By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The announcement came late Wednesday night when Paul Holtschlag and Bob Rhinberger announced their partnership, representing the fourth ownership group for the 37-year-old facility since 2007.
Holtschlag had been a co-owner since 2009 with Tony Rhinberger. Tony Rhinberger was bought out by Bob Rhinberger, his father. No sale price was disclosed.
In another major — and equally important — announcement, Holtschlag said the track’s late model division, its marquee series, will be sanctioned by United Midwestern Promoters (UMP), barring any unforeseen problems with unfinished paperwork in the coming weeks.
“Quincy has a great racing fan base and racers who love to race,” Holtschlag said. “We’re going to get this going in the right direction, and feel the UMP sanctioning of the late models is the way to go. The economy is tough out there right now, but we’re confident and we’re excited about this new direction for the late model class at Quincy Raceways.”
The average weekly late model car counts have dropped in each of the last five years, from a track-record 25 in 2006 to 15 last season.
Quincy Raceways sanctioned its modified class with UMP in 2009 and drew a weekly average of 25 cars, a record for a modified division at the track. The previous high had been 24 in the old “B” modified series in 2002.
The UMP late model sanctioning reverses a recent announcement made by Tony Rhinberger before he sold his half of the track operation that Quincy Raceways late models would be aligned with the Missouri-based United Late Model Association (ULMA), severing a 14-year sanctioning agreement with the International Motorsports Contest Association (IMCA), headquartered in Vinton, Iowa.
Holtschlag, Bob Rhinberger and other track officials met with late model drivers Tuesday night to let them know about the change in ownership and get their input on what sanctioning direction the track should take.
“The overwhelming majority, I would say 90 percent, was for going with UMP,” said Holtschlag, a local businessman who also owns several group homes in Missouri, Kutter’s Bar and Grill on the Quincy riverfont, a restaurant in southeastern Iowa and is developing the site at 18th and Broadway that once housed Prairie Farms Dairy properties.
UMP currently sanctions eight racing divisions with more than 100 tracks in 19 states and one Canadian province. UMP was created in 1984 by the late Bob Memmer, and is arguably best known for its annual Summernationals “Hell Tour” each June and July. The organization’s corporate headquarters are in Concord, N.C., but much of its dirt-track operations is housed in Grayville, Ill. There are 22 UMP tracks in Illinois.
Quincy will be the only UMP track in the region with Sunday night racing, which is expected to help draw larger late model fields. Shepp’s Speedway in Alexander, Ill., formerly raced on Sundays but is switching to Fridays.
Holtschlag said the overriding key to the .29-mile track’s success will be its racing surface, which was much improved in 2011 over 2010. Considerable offseason work was done a year ago at this time and it paid dividends, said Holtschlag, who coordinated much of that work himself.
“Word gets around, and I feel we made progress this past season,” he said. “I think most of the comments about the track last season were very positive.”
Quincy Raceways was family owned and operated for the first 32 years (1975-2007) of its existence. The late Albert Scott ran the track until selling it his son, Bob Scott, in 1993. The track was purchased by Tony Rhinberger and Mike Karhoff in January 2007. Rhinberger then bought out Karhoff and operated the facility by himself through 2008 until teaming Holtschlag in 2009.