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NickHolt

Cravens brings changes to San Antonio International Speedway, 11-4-88

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This article was way, way too difficult to cut up and scan to make any sense at all as you can see from the pic I took of it.  So I am transcribing the article below the pic for your reading pleasure.

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Headline read, "New owner Cravens bringing changes to speedway"

And the article read like this:

"I know I'll be living in a glass house for quite a while," Bill Cravens said last week.

But the new owner of San Antonio International Speedway, the half-mile paved race track just south of town, didn't sound at all bitter, just grateful for the chance to prove himself.

Cravens, who recently purchased most, if not all, of the stock formerly owned by used-car dealer and auctioneer Joe Horne, has come onto the local stock car racing scene like a knight on a white horse to rescue what many perceived as a track slowly dying from mismanagement, no matter how well-intended.

"Many drivers did not feel that they were getting a fair shake and a lot of them were staying home rather than race," Cravens said. "The rules might change from one week to the next, and worse yet, the purse could change too, depending on how many drivers showed up to race.

"Everybody will be watching us closely to see if we do what we say we will, but I'm confident the stock car racing community will have a better place to race than they've had in years, both from the spectators' point of view and from the racers' point of view," he said. "I'm a man of my word and I welcome the chance to prove it."

Cravens has kept a number of the promises he made, starting with changes in track personnel. 

"Terry Barden will be the new chief tech inspector. He has been racing for many years and knows what to look for. And he's the kind of guy people can put their confidence in," he said.

Barden would rather be racing than tech-inspecting, but a major racing accident a couple of years ago left him with a race car destined for the salvage yard and a badly mangle leg or two. 

He still walks very slowly and although he doesn't admit it, there has to be a lot of pain with each step he takes. His courage in coming back from such major injuries is admired by all who know him.

"I'd be out there racing next year if I had the money to put together a competitive car," he said recently.

And don't think for a minute that Barden is a pushover just because he's got a great attitude. 

He loves racing with all his heart and track-side politicians and other ax-grinders will soon find that once he's convinced of something, it will take more than dynamite to get him to change his mind. And he'd rather go home and watch TV than make a decision he felt might be wrong for racing. 

"I'll be fair to everyone," Barden said.

Another well-applauded Cravens appointment is that of Bill Lay to the flag stand.

Lay is a veteran flagger who many will remember as the man in the white uniform atop the flag stand at Pan American Speedway for several years. Widely respected at tracks all over the Southwest because of his recent association with the DART racing organization, Lay has shown he knows how to work well with track owners, promoters and competitors, even under the most stressful conditions. 

Cravens also has promised several major improvements in the physical plant, and he is delivering on those promises. 

A quick trip to the track is all that is needed to verify this, as construction already has started on the promised concrete front-straight wall. Also seen are folks taking measurements and figuring materials to submit bids on a number of projects.

"Bids should all be in by the end of the week for the new ladies' restrooms in both the spectator area and in the pits," Craven said. "And we should know who will be building the new two-story press and scoring tower soon. We are building a glassed-in, 12-foot-by-40-foot press area and VIP room on the first level, and an 8-by-16 foot room for scoring and the track announcer on the second. There will also be a nice camera deck on the roof."

The existing press box will come down and become the new front-gate ticket office, with the old ticket office becoming the new pit-gate ticket booth. 

Cravens also told of plans to remove all the grass and dirt between the track surface and the pit area on the front straight and replace it with blacktop before the start of the racing season. The 40-inch concrete wall about 30 feet from the track will increase the total pit area and leave room for a legitimate pit road, complete with an elevated winner's circle.

Other improvements announce by the new owner include a general sprucing up of the whole facility, and the eventual re-paving and re-lighting of the track.

"One of the most encouraging signs I have seen so far is that the Super Stock racers are starting to make commitments to race next year," Cravens said. "Right now we have 23 Super Stock drivers signed up for next season with several more saying they plan to bring their cars back out."

The Super Stock division, formerly called San Antonio Raceway Late Models, had dwindled down to a mere handful by the end of last season and the class was questionable at best for the next season before Cravens stepped in.

"I met with the Corpus Christi drivers last Tuesday and there were about 60 people at the meeting. We signed up about 20 of them for Street Stock and Super Stock and expect another 20 or so to race with us next year."

Cravens says that San Antonio International Speedway will open its 1989 racing season on April 1 with a big two-day show. 

"You can count on it," he said.

NICK'S NOTEBOOK

Make plans now to attend the San Antonio International Speedway Awards Banquet on Feb. 18 at Aggie Park, 6205 West Ave. Dinner will be at 5 p.m. with the awards being presented at 6:30, followed by dancing until who knows when. Judy Balzer, who along with a group of dedicated volunteers worked so hard all season to make the points fund a financial success, needs to have reservations by Jan. 15 and checks by Feb. 1. For more information call the speedway office at 666-5300....

There will be a meeting of all Street Stock owners and drivers (no crew members or interested parties, please) at the Martinez Social Hall Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Super Stock owners and drivers will meet the following Tuesday, at a location yet to be announced.  

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