Ignition

LOOKING FORWARD AND BACK

NASCAR PINTY'S SERIES DIRECTOR REFLECTS ON HER FIRST SEASON, AND LOOKS AHEAD TO 2018

- By Jamie Maudsley | Photograph­ybyseanPho­tography by Sean Gardner / Getty Images, Matthew Manor and Matthew Murnaghan

In terms of changes, the biggest one in 2017 was a switch of venues for the season finale, as the series championsh­ip race moved from its long-time home at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborou­gh, Ontario to the former Jukasa Motor Speedway (formerly Cayuga Speedway), which last hosted a Pinty's Series race in 2008.

Venue switches in motorsport­s can be tricky, especially when the new site hasn't staged a race in many years and the outgoing venue is a popular one. Putnam was pleased with the way everything came together, however, and appears optimistic about Jukasa's future.

“We had an opportunit­y to move that last race, and we moved it to Jukasa Speedway. We were pleased with everything, and the facility is top notch - this generated a lot of interest in the event. It's great to have a facility like that open again in Canada,” she said.

The full 2018 schedule hasn't been released as of this writing, but one race has aleady been confirmed and it's a big one for the Pinty's series. For the first time in its 11-year history, the series will race outside of Canada when it invades the Magic Mile at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sept. 21-22, as part of a NASCAR Triplehead­er weekend, joining the Whelen Modified and K&N East series.

“It's a good opportunit­y for our series, and I think the bigger track will be a good experience for our drivers, especially the ones that are looking to move up through the NASCAR Series,” Putnam said when asked about the event, which has been dubbed the Short Track Extravagan­za.

Despite the potential benefits of racing on a bigger stage like New Hampshire, challenges remain for the Pinty's Series.

One of the more pressing issues that Putnam and her team faced in 2017 was a reduction in car counts that included a low of 14 (at Autodrome Chaudiere oval south of Quebec City), and no oval track event attracting more than 20 racers.

When asked about the issue, Putnam chose to focus on

n 2017, the NASCAR Pinty's Series named Cherie Putnam as its new Series director, and with her first season recently concluded she spoke to Ignition about her first season in a new role with NASCAR, as well as the future of Canada's only national motorsport­s tour.

prospects for 2018 which she insists are promising. “We've been working with some new teams that have shown interest, and we are getting some positive feedback,” she said.

Her response, however, doesn't address what could happen when the Pinty's Series goes to the United States. If the series is finding it difficult to attract 14 cars to an oval track event in Quebec, producing a respectabl­e car count for an event in the U.S. given could be challengin­g given the added cost teams will have to bear when they cross the border.

Numerous people within the industry have claimed, off the record, that some Pinty's teams will be able to rent their cars out for the race to help offset the cost. This probably won't happen, however, for the simple reason that if up and coming American drivers want to rent rides for the event, there's no reason why they wouldn't be able to do so in the K&N East Series race, where rental fees should be about the same as they are for the Pinty's series.

As for the ongoing hunt for sponsorshi­p funding, an area where several teams are struggling, Putnam explained said the series is ready to help.

“We have a group that works with the teams. The teams get all the demographi­cs to help with their marketing efforts, and if they need assistance with anything, we connect them up with that marketing team to give them some help.”

One other big concern has been the price at the gate for Pinty's races, which has become a bit of issue for some attendees. “The tracks all set their own ticket prices, but we try to work with them,” Putnam said when asked about the issue.

Ticket pricing is a very real concern for the tracks, however, as a recent conversati­on with a track promoter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reveals.

“We don't have our race booked yet for 2018, and we're still not sure if we're going to take one. We had a sponsor for last year's event, but with the purse that NASCAR charges for a show, it's tough to charge the people the amount of money at the gate that we have to charge them, and still only break even. It's not a money maker for the track,” they said.

The Pinty's-only event on Victoria Day weekend, and the doublehead­er with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in late summer have become huge weekends at Canadian Tire Motorsport­s Park. The Truck series has drawn record crowds since the inaugural event, but attendance has been on the rise for years in May, in a weekend that is headlined by the Pinty's stars.

Putnam talked about the events at `Canada's Home of Motorsport­s', stating that, “CTMP is a state of the art facility, and it shows by what they do all year around. The fans love the place, and this year we were very proud that four of our drivers were able to compete in the NASCAR Truck event, and they all ran very well throughout the event.”

As for ripping off the rookie stripe for completing year one on the job, Putnam said, “It was a great learning curve, and you really appreciate all the things that you didn't see, or didn't know that are part of the series. I'm looking forward to next year already.”

Despite the challenges that remain, year one seems to be a success for Putnam, but plenty of hard work lies ahead as she charts the future course for the Pinty's series in 2018 and beyond.

By the time you read this, most annual general meetings will have been held at the Club and Regional levels, which means ARMS will have a new President. After eight years, it's time to let someone else have some fun!

So now it's time to get into winter mode and prepare race cars and karts for the upcoming competitio­n year, starting in May. I hope Santa is good to everyone this year and will bring all kinds of go-fast goodies. So turn up the heat in the garage, forget about the snow outside and get those parts installed and everything tuned up. After all, it's less than four months before you'll have your first chance to test out those new parts at AMP, the kart track at Scotia Speed World or a parking lot or airport runway near you for some autoslalom fun.

Now I'm not saying you must stay inside on every weekend during the winter. The Bluenose Autosport Club Rallycross Challenge has returned for its 16th year, and even though three of the eight event series are already in the record books at this writing, there is still plenty of fun to be had. All events are all scheduled for Conrads Quarry just outside of Dartmouth, N.S. If (and when) the ground freezes enough at Atlantic Motorsport Park near Shubenacad­ie, N.S. some events will

t's hard to believe that another year has passed, but 2017 has been a great one for motor sports Atlantic Region Motor Sports (ARMS) with increases in the number of participan­ts in all levels of our sport from karting to regional car racing.

also be staged there. So far, event turnouts have been great this year, and we hope it will continue through the end of the season.

For more info and upcoming dates regarding Bluenose Autosport, go to www.bluenoseau­tosport.ca

The Moncton Motor Sport Club (MMSC) and the Fredericto­n Motorsport Club (FMC) are each planning to hold Autocross events at some point during the winter. These events will likely be at Magic Mountain in Moncton, N.B. and Speedway 660 in Geary, N.B., but are weather-dependent.

For more info on MMSC and FMC events, go to www.mmsc.ca and www.fredericto­nmotorspor­tsclub.ca

Rallycross and Autocross are great ways to learn better car control in less than ideal conditions and for those willing to venture out into the winter weather, it's a great way to experience motorsport thrills in a low-cost, fun atmosphere. Conditions range from sunny and cold to rain and snow on surfaces that vary from dry tarmac to snow-covered to sheer ice.

There is a calendar of upcoming events on the ARMS web site at www.armsinc.ca, which includes all Regional events. There are Regional Championsh­ips in Race, Rally, Autoslalom and Time Attack.

The various ARMS member clubs all have their own championsh­ips as well. More detailed event info is available on the ARMS forum and the club web sites.

In all, it promises to be another great year for ARMS, so we look forward to seeing you at the track in 2018!

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