Bronson Speedway in Bronson Florida: schedule of events, results, point standings, special events, free passes.
Source of the article below: https://www.ocala.com/entertainment/20110826/new-owners-inject-fun-family-feel-at-bronson-speedway
“We want to preserve short-track, Saturday night, hometown, grass roots racing,” says Ann Young.
The Youngs say they bring a new vision to the speedway.
BRONSON — Chris Young had been married to his wife, Ann, for 30 years, and probably should have known better when he started joking around with her last August about what they should do next with their lives.
Ann Young, who met her husband while they were both involved with NASCAR, typed the words “race tracks for sale” into Google.
What popped up was the high-bank track in Bronson, so she called her husband in from the garage, where he was working on a race car, and jokingly told him she knew what they would do next: buy their own track.
“He turned around and walked back into the garage, but I timed him,” Ann Young said Friday. “He was back in eight minutes and now here we are, a year later, at that track.”
The Youngs, who live in Long Island, N.Y., and have races up and down the Atlantic coast, closed on the property Feb. 9 and began to focus on what Ann Young said is the couple’s vision.
“We want to preserve short-track, Saturday night, hometown, grass roots racing,” she said. “I can count on one hand the number of Saturday nights our family has not been at a track.”
ABOUT BRONSON SPEEDWAY
– Located on State Road 24 in Bronson
– Saturday night racing
– Pit gates open at 4:30 p.m.
– Grandstand opens at 5:30 p.m.
– Practice begins at 6 p.m.
– Racing starts at 7 p.m.
– Admission prices:
Adults – $12
Ages 12 to 17 and 60 and over – $8
Ages 6 to 11 – $5
Children 5 and under – free
Pit access – $25
Buying a track that’s been around for about 40 years and has been through several owners and managers meant the Youngs had to come up with a way to draw back fans and race teams that may have had negative experiences in the past.
The Youngs plan to focus on racing as a family activity, both for spectators and for participants.
Among those with long associations with the Bronson track are J.W. McNeal, owner of the Tuffy Auto Service Center in Jonesville, and Gene Owen, former University of Florida Police Department commander and a semi-pro race car driver from Newberry.
Both men have raced at Bronson and both have sons who have gotten lots of experience there.
Now, both men are committed to spending their Saturday nights at the Bronson Speedway once again because of the atmosphere the Youngs are working to create there.
“This is the type of track that will bring fans back to racing — an affordable place to bring a family with a lot of excitement on the track,” McNeal said.
Owen said the Youngs, who have experience as drivers, owners, officials and in almost every other aspect of racing, understand why the racers spend so much time and money to participate.
“For the driver, it is all about the adrenaline rush. There is no other reason we do this,” Owen said. “I’ve been trying to quit this several times, but I race because I love it.”
McNeal said racing has entered a different era because fans no longer have the money they did 10 or 15 years ago.
“Small tracks like this one here in Bronson are what will bring the fans back because it is affordable and it is something the families can do together,” McNeal said.
From New York Times on Bronson Speedway
ARCHER, Fla. — The rumble of a distant lawn mower, the whoosh of a passing motorist and the buzz of a pesky fly hung in the air at Bronson Speedway.
The rural quiet of a warm Saturday allowed Ann Young, the owner of the small-town racetrack here, to listen to her doubts. Maybe she had made the wrong decision when she bought the speedway in 2011. Maybe running a short track on the weekends, about 1,100 miles from her family and her home in New York, was not worth the effort.
Bronson Speedway sits on 36 grassy acres just outside the Florida town for which it is named: Bronson, population 1,100. The wood-plank grandstands do not quite reach the top of the sabal palm that brushes up against the scoring tower. A black and white checkered sidewalk leads to a white wood-paneled concession stand with three red-frame windows. A collectibles store stands a few feet away, but there are no souvenirs inside, and the door appears to be painted shut.
“I just feel like there’s a reason why I need to be here,” Young said. “I don’t really know what it is yet.”
The idea to buy the track started, almost as a joke, when Young and her husband, Chris, 60, were discussing a retirement project at their home in Calverton, N.Y., in 2010.
Ann Young, 55, has been a registered nurse for 34 years, working her way up from a nursing school in Brooklyn to running the operating room at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, N.Y. But her family’s passion has always been auto racing. Young has been going to racetracks since she was 5. Chris raced cars for more than four decades. And their son, Christopher, 19, started racing at 14.
To humor her husband, Ann Young searched online using the phrase “racetrack for sale,” and the words “Bronson Speedway” appeared in the results. Knowing nothing about Bronson, Fla., or how to run a racetrack, she read on.
