It’s not easy owning a motorsports racing facility. When your income depends on mother nature not being angry with you, life in the fast lane can be about as comfortable as a cat on a hot tin roof. You have to be alert and change with the times as fast as you can. The pitfalls are many,
OSHA, MSDS, local planning / licensing boards, traffic control, people issues; the list is long and varied. There’s no shortage of challenges facing race track owners every day. Just ask Alan Chervitz one of the owners of Bradenton Motorsports Park (BMP) located in Bradenton, Florida.
Let’s face it, in this world of constant and never ending improvements, change is inevitable if one is to keep up with the times. Many changes came to the Bradenton Motorsports Park racing facility in the year 2013, like booking in the Manufacturers Cup racing series.
Video courtesy of Nick Bowling Jr.
Prior to the Manufacturers Cup race that BMP hosted on April 5-7, 2013, the track and it’s current staff had never held a motorcycle drag race of this size and scope before. Hundreds of drag bikes were in attendance, some of them 1000 + hp machines capable of exceeding 250 mph. Alan Chervitz and his crew were thrilled to book in the Exoticycle Spring Cup race in April and they did so knowing they would host the Haltech World Cup Finals just seven months later. Both races are part of the Manufacturers Cup series of racing. “We were very happy to have the Manufacturers Cup race here in the spring, it was a great show and we look forward to doing more of these races in the future” commented track owner Alan Chervitz in a recent interview. “We’re committed to doing what it takes to put on the best shows we can for our fans and racers.” Clearly, BMP, is changing with the times, pun very intended.
When the racing facility came into the hands of present owners Alan Chervitz and Todd Dickinson, around the year 2001, the track was in need of a vast array of improvements. The track first opened in 1973 and during the close to thirty years preceding the most recent ownership, the track has undergone many changes. But time had taken it’s toll, on the facility and there was much to do to keep the track alive and relevant for drag racing in the modern era when the track last changed hands.
Serious upgrades began over 15 years ago (1998) when the track last received a full resurfacing, prior to Alan and Todd’s ownership. Their serious upgrades began in 2005 when they had the track ground and resurfaced. Then in January of 2007, they added six thousand feet of concrete containment walls to the track, a new starting line staging / beam system, and new concrete burn-out pad areas. The changes have been many and they remain on-going.
The racing surface of the drag strip is of course the centerpiece of the facility, so it gets the bulk of the attention. The most recent track up-grades began just after the August 31st 2013 race at Bradenton. The day after the Susan Keen Memorial event, heavy construction equipment rolled into BMP signifying change again for the track and it’s racers. Construction began in the first week of September and it concluded about two weeks later. The drag strip from the starting line to the turn off at the end of the track received full attention for this round of upgrades. Starting from the concrete extending out 1,600 feet, the track was ground deep and repaved with fresh asphalt. The remainder of the shutdown area was ground/scraped and resurfaced as well. The shutdown length at BMP is 2,600 feet long, ending with a right hand turn off for return to the pit areas.
This year, the grinding of the track racing surface was to a depth they’d not previously reached during past upgrades and this yielded surprises for the work crews. Alan got a call one day saying “Sir, we need you to come down here and take a look at something.” This is NOT the kind of call a track owner needs when a work crew is digging up his race track. When Alan arrived at the work stoppage location he was taken aback to see a worker holding wires and conduit in his hands they had unearthed in the deep grinding process. “When I saw that my heart sank, we were almost to the score boards when that happened” he recalled.
Alan’s fear was they had taken out the score board wiring, but such was not the case. What the crew had unearthed was in a manor of speaking; fossils of sorts from a drag racing era of yester-year. There was a time in drag racing when active photo-electric cells sent a beam across the race track to receptor cells that when interrupted initiated a precision electric timer to begin the calculations of speed. Sixty feet before the starting line and sixty feet after the finish line were the locations of these MPH sensors, hard wired into drag strips across the USA. The depth of the most recent track grinding un-earthed this Jurassic period, wiring system. Relived to learn of these wires were no longer in service, the work crews resumed their tasks. In about two weeks time, by mid September, they were done. The results, by all accounts so far, are very good.
To get a close look at the new race facility upgrades, we at Cycledrag, contacted local motorcycle drag racer Nick Bowling Jr, of Holmes Beach, Florida, who is a Super Comp and bracket racer that calls Bradenton Motorsports Park his home track. Nick has been in and out of bracket racing for decades and recently stepped up his big block Kawasaki for 8.60’s at just over 150mph and began racing in Super Comp this year at Bradenton. In the spring of 2013, Nick won the Exoticycle Spring Cup race in the S/C class.
When asked his impressions of the new race track upgrades at BMP, Nick replied, “The new surface at Bradenton is SWEET! I’m proud to call this place my home track.” While his opinion may well be a bit biased (just a bit) we at Cycledrag feel the photos Nick sent us and his Go Pro video taken just days after the track reopened, tell the tale with accuracy what MANCUP racers can expect when they roll into BMP in November. And this is mighty important for all concerned parties involved in MANCUP racing.
Bradenton Motorsports Park is about to host if not the biggest, what may well certainly be the most important motorcycle drag race of the decade: the Manufacturers Cup, Haltech World Finals, November 8-9-10. What will soon come to be known as “The Battle of Bradenton” is shaping up for this newly upgraded facility. We’ll tell you more about this big race and more importantly the Battle of Bradenton next week here at Cycledrag.