Drivers and fans alike should experience a much smoother ride at Delaware Speedway this season.
The first phase of an ambitious $2-million, two-year makeover has started.
"I believe we're really making a statement with these improvements," track owner Arlen Scherba said. "It's not going to be the same old, same old. We're committed to making this the best track in Canada and these plans are a reflection of how seriously we take that mission. We just could not keep going the way we were. You either make a decision to get out of the business or you make a decision to spend money on it. Spending money, in my experience, normally makes you money."
Changes include much-needed repairs to the historic half-mile oval as well as pit road, new electronic scoring and ticketing systems, improved concessions and washrooms, an updated public address system and a second spectator entrance for season ticket holders and VIPs.
Foremost are the repairs to the racing surface, which has come under considerable criticism from drivers in recent years. For the first time in decades, sections of the asphalt will be torn up and replaced.
Turn three will be repaired along with turn four through to the start/finish line. Pit road has already been totally redone in new concrete.
Scherba hopes the racing surface repairs will be done in time for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race on June 6.
Delaware re-affiliated with NASCAR this season and that, combined with the track repairs, are the reasons the series is stopping here.
The last time that series -- under the old CASCAR Super Series banner -- appeared at Delaware was in 2005. The track then severed its ties with the sanctioning body. NASCAR bought CASCAR in 2007.
"We may have a few 'under construction' signs around the track for the first part of the season, but once our fans see what we've been working on, they'll be very pleased," said Delaware operations manager Paul Houghton.
The 2009 season opens tomorrow at 2 p.m. with the Transmission Direct enduro and Ultimate Sandblasting and Coating chaos cars.
May 1 is opening night for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly divisions, with the APC late models, Peterbilt of Ontario super stocks and Challenger Motor Freight trucks racing that night. The Powerade modifieds have their first go on May 8.
The new ticketing system will allow advance online purchases and will operate 24/7,which should alleviate long lines at the ticket windows for major events.
Other major events are the Auto-Value Super Sprints (June 5), Lucas Oil Canadian Vintage Modifieds (July 17), the ISMA super modified doubleheader (Aug. 7-8), and the Great Canadian Race Weekend (Sept. 4-6).
Delaware has also hired former track manager Kevin Bulmer, now of CPT Entertainment, as sales and marketing partner.
For more information, visit www.delawarespeedway.com.