Since 1969, Kerry & Wink Bodenhamer have spent most of their weekends at a short track. Their plan is to continue to do that in 2014, but in a limited role.
Earlier this week, the Bodenhamers made a surprising announcement that they were canceling the 2014 season for the UARA-STARS tour, the series they had owned and promoted since 2002. The main reason was for the Bodenhamers to spend more time on current family issues. Both of Kerry Bodenhamer's parents were diagnosed with cancer and the father of his wife Wink suffered a stroke and broken bones in recent weeks.
“We could have kept things going had we been able to pay people to run the series, but Wink and I were not in a position to do that,” Kerry Bodenhamer told Speed51.com. “That takes funding and we were not ready to do that.”
The decision to shut down the 2014 season was not an easy one.
“This is the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life. This is the biggest load I have ever carried on my shoulders in my life,” Bodenhamer said. “We went to Indy (for the PRI trade show in December) and we had everything lined up and the schedule was almost done minus two dates. We were ready to go and all our sponsors were back on board, but we were not ready to give the time that we needed to make things run smoothly.
“It’s hard because it involves so many people. I have been racing since 1969 and we have done this tour for 12 years. We put a lot of time, effort and money into it.”
When the announcement came out on Monday night, some in the racing industry started to speculate if there was more to the reason behind cancelling the season.
“I know there are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks out there that said we were not going to make it, but we made it through tough years. 2013 was one of them,” Bodenhamer explained. “I felt we didn't have a great field of cars, but when I started looking around at other series and in NASCAR I saw that it's just a sign of the times. Racing has changed a bunch over the past 12 years and we have adjust to business model.
“The latter part of 2013, I didn't put the effort into the tour that was need because of my family. Unfortunately it showed. I saw that becoming a bigger problem and that's why we made this decision.”
Even though the 2014 UARA season has been cancelled, Bodenhamer is clear that this is only a temporary bump in the road.
“We will be at the track. When you have done something since 1969 you can't quit. We are regrouping and the early part of the year we may not be around as much, but we are going to be working to make 2015 as big a we can make it.
“It's like starting a championship season and you blow up on the first night. Sometimes you just need to close the garage door and regroup before you start thinking about it too much. We have that opportunity to regroup and make 2015 special. Rules, sponsors and tracks are what we will be working on and hopefully we can come back strong.”
Bodenhamer is optimistic on the return of the UARA Series in 2015, and is grateful for the support received by others involved with the series in recent days. But he also realizes that some teams that have been supportive of the series may be moving on to the next level. At the same time, he feels that UARA has a place for driver development.
“All the races have been positive and we know that some will not be back with us as they are moving up to another series,” Bodenhamer said. “We've had hundreds and hundreds of teams that have been positive and we have been blessed by that.
“We have a good stepping stone and our record of drivers in the past proves that.”