New promotional era begins at Skyline Raceway Park

CORTLAND, N.Y. ­­– One era has ended and another begun at Skyline Raceway Park.

Former track champion Dean Catlin and his wife Donna have purchased the facility from Frank and Audrey Payne, who had operated the 3/8-mile clay oval for 28 years.

Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modifieds return to Saturday night programs beginning April 23. The IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing point season at Cortland runs through Turbo Blue championship night on Sept. 17.

The former Skyline Raceway has been IMCA sanctioned longer than any other track in New York and will crown a Modified champion for the 20th consecutive season in 2016.

“This division is a lot different than most of the other cars around here,” Catlin noted. “They run on those narrow Hoosier tires and there’s a lot of talent needed to hook them up. The guys who can do that are doing a whale of a job.”

Catlin raced at Skyline the third week after the Paynes began promoting. He was a weekly regular there for 15 years and won the local pure stock title in 1996.

“I’d always thought it would be cool to promote a race track. The crazy thing is,” he added with a laugh, “is that I was able to talk my wife into doing this.”

“I’m the fix-it guy and she’ll handle concessions and ticket sales, but we’re going to promote this track together,” Catlin said. “We’ve kept some of the staff, hired new employees and will also have volunteer help, most of them being people I met while I was racing here myself.”

After his automotive racing career ended, Catlin started a lawnmower racing organization that held several events at Skyline.

“We were walking through the pits, talking lawnmower stuff when Frank asked if we’d be interested in buying the track. We talked again in November, financing fell into place and we bought it in late January,” he said. “We’ll finish widening out turn three, we’ll get the equipment ready to roll and we’ll open the gates.”

Lawnmower races will be on the schedule several times this season at Cortland, raising money for charities that include the Make-A-Wish Foundation, volunteer fire departments and local cancer societies.

An open practice follows a car parts flea market at Skyline on April 16. Rain date for the Turbo Blue show is Sept. 24.

“Skyline has been the cornerstone of IMCA in the Eastern Region for two decades now,” IMCA Vice President of Operations Jim Stannard noted, “and we look forward to partnering with the Catlins for many seasons to come.”

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