quick as we can so that we can have race dates in place for 2017. We’ve already spoken with (track official) Eric Kormann at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway; and as soon as possible we will contact (N.J.’s) Bridgeport and New Egypt. And, we all really want to get back to (Pa.’s) Grandview.”
Wagner also emphasized that while he and Geiges have started the organization, it’s up to the members and officials to make it work.
“Day by day, especially this winter, Jeff and I are going to be fully hands-on to get it (organization) running, to make sure it succeeds,” said Wagner. “Hilborn Fuel Injection had been the TSRS sponsor, but advised that they would be moving on after 2016 even before TSRS ended. So now, our major goal is to obtain a new series sponsor. I’m heading out to the PRI Show in December to talk to potential sponsors, for the overall series and individual events and contingencies.
“We have a lot of work to do. But, it’s ultimately the members that will make it work. Jeff and I are race drivers, and when we’re at the track we’re going to be in our Sprint Cars. We’ll have the confidence in our officials that they will run the show and take care of any problems. We’re there to provide the organization, and our goal is to give the managment at the tracks and the fans there a great show so that they will want to have us back.
“Getting this (organization) going is exciting, but scary at the same time. But we know that the racers want it to succeed. We’re all in this together.”