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FUTURE GROWTH: DIRTcar Northeast Director Dean Reynolds Shares Perspective on State of Region’s Racing

Dean Reynolds discusses drivers moving up divisions, the importance of local tracks, and where he sees room for future potential growth

As his fifth season as the DIRTcar Northeast Director begins, Dean Reynolds has high hopes for racing in the Northeast.

He’s seen and experienced first-hand what the region has to offer, and how it has steadily grown. But with a high caliber of driver talent emerging and local tracks strengthening their programs every year, he believes there is significantly more potential that can be tapped into.

Here’s what he had to say about it:

Q: What are some of the biggest Northeast races that people should be tuning into this season?

REYNOLDS: The big events are always the Series races. Even though in the DIRTcar Northeast we have 15 tracks in weekly shows, and several tracks have special shows within their weekly shows, the culmination of everything is when the Series comes to that particular track, whether it’s the Super DIRTcar Series, 358s, Sportsman, or Pro Stocks.

Any weekly Big Block show at Orange County (Fair Speedway) is a big race because it’s $5,000-to-win, and then another big event would be the Gerald Haers Memorial at Canandaigua [Land of Legends Raceway] in September. That’s a $10,000-to-win, $1,000-to-start race. That’s a big one that comes.

Q: Who are some of front runners to keep an eye?

REYNOLDS: I think you have to look back at some of the other division’s points. The drivers that finished up front are all looking to return. The main focus will be Dave Marcuccilli, Lance Willix, and Ryan Bartlett in the 358s. In the Sportsman, even though we expanded the championship Series this year, I think you are going to see the same players, (Cody) McPherson, (Zach) Sobotka, (Cedric) Gauvreau, the Buff brothers, and Jessica Power, as they all wanted to have this expanded Sportsman Series.

We haven’t had a lot of people move up in divisions except for Ronnie Davis III. He’s the big one that moved up from 358 focused to Super DIRTcar Series focused. The other would be Chris Mackey in Sportsman looking to make a 358 splash this year. Justin Stone is another one. He’s probably going to be doing a 358 this year, but he’s also making a Big Block splash this season. He showed up at the first couple Super DIRTcar Series races, and he’s weekly at Albany-Saratoga (Speedway).

In the divisions itself, it’s kind of the same players. Zach Sobotka is going to do a couple Big Block races this year to see if he can get a ride and move up next year. That’s kind of a unique story there. In the Pro Stocks, it’s kind of a mix and match with Bruno (Richard) retiring. You know you’re going to have a new champion. Luke Horning will probably come in as the favorite, but now with the stabilization of the rules, we just don’t really know who’s going to follow the Series. I think that’s going to be wide open.

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Jessica Power (#52) battles around the turn in her DIRTcar Sportsman Modified.

Q. As the Series Director, how do you feel about drivers moving up divisions and how do you feel that affects DIRTcar Northeast racing in general?

REYNOLDS: That’s actually what I want. I want the progression. I kind of have been putting a focus on it since I came aboard in ’19. I want to get Sportsman drivers to move up to 358s, 358 drivers to move up to Big Blocks, and we’ve been getting some of that. It’s been good.

If there’s not any 358 divisions in their area like Albany-Saratoga (Speedway) or [Land of Legends Raceway], then maybe they do move up to Big Blocks. Even up in Quebec, Felix Roy was a 358 guy because that’s all they have up there. Now, you see what he’s doing in a Big Block. As far as what you want to see in the Northeast, that’s what it’s all about. We want to see that progression.

Q. What are other ways you have seen DIRTcar Northeast grow in your time as the Series Director?

 REYNOLDS: One thing you always look at is car counts. That’s the big thing. You want to see that the car counts have stabilized or grown. And where we have found that, believe it or not, is in the Big Blocks. The tracks have increased their Big Block numbers considerably. Albany-Saratoga (Speedway) has always been strong, Orange County (Fair Speedway) has always been stable.

The one area we would like to see get back and grow a little bit is Lebanon Valley Speedway. They had a good start with 28 on their opener. We have seen that keeping the rules stabilized over the last five years has really helped the Big Block scenario. Drivers know that they just need a Big Block. They don’t need to worry about a special kind of weight or a different type of motor. We’ve been staying right with the program there and people have been seeing the advantage of staying status quo.

Q. What are some other long-term goals that you have for the region?

REYNOLDS: I think the growing is going to be more focused on, believe it or not, the weekly programs. We need the weekly tracks to stay strong so they can develop the stars to move on to the Series and then when the tracks bring in the Series events, and hopefully maybe Series events can grow outside of the Northeast because of the popularity of the Super DIRTcar Series and maybe even other divisions, that’s what I’d like to see. Trying to get some tracks outside of the area to conform to our rules and bring them under the DIRTcar banner. Right now, [what will] grow the Northeast is keeping stability, especially coming out of Covid [19]. I think people just need to know what to bring and what’s going to happen. Once you have stability, then you can build your foundation to maybe try something a little special or different.

For more on the DIRTcar Northeast, follow the Series’ Twitter page and keep up with the 2023 schedule at dirtcar.com/schedule.

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