If there’s one man that’s always busy in short track racing in Ontario, it has to be Mark Dilley with the multiple roles that he is juggling.
The veteran currently is the track promoter for Sauble Speedway as they enter their first year under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner. However, he will also be behind the wheel, competing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series once again.
For the seventh straight year, he will be splitting driving duties of the No. 02 Ford with Kerry Micks. While previous years have seen Dilley run all the ovals with Micks on the road courses, they will switch it up a little this year with both drivers doing a little bit of both.
Being involved at both levels keeps Dilley in constant contact with NASCAR series personnel, which he feels is like a big family despite the size of the organization.
“They treat themselves as professionals – not just by being NASCAR, but on the side in marketing support, media support, technical support, and helped us a lot more for me at a short track like Sauble, or the Toronto Indy – whatever they’re doing,” he said. “They pump it up. You put the name on it, and it changes everything.
“Like this series here with the alliance between Pinty’s and NASCAR – I’ve always said that if you aligned those two companies – Canadian Tire and NASCAR – nobody could ever be better than those two in this country, but Pinty’s has gone beyond that. I can’t say enough being involved as a promoter, being involved in the Pinty’s Series.”
Being at both levels has also allowed Dilley to gain a perspective that many don’t see in budgets for speedways, as well as for teams and drivers. A lot of discussion surrounds where money can be saved with the racecars and equipment, but lost is the ‘soft costs’ which includes traveling, hotel rooms, food, waves, etc.
“Scott (Steckly) will have three teams, which probably will be 25 to 30 people traveling around across Canada. That costs a lot of money to do,” he said. “That’s really over the years what you’ve seen, and that’s the same on the short track level on a regular Saturday night with tire costs. That’s where the race tracks I commend them in Ontario because we formed an alliance together in trying to control tire buys, trying to control different things. Same as in the Pinty’s Series. You can’t just go in and buy 40 tires every weekend. You have a strict rule of how many tires you can buy.”
Keeping a busy schedule and continually making sure that budget is balanced is no easy task, and could be something that Dilley changes up in the years to come as he hinted possibly stepping away from the driver’s seat.
“Jukasa – I ran so bad there that I was going to quit after that race – not just because I ran bad, but I was going to pack it in after that race,” he said. “But running that bad, that’s not happening. I like them all. If I’m going to pack it in at the end of the year, I want to run one more road course, so it works out. Kerry is going to run some ovals – Loudon and the Quebec races – so it just kind of works out. So who knows.
“I don’t know the whole exact plan now. It depends on how my time goes. I want to pump the heck out of my race track, and I want to push on it, but on the other hand, I’m strongly committed to the Pinty’s Series. One way or another, we’ll have a car in every race – whether I’m there or not.”
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