New owner at Bradford Speedway


By KEN LEET Special to The Era | 0 comments
It isn?t  often you can safely say that something has ?risen from the dead,? in the sporting world, particularly in stock car racing.
But this coming season, you can say that Bradford Speedway, the area?s oldest and most historic racing venue, has been given new life. The speedway, located in Rew was closed early in the 2014 racing season after a couple of tumultuous seasons and was declared to be finished as a racing facility. But it has recently been purchased, and its rebirth is a mere few months away.
Kane businessman Norm Asel is the new owner of the quarter-mile track, and the plan is to open in late spring or early summer, due to the harsh winter. The new owner and his crew plan to refurbish the aged facility, that will now be known as ?Old Bradford Speedway.?
Rod Biehler, longtime local announcer and one- time promoter at Bradford Speedway, sees nothing but positive in the sale of the speedway.
?I think with Norm taking over the facility, hopefully he can take it back to the respect it had in its hey day. He has a lot of experience in racing and he will do it right. Bradford is one of the greatest tracks in the nation, you?re right on top of the action, and it?s just a fun place. It was my first announcing job, first promoting job, anything I did in racing, I did it there first.?
He added, ?The last two years have been a downfall for racing locally. It will be great to see them bring it back to respectability, the way it used to be. Freedom Motorsports Park is running weekly, and Little valley Speedway has expanded its schedule, and now with Bradford running, it?s good for racing.?
Jeff Gardner, who has several years of experience in racing in multiple capacities at area speedways, has been appointed general manager.
?I?m looking forward to getting in there and getting to work,? Gardner said, noting that Asel has recently purchased much of the track prep and concession equipment from the former leaseholder at McKean County Raceway.
One thing that has been somewhat of a hindrance to drawing fans to Bradford Speedway over the last several years has been a lack of improvements, notably the concession area, the bleachers, and a lack of restrooms.   
?The thing I?m most excited about is having the new concession stand from Smethport, and a new sewer line has gone through, and this gives us the opportunity to have bathrooms in the near future. As far as track equipment, we purchased a lot of it from MCR, including a tractor, sheep?s foot, packer, and water truck.?
Asel and his crew are weighing their options to also install new seating, a glaring need at the facility for several years.
?Obviously, we?re going to upgrade the grandstands. We don?t know if we?re going to buy them or build them. One way or another, there is going to be an upgrade in seating. The Asels have the capabilities of doing a lot of that work, they have the equipment and the knowledge, and that?s huge,? Gardner said.
As for the on-track action, a four division card of Crate Late Models, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks will make up the weekly action, which will revert back to Sunday evening racing, with the first green flag flying at 6 p.m.
Along with the weekly action, track officials are considering hosting an E- Mod special, and possible appearances by the NY6A Mini Sprints and Legend Modified Series.
Also being discussed is an alignment with the RUSH Racing Series for the Crate Late Models, while attention has been given to the three stock type divisions.
?We tried to write the rules in those three divisions, so that most regional competitors will be able to race here,? Gardner said.
The team of Asel and Gardner will be available this weekend at the 33rd annual Olean Center Mall Stock Car Show, and Biehler, the show founder, is excited to have the new management team, as well as some other new attractions to the show.
?One  thing we have never had at the show before was any TQ Midgets, and Olean?s Bill Peterson has organized an appearance by the Hellbilly Heartbreakers, Olean?s Roller Derby Team.?