By Matt Panure
During the long winter months a race fan may sit and reminisce about mid-western short track racing of the past. They may happen upon thoughts concerning the early days of the Mid-American Stock Car Series and the starter who often would hitch a ride to the flag stand from one of the competitors who was about to race under his supervision. That starter was Doug Strasburg who is now the co-owner of the Mid-American Stock Car Series along with his wife Julie. From 1994 to 1998 Doug served under many titles for the series ranging from starter, to technical inspector, and even competition director.
The Strasburgs had a hard time leaving the series after the 1998 season and even made a return in 2002. “We were very close to the series and the teams,” stated Doug. Yet the Strasburgs needed to let the series go as Julie explained, “The situation was not right for us at the time.” Reluctantly the Strasburgs parted ways with the series, “you have heard the cliché ‘if you love something you have to set it free’ and that is the way that we felt.”
However the tragic passing of series founder and owner Gary Vercauteran would reunite the Strasburgs and the Mid-American Series. The Strasburgs have known through their history with Vercauteran how important the series was to him and how hard he worked to make the Mid-American Series what it is today. “Gary gave birth to the dream and its our desire to take it to the limit,” Doug explained.
So what is next for the Mid-American Series? “We want to bring it back to the roots and let it grow,” said Doug. The Strasburgs plan to do this by making the schedule more friendly to the competitor who is racing out of his or her own pocket. With most competitors of the Mid-American Series from Wisconsin or Illinois, the 2006 travel schedule is indeed team friendly as the series will not stray from either state. Doug realizes that the schedule for 2006 is a good starting point, “We want to let it grow naturally, we’re not out to set records as far as the number of tracks or states that we are in. On the other hand we would love to see it grow and spread.”
The Strasburgs hope that this team friendly schedule helps increase car counts at Mid-American events. Car counts during the 2005 season were down in comparison to earlier years. However, as Julie explained, the schedule is not the lone factor in pushing for higher car counts, “In being able to (increase counts) we are first enforcing (the rules).” The Strasburgs hope that enforcing the rules and having higher car counts will lead to good competition for the series and ultimately a good time for the fans who attend Mid-American events in 2006.
The Strasburg era of the Mid-American series will begin on April 1st at the Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois. “We’re anxious to see (what happens at Rockford). The enthusiasm has been overwhelming on the phone and through emails,” stated Doug. The Rockford Speedway was quick to give its support to the new owners of the Mid-American Stock Car Series. "We are excited to see where Doug and Julie (Stasburg) will take this series in 2006 and beyond," stated Rockford Speedway General Manager Gregg McKarns. "Having worked with both of them in the past during the early years of Mid-American's existence, I am confident they will continue to put the close competition and top caliber drivers on the track.” The Mid-American Series will qualify and run heat races on Saturday, April 1st and will run a 50 lap feature on Sunday, April 2nd.