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Outstanding Women in Racing Award Winner: Audrey Payne

Imagine, if you will the sight. Here it was 1988 and the little quarter mile race track located in the Cortland-Blodgett Mills Area, known as Skyline Speedway, which had laid dormant since 1980 was a mess. Nearly every building on the property had fallen down; brush and debris were everywhere and the pits were filled with junk. “We were very naïve,” Audrey Payne commented about the track that her and her husband Frank had just purchased. Frank, who owned a repair shop was never a driver but had fielded a late model for years, racing at Dundee, Woodhall, Utica-Rome and Weedsport Speedways, among others,. “I was twenty-five years old when we got married,” Audrey reminisces. “I had never been to race before I met Frank so I knew nothing about the sport until we started dating.”

“We sold the car at the end of the 1986,” Audrey reflected. “We ended up sitting out the 1987 season but we couldn’t sit still so when the opportunity came up to purchase Skyline in 1988 we jumped at it.  We had to rebuild nearly everything on the grounds. Concession stand, towers, bleachers. You name it, we rebuilt it, and we also built new too…It has been a team approach between

The Payne’s were really starting from scratch in every facet. With the track being dormant for so long not only was the track infrastructure in a sad state of repair there really was no built in supply of cars and fans to tap into.  “We decided at the very beginning to only run divisions that for other tracks would be a support class,” Audrey said “and we have never regretted that decision.” Today the track has six divisions, sportsman, IMCA Modifieds, Pure stock/street stock, eight cylinders, four cylinders and Empire Sports Trucks. Frank and Audrey’s adult children Heather and Andrew are also involved with the track. “Heather is available whenever I need her while Andrew is a tech inspector.”

Now days the couple split duties with the track surface and scoring being the focus of Frank’s attention, “and I do everything else,” Audrey said. “I do the paper work, ordering food for the concessions, picking up the trash and cleaning the rest rooms. “  In other words she is the face of Skyline Speedway making all of the off track decisions.  “Saturday’s are a long day,” she continued saying. “We are typically at the track by 9 Am and most of the times do not leave until well after midnight, even as late as 1 Am Sunday morning. But I just love being involved with the sport.”  It is because of her hands on involvement and leadership that the DIRTcar Hall of Fame is please to recognize as a co- recipient of the 2011 Gater News “Outstanding Women in Racing Award.”