ARDC bows out of July 19 Oswego show

For more information: Linda Mansfield, lindamansfield@CompuServe.com ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series Bows Out of July 19 Oswego Show FLAGTOWN, N.J., July 11 - Under guidance from its membership, the Board of Directors of the American...

For more information: Linda Mansfield, lindamansfield@CompuServe.com

ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series Bows Out of July 19 Oswego Show

FLAGTOWN, N.J., July 11 - Under guidance from its membership, the Board of Directors of the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) has dropped the July 19 program at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway from the ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series schedule. The event will go on as planned with cars from the Northeastern Midget Assn. (NEMA).

ARDC's decision to not support the program was caused when NEMA issued a rule change for its cars for this event only through its July 2 newsletter, only 17 days before the race. The NEMA rule changes eliminated the club's minimum weight rule, which was not a concern to ARDC, but the stumbling block came when it decided to allow any NEMA car to utilize a 12-inch right-rear wheel and a 10-inch left-rear wheel for that one race.

The ARDC rule book complies with the wheel regulations that are standard with other midget organizations throughout the nation, which stipulate that wheels can be no larger than 10 inches on the right and 8 inches on the left.

"Our membership feels that this change in the NEMA rules gives the NEMA teams a big advantage, and the race is not being held on an even playing field," said Randy Mausteller, ARDC president. "NEMA has thrown a curve ball two weeks before the race.

"We asked the Oswego track management to issue clear-cut rules for the event, and announce the purse structure, several weeks ago. It has not done this, and apparently it is allowing NEMA to change the rules at will," he added.

"ARDC cannot condone this, because our rule book is our bible. After our rule book committee proposes changes, our members vote on all rule changes for the upcoming season over the winter, and it is the Board of Directors and our officials' responsibility to see to it that they are followed throughout the year. There never were any clear-cut rules established for this event other than both clubs would follow their respective rule books. NEMA's changing its rules for this one event, and doing it so close to the race date and without any prior notice to the other parties involved, makes it impossible for our membership to participate. The Board of Directors have to protect the interests of all of its drivers, not just the well-financed teams."

Mausteller added that he first learned of the rule change when ARDC members who are also members of NEMA brought it to his attention when they received their NEMA newsletters. "We spoke to our pavement drivers at our race at Lincoln [Pa.] Speedway on July 5 and then we called an emergency board meeting at the track that night," Mausteller said. "This development is a distinct disadvantage to our members, and they are solidly against participating. Our board heard their views and is solidly in agreement on this, so it will not be an ARDC point event."

Mike Roselli Sr., ARDC's business manager and booking agent, noted that NEMA runs totally on asphalt tracks, while ARDC splits its schedule between asphalt and clay tracks. "Ninty-five to 97% of our cars are not pavement-only cars; the teams use them to run both the asphalt and dirt events," he noted. "NEMA has a clear-cut advantage going in because they only run asphalt events, but no one in our club complains about that. However, we're not prepared to support a race when the rules are changed at will.

"I asked Oswego's Dick O'Brien to issue a clear set of guidelines for this event several weeks ago, which hasn't happened. As much as we love to race at Oswego, we just can't participate in an event which is run without guidelines."

Roselli added that this situation is just another chapter in problems which developed at the end of last year between the two organizations.

"They didn't like Lou Cicconi Jr.'s asphalt midget, which was perfectly legal in ARDC; Louie finished second in the 1996 ARDC CARQUEST point standings," he said. "There had been a non-written, working agreement that as long as a car passed tech through either ARDC or NEMA, it would be allowed to race in the other club's events. If there was something blatantly wrong, the club with a problem with the car would point it out and give the team a couple of races to fix it, but it was a pretty open relationship and it was working well.

"They didn't like Louie's car even before they saw it. They didn't let it race in one of their events last fall, and they refused to even inspect it," he said. "At that point we realized that our working agreement wasn't working. Then, to make matters worse, a very unprofessional reporter with strong ties to NEMA attacked ARDC in the racing press without contacting ARDC for its viewpoint. Another very professional reporter tried to get both sides but was told 'no comment' by NEMA. There are a lot of heated feelings on both sides, which make things worse.

"We need to sit down, work things out, and come up with a written agreement for the good of both clubs," Roselli added firmly. "We've asked NEMA for this to happen both verbally and in written form, and it's fallen on deaf ears. We're still willing to sit down and try to work out our differences with NEMA and come up with a written working agreement, but NEMA refuses to respond to us. That's the primary reason why things have come to this. It's a shame, but ARDC is not ruled by just one man. We have to look out for all of our members, and our board takes that directive very seriously."

Roselli is looking into the possibility of scheduling another event to replace the July 19 Oswego date.

"Right now we have five point races remaining: July 26 at Flemington (N.J.) Speedway; Aug. 9 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway; Aug. 16 at the Erie County (N.Y.) Fairgrounds; Aug. 23 at Lincoln (Pa.) Speedway; and Sept. 13 at Lincoln. Our cars are very professional-looking, we have some new blood, and we've been having very competitive races this year. We've had eight different winners in our first 12 shows. Overall, our club is very strong and we're continuing to build on our strengths both for the present and for the future."

There is also a special non-point event at Oswego on the ARDC calendar for Aug. 30. "That one isn't a point event, but an invitational show," Roselli said. "Whether any ARDC teams compete in that one or not is up to the teams individually, which is now the case of the July 19 show too. But as an organization, ARDC is not involved."

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