By Chris Graham/NRN
New Bridgeport Speedway owner Doug Rose announced sweeping changes to the Swedesboro, NJ facility in time for the 2020 season. Gone will be the 5/8 mile track in place since the facility’s opening in 1972, as well as the 3/8 mile layout erected for the 2018 season. In their place will be a new, from the ground up, layout. Measuring right around a half mile, the new Bridgeport Motorsports Park will open in time for the 2020 season.
Also seeing major changes will be the 1/4 mile layout, with a separate front-stretch for that layout being planned. Currently, the smallest racecourse shares a front straight with the larger layouts. There remains some ambiguity over the fate of existing infrastructure such as the location of the scales and victory lane. One item which has been confirmed is the move to a single pit area, with the new design utilizing the existing pit area in turns one and two.
The social media world is abuzz with reactions to the news. While the split was decidedly negative in terms of fan reaction, that isn’t necessarily a surprise. The reactions from the drivers, however, was decidedly more positive. Neal Williams told NRN, “I think the reaction is shocked and excited. I’ve never seen a full reconstruction happen at a track before, so that will be cool to see and definitely add hype to the facility which is what the sport needs.” Crate modified standout Jim Gallagher, Jr. said, “I love the new layout. I think Doug Rose has a racer’s mentality… I’m really looking forward to some two and three wide racing in all divisions.”
Looking at the 1/4 mile side of things, 2019 track champion Matt Smith, and runner-up Mike Rutherford, were both cautiously optimistic. When asked about possible changes to the small track, Rutherford said, “I don’t think its really possible with the layout, but I’ve always been a fan of progressive banking. The track currently can get two grooves, but it’s dependent on the bottom slicking off.” Smith echoed those comments saying, “Summer time, of course, it’s a tough track to get a hold of; so banking would be a benefit.” That amounts to nothing more than drivers wishes, and there has been little said about the future of the 1/4 mile. Rutherford added, “I’m a realist and understand that the primary focus of the management team is the program that draws a front gate as opposed to a mostly back gate program.”
With only the limited information currently in the open air, the future of Bridgeport looks bright. What remains to be seen are the details which always make-or-break these types of projects. We will be speaking with Doug Rose this Friday at the Skyscraper III event, and that interview will be carried live on the NRN broadcast. Coverage will begin with the first timed practice session, and continue throughout the weekend.