GREG CYBULSKI SAYS GOODBYE AFTER 13 YEARS OF DIRT
A friend once told me to enjoy my ride, because one day it would end. At that time in my life, I had started writing my periodic motorsports column "Dirt from the Stands" for Don MacAuley's SprintsandMidgets website.
Little did I know that this one lone opportunity would springboard me into a fast-paced 13 year journey in dirt track racing that almost seemed to pass as fast as the high-flying action I was covering on race day.
In my racing life, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet and work with many wonderful people. Most are still with us but sadly some have passed.
Racers, fans, media, volunteers, photographers and promoters have all played a part in this journey.
As in life, I have seen the best in people and also the worst in people. All I will say about the negative is many good people with great ideas to benefit the racing community have been prevented from doing so because of politics, selfishness and greed by those who wish to keep the status quo.
In the world of racing, you learn who your friends are and who are not. With some it takes a little longer to discover than others.
Politics is the bane of racing. We lose good people because of it. Pure and simple.
I love the province of Saskatchewan for many reasons. If I had to use one word to explain, it would be COMMUNITY.
In the Fall of 2003, an email enquiry from then board member and mini-sprint racer Darcy Walker blossomed into a long-standing friendship with the folks at Southeast Saskatchewan's Estevan Motor Speedway.
The atmosphere on race night is more reminiscent of a family reunion with the setting at a dirt track. Of all the places travelled, I have never felt so welcomed by a community than by the people of Estevan. The first time I walked up to the pit gate to sign in, I was greeted with a friendly smile and "Hi Greg!"
Darcy Walker, former track president's Reg Stephen, Pat Boyle and David Mack are only a few of the people who always made me feel at home. I was always treated well and that's the best feeling in the world.
My promotional work for Estevan's sprint car races sparked a new friendship with the racers of Edmonton's Alberta Sprint Tour. This 360 sprint car group had expressed an interest in travelling eastward to Estevan and possibly to Winnipeg as early as 2006.
Although this proposal fell on deaf ears in Winnipeg for a number of years, I never stopped promoting the idea. It was something I believed in and if given the opportunity I KNEW it would work.
My support of the Alberta Sprint Tour was honored with a 360 sprint car weekend at Speedy Creek Raceway in Swift Current, called the Prairie Dirt Classic, which ran from 2007 to 2009.
2009 was by far my favorite year.
The dream of an extended western prairie sprint car tour was finally realized in 2009 with shows in Winnipeg and Swift Current.
The misconception of Winnipeg only supporting a 410 sprint car show was debunked with 16 360's in the pits on race night. The finale is still talked about today.
Travelling with the Alberta teams to Swift Current was a great experience. This was the first father-son trip Aaron and I had taken outside of Manitoba. Top that off with sprint car racing on a fun bullring in Kenetic Park and you had the makings of a memorable racing trip. Besides the great racing was the friendly racing community of Speedy Creek Raceway who made me feel most welcome during my visit.
2009 was also the year that president Darren Pallen invited me to write for the Northern Lightning Sprint Association. We started on Saturday nights with the Enduros before moving to the mainstream Thursday night program in 2010.
The lineup has changed quite a bit from the teams in the inaugural season. I have had the pleasure of meeting some really nice people through the NLSA.
For an open wheel advocate like me, a weekly class like the Lightning Sprints was a welcomed change from one sprint car show per season.
Past NLSA president Darren Pallen and current NLSA president Chris Unrau have always been supportive and respectful towards my family and I. At the end of the day, that means a lot.
For all the years I was involved with Victory Lane / Red River Co-op Speedway, I never quite felt at home there until the Lightning Sprints arrived in 2009.
If there is one Manitoba dirt track that has that "COMMUNITY' feel that I enjoy, it is Morden's ALH Motor Speedway. Southern Manitoba's short track is my kind of place with it's friendly, laid back atmosphere and fun racing.
This year I finally accepted a long-standing invitation by my good friend Anthony Leek to visit Emo Speedway. There was a greater sense of urgency about going as Anthony's priorities have changed over the past few years. The Northern Late Model Racing Association was at Emo and after seeing that show, I was kicking myself for not going sooner. Emo Speedway is a flat out fun bullring to watch racing on.
If I was to ever own a race track and needed a management team, I already have a short list of candidates. The list is based on my personal experiences with people and observations over the years. My top 2 candidates would be Anthony Leek and Derek Pollock. When it comes to race promotion, Anthony has a positive energy and drive that very few would be able to keep up with. His good vibe is infectious and I would welcome that any day.
I have admired Derek Pollock's entrepreneur's spirit since I first met him. From selling stickers to custom diecast cars to renting race cars, Derek has a knack for creating fun and entertaining products that people will buy into. He was hired as the manager of Red River Co-op Speedway in 2008. Sadly, Pollock only lasted one season.
If I was to ever want a promoter who would create a fun, family-friendly atmosphere for fans to come, and enjoy themselves on race night, Derek Pollock would be my guy.
Involved and engaged fans make for happy return customers. I am confident that both Derek Pollock and Anthony Leek would bring that to the table.
Self-proclaimed promoters who simply open a gate and sell tickets are not what they claim to be. Apathy in any business is a killer. You not only lose good people within your organization, you lose customers.
My decision to retire from motorsports writing is a simple one. I wish to spend more time with my family and pursue other interests that I have put on hold for many years.
There are, however, some parts of my racing life that I will continue with.
Before I turn out the lights, I want to thank each and every one of you who has been a part of my racing journey for the past 13 years. You all hold a special place with me that I will treasure for as long as I live.
One more time for the road.
This is your Prairie Dirt reporter Greg Cybulski saying, Take care and God Bless.