THE TALE OF TWO DOUG’S AND HOW THE BRIDGEPORT SPEEDWAY WAS RE-IMAGED
Bridgeport, NJ – As the opening of the 2022 racing season approaches here in the Northeast, Bridgeport Motorsports Park prepares to celebrate their 50th Anniversary season. Fifty years of anything is an impressive achievement but it is even more so when you look back over the last eleven years at this Logan Township facility.
The track’s future was uncertain at the completion of the 2011 racing season. Jay James had tried several different approaches over recent seasons, trying to find the recipe of success for the 5/8th mile track. Most recently, James had eliminated the Big Block Modifieds from weekly Saturday night competition and replaced the division with a Crate Modified class instead. The change fell short of its goal and James was ready to walk away from the track. That left the ball in the hands of Bridgeport’s co-owner, Brian Ramey.
Ramey and James were business partners but Ramey did not come from a racing background. What he knew about racing was what he had observed through James’ involvement as a car owner and then as a promoter. But he knew business so when Doug Hoffman approached him about taking on the management of the Bridgeport Speedway, Ramey recognized what could be the solution to his problem.
Doug Hoffman had achieved a lot of success during his racing career. A good part of that success, came on the Bridgeport 5/8th mile track where Hoffman remains second to only Jimmy Horton on the All-Time Feature Winners List. Hoffman’s success behind the wheel extended throughout the North and Southeast and into Canada, including the coveted win on the Syracuse mile one October.
Hoffman had also established a reputation as a promoter after several successful seasons at the helm of the Mahoning Valley Speedway.
Hoffman wanted to bring back the excitement and prestige of winning at Bridgeport. The first thing he did was to bring back the Big Block Modifieds. He introduced the Bridgeport fans to his Poker Series events and he brought the starting line-up behind the grandstands and most importantly, to the fans. Things were looking up at Bridgeport by the end of the 2012 season.
Hoffman’s untimely death brought about another management change as Ramey recruited Dave Adams, Keith Hoffman and Danny Serrano for his Management Team and brought in Kolby and Haili Ramey to spearhead the marketing and financial side of the business. There is no doubt that Ramey and team continued to build on what Hoffman had started. Traveling divisions returned to Bridgeport to race and new attractions were added – all the while, Ramey looked for a new owner for Bridgeport that would continue to operate the race track. He had hoped that in two years time, he could show that the track could be a profitable business and a new owner could be found.
Two years stretched into seven years before Doug Rose entered the picture. The 2020 season served as a period of transition with Doug and Brittany Rose taking the lead for 2021.
Rose had a vision and that vision did not include the 5/8th mile track. He had the same goals as Hoffman – to return the excitement and prestige to the Bridgeport track – but Rose had a completely new track design in mind. His 4/10th mile track was an essential part of what Rose wanted to do at Bridgeport. Just as soon as the final checkered flag waved on the 2020 season, Rose went to work.
It wasn’t long before sneak peaks appeared on social media – the high banks certainly caught people’s attention. There were some who resisted the change – the 5/8th mile track had a loyal following. There were others who were not fans of the “big track.” The size and speed of the 5/8th actually kept some people away. Rose was firm in his resolve and construction moved ahead.
Then came Covid-19. Not how anyone wanted to start a new business venture! Opening day didn’t come until what should have been mid-season. The delayed start did not detract from the impact of the new track configuration. It was a hit from the wave of the first green flag. Three and four wide racing and slide jobs that were typical only in open wheel cars before, now became the norm in all divisions. It didn’t take long for those naysayers to be converted to fans of the High Banks of the Kingdom of Speed.
Rose also dealt with another big blow before the start of the season when Danny Serrano suddenly passed away. After working side by side for months, Rose was now left on his own to find his way. Serrano held the keys to the past while they shared the vision of the future.
It wasn’t easy but Rose continued with his plan. Rose made many of the ideas that he and Serrano shared into a reality.
Bridgeport Motorsports Park – The Kingdom of Speed – quickly became the talk among fans and competitors alike. It brought excitement back to racing in Logan Township, New Jersey. People viewed the racing on the new venue from near and far. It wasn’t unusual to hear USAC or World of Outlaw drivers talk about watching the racing at Bridgeport via the internet.
The two Doug’s may have chosen different paths but their goal was to make Bridgeport successful and each has done so in their own, unique way. Both worked hard. Track management is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week type job. There is no off-season for a track promoter. The days are long and the work is hard.
Both chose to be very hands-on. From running races to over-seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes. Doug Hoffman took responsibility for track prep. Doug Rose oversees everything from the refreshment stands to the racing schedule – from Drivers Meetings to pay-off. Both recognized that every and all decisions made could and would effect the bottom line and their success.
Both had open communication with the drivers. Both recognized the need for the fans to be able to connect to the drivers.
Both came to Bridgeport with promotional experience – Hoffman from Mahoning and Rose from the Action Track USA.
Hoffman brought years of racing experience and a very successful racing career. While Rose has done some racing – ARDC midgets, SpeedSTRS, Modifieds – his background was more unique. While one thing led to another, Rose’s associations in racing have mostly circled around professional race car drivers. He has crewed on Modifieds, Silver Crown cars, Busch Grand Nationals, NASCAR Modified Tour cars and sprint cars. Rose came to Bridgeport with a very large circle of relationship throughout many levels of racing.
This weekend, Doug Hoffman will once again be honored with the Doug Hoffman Memorial Race during the Kingdom of Speed weekend – the 2022 season opener. Hoffman laid some of the foundation that Rose built upon.
Racing owes both Doug Hoffman and Doug Rose a debt of gratitude. Attend the Doug Hoffman Memorial this weekend and honor and support the work of both men at the Bridgeport Speedway.
Thank you to everyone that makes the Kingdom of Speed Possible…..
Church’s Auto Parts
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