PHOTO: Airborne Speedway hosted a sellout crowd for their Fourth of July special in 2011. Officials hope that by focusing more on their own racers in 2012, it will produce more fans coming to the speedway. (Ricky St. Clair/VMM photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Sure, it may not be the holiday season, but Airborne Speedway plans on giving back to their own this summer by rewarding the racers who support its weekly racing program.

Airborne’s 59th season of stock car racing will be highlighted with just one event featuring a regional touring series. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) will make its annual stop to the half-mile on Saturday, October 6 for the 40th annual Fall Foliage 200.

Scheduling vacancies have allowed speedway promoter Mike Perrotte to create additional extra-distance races for his weekly divisions. The South Plattsburgh track has seen the likes of the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour, New England based Valenti Modified Racing Series, International Super Modified Association, and ACT in the last two years.

“My intention is to not have many or any touring series other than ACT,” Perrotte said. “We’ve done just about every series that you can think of, and I’m glad that we did that. But I know the importance of putting money back into our own racers’ hands. We’re trying to do more for our race teams. ”

This year will mark the inaugural season of the USA/Canada Masters Series created for the weekly Limited Late Model class. The mini-series between Airborne and Autodrome St-Eustache, located in St-Eustache, Quebec, will kick off in Plattsburgh on May 12.

“We (have) three big shows for the Limited Late Models,” Perrotte said. “I think you’ll see quite a few teams (from St-Eustache) at our opener in preparation for the May 12 series race.”

The current status of the national and local economy was just another reason for Perrotte to bring the Sportsman Modifieds, a new, affordable racing division at Airborne. The support class will run the same Chevrolet crate engine, as seen in the Limited Late Model division, and the same chassis as the 358-Modified class. The rules package will help give the racer a range of affordable options.

“This is a chance for people to race an open-wheel Modified without having to put in a $25,000 motor,” Perrotte said. “With the growth of our Modified division and the way the economy is, it gives a few guys a chance to race competitively without having to pay a pretty penny.”

The new division will make progression easier for potential drivers interested in joining Airborne’s headline class in the near future.

“This is a stepping stone into the Modifieds that we haven’t had in the past,” Perrotte said. “We had a good response from the drivers who competed in that exhibition race last September. I’ve had the idea of introducing this class for quite some time, and I feel like now is the right time.”

Arguably one of the biggest events on the calendar is a $3,000-to-win, 75-lap event for the newly created DIRTcar 358-Modified Asphalt Series on Wednesday, June 20. The four-race series offers a combined $60,000 in purse money.

“We have a built program that offers racers and fans something unique on asphalt,” Perrotte said in a recent DIRTcar press release. “We recognized how exciting this was and approached DIRTcar officials about it. They took it and placed a race last year at Dunn Tire Raceway Park in Lancaster, which opened up the opportunity for us to build a series with room to grow.”

Airborne Speedway’s opener is slated for Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m. The card features the Econo Lodge 50 for the DIRTcar Modifieds.