Season Update for 2021

All Six Classes to Return for ABC Raceway’s ‘21 Campaign

by Nick Gima

                Ashland, WI, November 18 — With the 2020 stock car racing season sufficiently in its rearview mirror, the Board of Directors of the ABC Raceway is already working on its plans for the Summer of ‘21.

A priority among the various orders of business undertaken at the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association’s recent meeting in Ashland was the decision to continue with its six-division offering during regular-night race programs for the upcoming season. Despite concerns about dwindling car counts, the ABC Raceway will once again host WISSOTA-sanctioned Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds, Pure Stocks and Hornets, joined by the track’s own ABC Six-Cylinders – on Saturday nights at the historic three-eighths-mile red-clay oval in northern Wisconsin.

“Just like other tracks in our region, we have watched car counts drop in some divisions,” stated Raceway Board president Eric Erickson after that November 4 meeting, “to the point at which, as a promoting group, we needed to evaluate those classes at our track.”

The division of greatest concern to the Board, according to Erickson, was the Pure Stocks, where weekly entry counts midway through the 2020 season were averaging in the mid-single digits.

“Our Pure Stock numbers were down, but there are several drivers out there who occasionally make the trip to Ashland over the course of a season,” said Erickson. “All we ask is that they show up a few times next year, race for what is one of the best purses offered to their division in our area, and put on a good showing for our fans.”

The Raceway has some ideas in the works to help bring the Pure Stock counts back up in 2021.

The Six-Cylinder class also made a nice resurgence during the final six weeks of the season. “We were very pleased and proud to see our Sixes come back in good numbers,” Erickson said. “We believe they will be back in that mid-teens range in 2021, based on the addition of a handful of rookie drivers getting out there late last year and the news we are hearing of a few more drivers building cars for next year.”

With the 57th season of action at ABC still a half-dozen months away, the Board is currently looking at several ideas to spice up the 2021 schedule. Talks are ongoing with several regional touring series in an effort to add some special nights to the slate, with groups like the Northern Renegade traditional sprints, Advantage RV Mod Series, and IRA winged 410 sprint series interested in returning to the historic red-clay oval.

“Lots of racing series want to come to our track,” Erickson explained. “We will work hard with them to fit them into our program, as long as things work favorably for both them and our track.”

The return of the FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series is all but set, with July 24 as the tentative date. The popular Northern Renegades wingless sprints are hoping to make as many as four visits to ABC as well.

Like most everything else, the Raceway staff had to deal with the concerns, restrictions, and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the sport. For ABC, that meant voluntarily cancelling a scheduled race night on August 1 during a spike in local viral cases – one of only two tracks known to make such an unselfish gesture in the entire state of Wisconsin in 2020. Later, the Raceway Board made the difficult decision to shut down its highly-anticipated 45th Red Clay Classic in early October, although an unfavorable weather forecast also played into that decision.

But the award-winning organization, led by Erickson, worked very closely with State and local governments to take every precaution possible to minimize the transmission of the coronavirus to its fans, drivers and track workers at the facility throughout the season.

“We anticipate that to be an ongoing battle in 2021,” said Erickson of the virus. “But we are committed to cooperate with every recommendation and mandate that is passed along, to do whatever we can to protect the people that come to our track during this outbreak.”

The ABC Raceway staff is still hopeful that some sort of celebration of the 2020 season and an honoring of its champions can be put together during the upcoming months. Information will be released as it is made available on the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, and via its FaceBook page.

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