Jim Schaefer, known by many as “The Long Island Mod Maniac," wasn’t born into a family that loved short track racing. As a kid, he attended local racetracks such as New York's Riverhead Raceway, but he didn’t become aware of his passion for racing until he reached his 20’s.
At that time as a 20-year old, Schaefer took in a Modified race at Riverhead and instantly fell back in love with short track racing, the “Mighty Modifieds" in particular. Since that day, Schaefer has been involved with sponsoring cars and helping promote numerous events including the SBM 125 at Star Speedway in New Hampshire.
Fast forward to the present day and Schaefer is now one of the biggest contributors to a three-race open Modified series that is garnering a large amount of attention throughout the Northeast region. Schaefer has teamed up with long-time racing promoter Dick Williams from “The Racing Guys” to present three of the biggest open-Modified races of the 2014 racing season.
“Dick is an old-time promoter from I want to say the 70’s or 80’s,” Schaefer said. “He’s been around racing a long time. He had kind of stepped away. He’s now back, but more as a fan. I never met him until I was at Seekonk back in October.”
“Basically, I think there was a plan to get my mind and his mind together. He was the one that mentioned doing this three-race series where you would pay out money, good money, to the bottom. His policy was to build this from the ground up.”
As Schaefer and Williams began talking about their vision to promote a three-race open Modified series, the two race fans were aware of the risks of promoting three brand-new events. Instead of taking that risk, Schaefer had the idea of including two already established events, the SBM 125 at Star Speedway and Open-Wheel Wednesday at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, as two of the three races for the series.
“At first, I got real nervous and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about, three races almost from scratch?’” Schaefer told Speed51. “To me that just scared the crap out of me, so I said to him, ‘Seekonk and Star are two races that have already been kind of started and are existing races. Why don’t we consider them two of our races and we’ll make them bigger and better? Both tracks went along with that and for a while we didn’t think we were going to get a third track.”
That third track was announced on the series’ Facebook page on December 23 as a brand new event, the Mother's Day Bullring Bash 100 at New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway on May 11. For that event, Dick Williams will be renting the track from track owners Red and Judy MacDonald.
The event at Lee will be the first of three events for the series. Star Speedway’s SBM 125 on June 14 and Seekonk Speedway’s Open-Wheel Wednesday on July 23 will be the final two races of the newly established three-race series.
Schaefer believes the biggest test for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series will be the opening event at Lee USA Speedway on Mother’s Day. Although Schaefer has received mostly positive feedback about the event on May 11, he does understand the risks involved in holding an event that day. He’s hoping the quality of racing being sold will be enough to bring fans to the racetrack that day and pack the stands.
“The Mother’s Day thing is a gamble,” Schaefer said. “Mostly I’ve heard nothing bad, but once in a while you’ll see something like, ‘that’s going to be a hard sell’ or ‘I don’t think we can come to that race because it’s Mothers Day,' but any kind of race promotion is a gamble no matter when you do it. Turkey Derby in New Jersey had to be a gamble the first time they decided to do it and that’s been a huge success.”
Unlike some of the other promoters in racing that promote as a way to bring in income, Schaefer and Williams will not pocket a dime from this new venture. Any additional revenue they receive from the three events will go right back in towards the points fund that is currently set at $10,000.
In order to be eligible for the point fund, drivers will need to participate in all three events. Currently, the champion of the three-race series will pocket an additional $1,500. The top-20 eligible drivers will receive payoffs from the point fund.
Schaefer doesn’t believe the point fund will be a make-or-break factor in getting drivers and fans to attend the races, but he does think it’s a little something that will show appreciation to the drivers showing up to the events.
“It’s really just to show support for all three races,” said Schaefer. “If nothing else, at least maybe guys will get back their entry fees. It’s just a little something extra. That’s just an added thing we’re giving the teams to say thank you for coming.”
In addition to the points fund, the biggest contribution made by Schaefer and Williams will be the increased purse for all three races that will pay $1,000 to start each race. The financial contribution to make that happen is a large one, but the two Modified fans are hoping to put on great racing at all three events, pack the stands, and feel good at the end of the day about what they’ve been able to accomplish.