FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The future of Baer Field Speedway is cloudy at best after track promoter Jon Raney announced Wednesday that the track would be shutting down for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Raney is ending his association with the track, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary. The facility, which features half-mile and three-eighths-mile tracks, opened in 1964.
Raney indicated several factors led to him making the decision to cancel the season, including poor attendance and continued social media criticism. Raney took over the facility last year from former promoter Tom Isch, who later died.
“I’m heartbroken. I have three years left on a lease and had plans for renovating the grandstands, replacing the track lighting, a new scoreboard, and more, but I can’t throw money at the problem and hope to fix it,” Raney said on the Baer Field Speedway website. “Especially when the biggest obstacle is the attitudes of the very competitors who are the stars of the show. The very people who should be our best ambassadors. No other entity in sports allows their competitors to trash it (the sport) on social media. And the stars of those sports seem to be able to see the big picture, but for some reason short track racing has turned a blind eye to this behavior and it’s just out of control. And it’s not just here; it’s a problem brewing in this business everywhere.”
Several events at Baer Field have also been rained out this year, making it that much harder for Raney to gain any traction at the venue. At this point the future of the track is uncertain and no new promoter has stepped up to take over the track.