Plover, WI- When Darrel and Shela Bassuener purchased Golden Sands Speedway in 1994, a seven-year-old Cody Smiley was watching his favorite racers compete each Friday night. As of Wednesday, Smiley now holds the keys to the historic third-mile.
Smiley, 29, completed the purchase of the facility that was on the market for the past five years. Although the Basseuner family had the facility for sale they continued to operate it until they struck a deal with Smiley.
“Watching these racers growing up, I’ve always had the passion for the sport,” Smiley said. “When I knew the track was for sale it worried me. I didn’t want the wrong person to get the race track and for it to not continue as it is.”
He commented the process took over six months.
The Bassuener family will continue to support Smiley during the time of transition and into the 2017 season. “They have been 100% on my side since the beginning,” Smiley said. “We had an open line of communication back and forth and they’re good people to work with. They’ve done amazing things for racing in Central Wisconsin and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity to purchase the track and work with them.”
Smiley and his brother Shane have been Super Late Model racers at the track over the past six years, but Cody Smiley decided it was time to step from behind the wheel and get active. “I finally made a decision in my life that it was time to help the sport,” he said. “I wanted to be a professional driver, and we all know how difficult that is. There is that old saying, ‘those who can’t do, teach.’ I guess that’s what I’m going to try to do; be on the track side instead of the driving side.”
Many racers have made the jump to the promoting side. However, most don’t do it at such a young age. Along with Smiley’s youth comes a fiery passion. He has every intention to build on the history of the facility and to continue to bridge the gap between racers and promoters.
“Coming from a racing standpoint it means the world to me to be a track owner because I know exactly what it takes to be a racer and what we’re looking for from the race track,” Smiley said. “I know that the track can help with what it takes to be a successful racer. So now being on the other side of the coin as a track owner, I know exactly what I have to do to get drivers to show up, keep them, grow divisions and make everyone happy.”
Among the goals for Smiley this season are to: keep improving the safety of the cars that race at Golden Sands, bring in regional touring series, create an enjoyable environment, and – perhaps most importantly – pack the grandstands.
“I’d love to see it packed – not for me, but for the drivers,” Smiley said. “I know it’s tough to get fans. I want the drivers to have fans and be successful. So I want that place packed every single night because, to me, having the drivers be successful is what I’m striving for. I know I’m not going to get rich doing this so I want people to come, watch some great racing and enjoy the show. Moving forward, I just want to keep building on that.”
This will be the 50th season of operation for Golden Sands. Smiley said he hopes to have a schedule some time in December or January and then host an orientation meeting shortly afterward.
For more information find Golden Sands Speedway on Facebook or visit www.gssraces.com