A visit to Bronson and months of negotiating landed the Youngs an abandoned, three-eighths-mile, high-bank asphalt oval track with a 6,000-square-foot garage and two mobile homes for $700,000, according to Levy County property records.
“I bought a speedway, they gave me the keys, and I went, ‘Oh, what do I do now?’ ” she said.
Ten days after buying the track, the Youngs held a meet-and-greet for area residents and drivers. A group of them, curious to meet the new owners, turned up.
“We had a pretty good opening day,” Young said, “but it was downhill after that.”
More than two years later, the racetrack has made no money. Ann Young has had to dip into her family’s savings to make repairs, secure permits, update licenses and sometimes pay the drivers’ purses. Some racetrack staff members and volunteers have moved on to other jobs, or left because of disagreements with management about personnel and rule changes, the details of which they aired on online discussion boards.
Some of the missteps have been self-inflicted; when a couple of cars showed for one sportsman class race, Young cut the purse in half, angering the drivers.
“It was a mistake I would never make again,” she admitted, adding, “What that guy cost me on the Internet is what I didn’t pay on the purse.”
Bringing in fans has been Young’s steepest challenge, but she is not alone. There are 1,396 registered racetracks in the United States and Canada, according to the National Speedway Directory. The attendance drop-off at small-town tracks has been attributed to more entertainment options, televised races and higher fuel prices, according to interviews with more than a dozen racetrack owners and promoters. But what has stayed the same at these smaller tracks are the personal connections that owners, drivers and staff members have to the sport. Small-town racing runs deeper than money. It is often tied to family.
“A lot of people who are buying the racetracks, they typically have some type of involvement in the industry,” said Tim Frost, the publisher of the National Speedway Directory. “They raced as a kid, or they had a parent involved in the industry.”
The Youngs are no different. When she was a child, Ann Young would sit in the grandstands next to her parents and brother to watch her neighbor, Bobby Taylor, compete in figure-eight races at Islip Speedway on Long Island. Going to races on Saturday nights gave Young an early brush with hometown celebrities.
“We could go in the pits afterward, and we’d get to sit in the car and get autographs,” she said. “We knew this guy. We were part of his family.”
But the family outings to the track slowed after her parents divorced when she was 8. In her teenage years, Young baby-sat for a driver whose wife was a scorer at Islip. Soon, Young began scoring races, climbing her way to chief scorer. She met her husband at Islip, and their son, Christopher, started racing before he was old enough to drive to the track. Their youngest child, Leah, 8, now watches from the grandstands.
Like other owners and promoters, Young has had to rethink the business model of a small-town racetrack by turning it into a broader entertainment venue. She has hosted a political rally and an antique car show at the racetrack, and she plans to hold small concerts and open a mud bog. Other racetracks have hosted demolition derbies, freestyle motocross events, monster truck shows and fireworks displays.
But by hosting nonracing events, she and other racetrack owners run the risk of distancing the image of their tracks from the family experience of small-town Saturday night racing — the one Young had sitting with her parents and brother in the grandstands, watching her daredevil neighbor race, or when she helped reattach a muffler to her son’s car during a race while standing in as his crew chief.
“On any given Saturday night, on any given hometown grass-roots racetrack, stars are born; drivers are mentored,” Ann Young said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re driving in a strictly stock or you’re in the highest division you can go in, the skill that it takes is what you’re developing at a Saturday night racetrack.
“Those guys that are racing at Daytona started at a Saturday night racetrack.”
Eleven hours after the metal gates to Bronson Speedway opened on that Saturday, early in June, Ann Young’s worries were drowned out by the revving of engines, a fan’s shout of “Let’s go, Danny!” and the race announcer’s pitch for the concession stand’s homemade angel food cake. Young tried not to think about her many concerns; instead she focused on making sure the 114 ticketholders sprinkled around the grounds were having a good time.
“Failure is not an option,” Young said. “We haven’t had the opportunity yet to really focus on just Bronson Speedway. And at the end of the day, yes, we are losing money, without a doubt. At the end of the day, when I show up there on Saturday, I show up every show with a renewed hope that it’s going to turn around.”
After the evening’s races, the departing spectators passed a hand-painted exit sign that read, “Thanks Bronson Race Fans,” a sign built with the hope that they would return.
A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 17, 2013, Section B, Page 11 of the New York edition with the headline: Reviving a Racetrack. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/sports/autoracing/new-owner-faces-long-haul-at-a-short-track.html