The Interview Series picks back up today, with our own Justin MacDuff catching up with League Owner and competitor Al Smith Jr to get thoughts on the just finished Approval Series, the upcoming Pro Series and more!
Justin MacDuff: Al, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me this morning. First off, how are you today?
Al Smith Jr: I’m doing well. Thank you for asking.
JM: Well that’s good to hear. Okay, so let’s get down to business. Obviously, this has got to be a busy time of year for you and everyone at the Upstate Racing League. The Approval Series has just wrapped up, and the preparation for the Pro Series is well under way. Could you give us an update on the state of the URL at this time?
AS: I can in one word: busy. I am happy to say that we are just over 2 months away from the first green flag and we have all the races sponsored and just signed the track for the first ever all-star event. We are working hard on the trophies for this year and I should have a sample within the next couple of weeks to show people. They are unique and will be highly sought after.
JM: Sounds like there’s some exciting stuff to look forward to this Fall. So now, take us through the Approval Series from both a driver standpoint, and an owner standpoint.
AS: Well to be honest i was blown away with the car counts we had for the approval series. I feel we have a very talented bunch of Nein Shiez Autosport Rookie of the Year candidates for this season. The competition was fierce and the racing was very clean. I like the clean aspect from both the driver and owner perspectives.
JM: Now, how hard is it to balance being the League Owner, and also being a league competitor?
AS: Umm, great question. It is hard. There are some times where I won’t be as aggressive as i probably should in situations to try to keep peace and it usually backfires on me. I’d rather finish 5th and clean then wrecked out with angry people. But yeah its a fine balancing act. It’s like walking a tight rope that is constantly swaying.
JM: I would have to agree with that statement. It’s hard enough to keep people happy without having to be the face of the League! What are your realistic goals for the Pro Series?
AS: Haha not to falter like I did in the approval series! I folded quicker than a chair from Walmart. I hope to make the chase. I feel this is proably going to be the most competitive season yet for the URL.
JM: Haha, it happens to the best of us! What about from an ownership stand point? How many cars do you think you will see, roughly?
AS: Well for the first time in our history we are going to have select tracks that we are going to have to send people home because of the amount of the pit stalls or just to help clean up the races. I think we will have more cars than last year. I don’t want to be disappointed but i feel we will probably have around 30 cars a race to try to get into the field.
JM: Sounds like there is a lot to look forward to come Fall! One last topic I would like to hit on, how about sponsorship for the URL? Where is everything at there? We’ve seen some announcements over the last few weeks regarding some sponsor signings…
AS: We are SOLD OUT. That I am very proud of. The advertising team and I have hit our goal. My goal was to have everything sponsored by July 31st and we were a whole month ahead of schedule. I want to send a big thank you to all our sponsors. We couldn’t have the broadcast or do what I want to do to make this league one of the best, if not the best league in the service.
JM: That is fantastic to hear! Well Al, it sounds like the URL is in for the biggest and best Pro Series to date. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and best of luck to you this Fall!
AS: Thank you and good luck to all our competitors!