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Upgraded Empire Dragway Renews IHRA Commitment

Monday, 31 May 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Concrete walls, a 3/8-mile repave into the shutdown, doubling the length of the staging lanes — these are some of the huge projects Empire Dragway owner Jerry Scaccia decided to tackle when much of the racing world was shut down with the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s the reason for all these upgrades? To make it a better experience for the guys and gals who race at the Leicester, New York facility. The response has been a great car count in the early season. 

“The racers appreciate the improvements we’re doing,” Scaccia said. “The racers have been following us pretty good.”

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They’ve also followed the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) programs and recently Empire Dragway signed a new sanctioning agreement. With a huge emphasis on bracket racing, the track is immersed in the IHRA Summit SuperSeries, the largest and most prestigious championship program in all of bracket racing.

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Several Empire racers have gone on to find success at both the regional and national level. At the IHRA Division 3 (North Stars) Summit Team Finals, Matthew Vogler won the Junior Dragster Race of Champions and Doug Lynden was honored for the Best Engineered Full Bodied Car.

Vogler was also one of the 2020 Empire representatives at the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals along with Mark Tallmadge (Top), Reid Ricketson (Mod) and Eddie Semlitch (Sportsman).

In addition, Empire Dragway is scheduled to play host to the IHRA Sportsman Spectacular presented by Hagerty and Moser Engineering on June 19-20. Part of Scaccia’s loyalty to the IHRA is the relationship built with the division director Jon O’Neal, about whom the track owner said has always been there to support them.

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As a former driver, Scaccia knows how important the track upgrades are to the racers. His first car was a Modified 1965 Chevrolet Impala. He retired eight years ago and took over the track ownership role. Still, he has great memories of his own days behind the wheel.

“There was a class up here that ran 4.70,” he said. “I had a 1967 Nova that I ran in it. I enjoyed that class. Then, I had a Top Sportsman car. I ran it a couple of times, but quit once I became a track owner.”

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Always a car guy, Scaccia operated a mechanical and body shop nearly 50 years. To have such a successful business, it required a solid customer base. It’s the same with the racers and the way he’s always looking to make the facility better.

“Whatever money comes in, I try to put it back in the track for the guys,” he said. “Since I’m retired now, it gives me something to do and I enjoy doing it."

Last modified on Monday, 31 May 2021
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