FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Baer Field Speedway kick off the 50th year of providing family entertainment and championship-level stock car racing to Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas in 2013, and it will do so with a new promoter at the helm.
Long-time speedway promoter Tom Isch has retired, ending his 20-year reign over the facility. Stepping into his shoes will be area businessman and racer Jon Raney.
For Raney, owner of Jonny on the Spot Delivery Service, the opportunity to step into the promoter’s role was more of a surprise than a goal.
“I grew up watching races and helping drivers run their cars at Baer Field and later started my own driving career there,” said Raney. “I’d largely been away from the Speedway for the last several years, but my son decided he wanted to race, so I built him a go-kart for Friday nights. As the season went on, I started having conversations with Tom Isch and he revealed to me that 2012 would be his final year. At that point, the wheels started turning. As a racer, you always play the game, ‘If I had the track, I’d do this and that.’ Well, now I do, so I guess I get the chance.”
To assist in the day-to-day operations, Raney has hired area businessman and racer Ed Evans as general manager and retained longtime speedway employee Bob Koorsen as program director. The speedway has also hired a new sales and promotions staff to try and bring the historic facility more into the public eye.
One of the immediate priorities for the new management is to make the facility more fan and family-friendly.
“Baer Field Speedway is a 50 years old she certainly shows her age in some places,” said Raney. “We’re invested in this for the long term, so fans can expect to see some immediate changes the next time they come through the turnstiles as we started on improvements, less than two weeks after we took over the property.”
The Speedway will kick off the 50th Anniversary season on May 11 with the Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series in the first of two appearances in 2013.
Other special events will include the 16th annual Gold Cup on July 27; $20 car load nights on May 27 and June 29; the 50th Anniversary Night with four 50-lap features and $5 admission on Aug. 17; the first appearance in nearly a decade for the MSA winged supermodifieds on July 6; the return of the ARCA/CRA Super Series on Sept. 15; and the return of the Outlaw Super Late Models and the Three Rivers Festival 100 on July 17, featuring a Speedway record $10,000 winner’s purse.
Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Front Wheel Drives will be a part of every Saturday night racing program.