By CAROL HOUSSOUCK
CHEMUNG, NY – Chemung’s offseason brought with it a plethora of rumors about 2019. This week the rumor mill shut down when longtime Race Director, Ray Hodge, and his wife, Ellen, entered into an agreement with track owner, John White, to lease Chemung for the 2019 season. “At the end of the 2018 season I announced I was leaving the track because Saturday nights no longer worked for me,” Hodge said. He and Ellen had missed out on weekends with their children and grandchildren, something that had not been the case when the Speedrome ran on Friday nights. “We talked it over, had many conversations with John, and it all came together this week.”
Besides moving back to Fridays, race teams will see a few other changes. “We’re staying with INEX sanctioning for the Legends and Bandoleros, but we’ll no longer be a NASCAR home track,” Hodge stated. While the sanctioning will be gone, the three other divisions will not. “We’ll be running our Sunoco Modifieds, Super Stocks and 4 Cylinders, so fans will enjoy the same five divisions.”
In moving to this high-profile role at the track, Ray Hodge left behind the position he had held for the past several years. “Jerry Sinsabaugh will be our Race Director this year. He’s well known in the racing community and is looking forward to taking on this key role.” Other personnel will return, including track announcer Carol Houssock, who had also said she was leaving at the end of the 2018 season for the same reason as Hodge. Chris Zacharias will also be back to handle pit road and victory lane reporting. “Hope Miller will be back as our track photographer, but her parents will now be part of our team as well. Lyndell will handle sign-in’s, points, handicapping, and serve as a backup scorer as needed. John will assist Jerry Sinsabaugh as our Pit Steward.”
While the 2018 schedule was scaled back from prior years, the 2019 season will include between 16 and 18 races. “We’ll be holding practice the two Saturdays prior to our opener, and we’ll close the season with a two-day show,” Hodge added. The full schedule, set to be released by the first of February, does have some good news for those enjoying special shows. “We’ll hold two RoC races, one in May and the other in August during the NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen. We’ll also host two races for the New York Super Stocks, but those dates have not yet been set.”
What has been set is a competition meeting, which will take place at 1:00 PM on Sunday, January 20th at the Chemung Fire Department.
Hodge is also preparing sponsor options for this highly anticipated season at the legendary track. He will have that information available on the track’s Facebook page (Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome). In the meantime, businesses looking to sponsor either a racing division or a race night should call Hodge at 607-483-3468.