RPW Column: Jay Smalley Discusses The State Of Street Stocks In The Lower Hudson Valley

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – WINGDALE, NY – It’s the time of year where you hear a lot of the State of the Union or the State of the State type discussions. And it’s also the time of year where local short tracks are forming their rules package for the upcoming season.

And sometimes, a racer wants to discuss the future of his racing class.

Who better in the Lower Hudson Valley to talk about the State of the Street Stocks than veteran racer Jay Smalley.

Jay is a driver who loves to race and he cares about the division he races in. Years ago, he formed a popular Facebook page called the Street Stock Help Source. It’s a page where full fender drivers can swap ideas, look for parts and generally discuss anything related to full fender racing. It recently went over the 25,000 members total.
Now Jay has formed a second page called the Future of Full Fender Discussion. Jay formed this group in hopes of getting ideas not only to keep the division active, but to keep it growing.

“Basically, it’s evident that car counts have dropped over the years. There are many different things that can be factors in this,” Smalley says. “Some of the types of cars that we use in the division are over 40 years old. In addition to finding suitable cars, there are some difficulties in getting the necessary parts.”

And Jay explains one of the parts issues.

“For years, the most popular carburetor has been the 2 barrel Rochester CFM. You can’t buy that over the counter anymore. When things like that happen right off the bat, it has to discourage new drivers from entering the sport or our division.”

As the sport evolved in the 1980’s, cars that were formerly Limited Sportsman became Small Block Modifieds and around 1988, a D.I.R.T. Sportsman division was launched. And quite quickly, drivers who got their start in Go Karts or Slingshots would be more inclined to bypass the Street Stocks and go right into Sportsman.

It’s concerning to Jay on how to get the younger drivers interested in the division with the lure of jumping from Slingshots to Sportsman. But, as Smalley explains, there are sometimes some exceptions.

“Jayden Sleight. He started in the Slingshots and then moved up to the Pure Stocks at Accord. He finished 2nd in the points with 2 feature wins, so it is possible to have young drivers move up with success. He’s a great example of what a young driver can do in this division. He has great family involvement. ”

One of the things that Jay and others who are involved in the division in the Lower Hudson Valley would like to see is for all 3 tracks, Accord Speedway, Bethel Motor Speedway and Orange County Speedway have the rules for Street/Pure Stocks to be as similar as possible.

“Between the 3 tracks, we have a pool of about 60 cars. And when there are 3 different sets of rules to follow, it makes it difficult to race at Accord on a Friday and either Bethel or OCFS on a Saturday.”

But according to Smalley, the three tracks are as close as they have ever been with the rules.

“There was a discussion that some of us longtime racers participated in on the NorthEast Racing With Predmore and Murns podcast. Emerson Cargain Sr, Ray Tarantino and myself joined Gary Predmore and Joel Murns on the podcast. We had a great discussion on a lot of the issues with the division. And afterward, we had some drivers as reps to get together with the other drivers to get their input on how we can keep the division alive and growing.”

One thing that is encouraging to Jay is that the 3 local tracks now have their tire rules similar.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel. For the longest time, you had to have 3 different sets of tires for the 3 different tracks. That’s a big expense. Now, with us all running on the D.O.T. tires, it makes it easier to race one night then going to another track the next night without a different set of tires.”

One encouraging thing that Jay saw in 2021 involved the final northeast dirt racing event of the season, Accord Speedway’s Gobbler event.

“When the schedule for the Gobbler came out, I was surprised that the Street Stocks weren’t on the schedule. We had always been part of the Gobbler and we had always, in my opinion, put on a good race for the fans.”

Smalley decided that he wanted to try to get the division added to the race card.

“I contacted Accord owner Gary Palmer. He was concerned about the Street Stocks car count. He said that if we could guarantee 20 cars, he would put us on the schedule.”

It took some cooperation on opening up the rules a bit to draw some other racers who didn’t race usually at Accord.
“We were able to get the rules adjusted a bit and quite a few cars came down from the Southern Tier and other places. We had a good car count and I thought that we put on a great race. That type of cooperation is what we need.”

Besides his racing, one of the great things that Smalley does is that he is always looking to get new blood into the sport, not only for the Street Stock division, but for local racing in general.

“I personally try to bring as many people into the sport as I can. The more you introduce the youth to the sport, it’s a positive thing. Anybody that you can bring to the races and introduce them to the sport can only be beneficial.”
Another idea that Jay said was being discussed is called the Open Series Racing Challenge.

“We would like to have one race at Accord and one at Bethel. It may be more. And the thing that makes it open is that basically, the rulebook is thrown out.”

The rules for it would be:

  1. The car must be safe
  2. D.O.T. tires required
  3. The car must meet weight requirements.

“Whatever you can strap a D.O.T tire to, you can race. This might be what you see more of in the future as the Street Stock type cars become harder to find,” Smalley said.

As for his own plans for the upcoming season, it will be more of the same for Jay.

“I hope to get in 6 or so races before the work commitments take over. Then I will be back for the last part of the season. We ended the season with a disappointing engine issue at The Gobbler, and it wasn’t even an old engine. Working on getting that squared away”

From someone who covers the sport as a writer and photographer and fan, there is a whole lot that I enjoy about the Street Stocks. I like that you can see the different styles of cars that you see in the division. You can see that so many of them put a lot of creativity and ingenuity into their cars. And when you see something totally different, it’s very cool. A great example was the recent STSS Cajun Swing. There was a 1989 or so Ford Thunderbird out there racing.

I had never seen that particular model being raced, so I was glued to the screen watching how this car would do. The T-Bird finished top 5 one night and then took the checkered flag the next night. It was really great to see. I was surprised at how competitive that T-Bird was.

Another plus that I notice as I cover the sport is the great camaraderie that I see in the division. Whenever there are cars trying to go fast into a turn, there’s going to be some contact. But although tempers might get a little frayed at times, they really seem like a tight knit group of racers at the tracks I attend.

And the racing is most competitive. Last season, both Accord and OCFS had some of the best Street Stock racing I had ever seen.

The Accord, Bethel and OCFS Street Stock circuit has a great advocate in Jay Smalley. He cares a great deal about his division and the sport in general. Even when he takes his summer break from racing, he still keeps tuned as to what is going on.

I’m hoping that this great fellow not only has some of his own success on the track, but that some of the things he and the other Street Stock drivers have been working on pays off this season. These drivers want the class to not only survive, but thrive. And many of us fans do too.

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