Bradford (Pa.) Speedway to Close Saturday After Sixty Years

After a run of six decades, albeit it occasionally discontinuous, Brad- ford Speedway will close its gates on Saturday, June 28 for the final time.
Track owner and operator Jeff Andrulonis made the announcement through a media release Friday, June 20.
The communication states that the Bradford Speedway property will become the site of a giant radio tower “that will beam several signals into (the cities of) Bradford, Pa. and Olean, N.Y.”
However, in a conversation with AARN on the date of the formal announcement, Andrulonis stated unequivocally the reason behind the abruptness of the closure.
“I’d rather race. But it’s just not worth it to me to keep going,” Androulonis said. “It sucked every last drop of fun right out of running the track. People always do things for one of two reasons: fun or money. And if there’s neither one, it’s pretty clear they won’t continue.”
He is closing Bradford Speed- way because of souring relations with competitors, a situation he attributes to un- truths that have proliferated on various social media about his operation.
Androulonis feels the unrelenting, vitriolic negativity fed upon itself causing to renounce their support. Car count declined.
The tipping point for the embattled promoter came the day after one of the few races that beat the weather in 2014.
“The wife and mother of one of the drivers berated me in church,” Androulonis said. “That’s when I realized for certain that I was done.”
Andrulonis has interests including real estate, broadcasting, and retail. He owns Colonial Media + Entertainment, an integrated marketing organization that specializes in marketing and promotions for local businesses.
With eight radio stations, numerous websites and social media, Colonial Media + Entertainment is far ranging. Its radio stations will be the beneficiary of the planned tower installation.
The erection of a radio tower, which will soar 500 feet in the air and be anchored by three guide wires, each extending over 300 feet from the tower’s base, creates an untenable environment for future speedway operations.
June 24 - 052The new capacity will enable Colonial Media + Entertainment to develop new programming and channels with an eye toward serving an ever-broadening Spanish-speaking market. Construction itself will take place in phases, starting with the demolition of the structures on the property and grading of the ground. The soil will need to settle over the course of the next nine months before the structure of the huge tower base can begin to be built.
A disparate racing program has been planned for the June
28 finale including Monster Trucks, Motorcycle stuntman Doug Danger, Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks. An American Cancer Society benefit that was rained out on June 13 will also be part of the agenda.
Second year promoter and track owner Andrulonis entered his third year at the speedway’s helm this year with ambitious plans of racing FASTRAK Pro Late Models, DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Stock Cars, Pure Stock and Mini Stocks two nights a week, Friday and Saturday.
The Bradford Speedway he purchased in the winter of 2011-2012 had been closed for two years and was in need of attention.
“When I opened in 2012, I honestly didn’t know if I would run a second race. But we did well, all of 2012 did.”
The proven successful businessman but fledgling promoter adopted a flamboyant style of selling his speedway. The track website often featured spectators instead of drivers. Hard news including race results in- formation was often quirky in its composition and issued sporadically, observed first hand by AARN.
The speedway has been plagued by rainouts this season and recently announced it was dropping its Friday events to concentrate solely on the Saturday racing.
Androulonis admits his interest in continuing to operate the track diminished primarily for one reason: the constant negative posts on internet and social media.
Andrulonis originally purchased the speedway property with the intention of installing a radio tower at some future point, since the elevation of the property permitted radio tower construction on the premises.
But Andrulonis insists closing the track in the middle of the 2014 season was never part of long range plan.
“I’d rather not close and turn it into a tower site. We had a tremendous year in 2012, our first year and from there figured to build on that,” Andrulonis. “The first year, things went surprisingly well, so well that we were making money. If we can make money with the speed- way, why not? Plus it was a lot of fun. So we kept on.”
Androulonis now feels the 2012 season went so well be- cause of the radio commercials his stations ran.
As a communications businessman, Andrulonis has in- sight into the industry as a whole and social media specifically. He is dismayed by the results of a recent survey that crossed his desk.
“The consulting group surveyed dozens of social media sites (across a wide spectrum of interests and monitored tens of thousands of posts. Its findings were that 82% of all postings are negative. That’s more than four out of five. Many of the posts were found to be out and out falsehoods. That’s what I have experienced from the middle of 2013 until now.”
“The day after our announcement, the negative posts are continuing,” Androulonis said. “I actually have several racers on Facebook trying to set up a ‘boycott’ of the track on its closing night. Just unbelievable. They continue to want to destroy rather than build up and create one final good memory of a racetrack that’s been around for sixty years.”
Androulonis said he is mystified about rumors of final night sabotage. “I guess you’d have to ask them (the drivers) because I sure don’t understand it. But the posts you’re seeing on Facebook are what I’ve been putting up with since the end of last season and that’s why track promoting is no longer fun or profitable for me.
“There have been posts by drivers saying they weren’t paid for racing. That is untrue. At a drivers’ meeting this year, I asked for anyone who had not been paid or knew of anyone who had not been paid to see me. No one did.
“I think it is possible that be- cause there are so many tracks around here and some of them may be in trouble, that the bashers lose track of the facts.”
Androulonis, only partially in jest, wonders if social media bashing is unique to northwest central Pennsylvania.
“Another track within forty miles of me, Allegany Mountain Raceway in Kane, Pennsylvania, closed last year. The owner claimed negativity among the drivers was the rea- son he closed. Maybe it’s just our area.”
Nevertheless, Jeff Androulonis, though clearly disillusioned by his experience as a racing promoter, is hoping for a send- off this Saturday that befits a speedway with six decades of history.
“There is a heritage here. The track deserves a fitting send- off,” Androulonis
Androulonis is a native of Upper Black Eddy, Pa., and is the nephew of Robert “Hoop” Schiable, a colorful driver of on the northeastern dirt Modifed circuit in the late 1950s and 1960s. As a youth, Androulonis spent many Saturday nights in the grandstands of Flemington (NJ) Speedway.
Bradford speedway operations began operations in 1954 when auto races were held at the Bradford Rodeo Grounds a half-mile away from the present track site.
NASCAR’s first (and only) visit to the local area occurred on June 12, 1958, at the “New” Bradford Speedway. The NASCAR Grand National event marked the Grand Opening of the Bradford Speedway at its current location—thus the word “New” in the facility’s name.