Cocopah Speedway’s Burgess has no problem leaving his umbrella home
Umbrellas are no longer on Greg Burgess’ must-have list of things to take to the race track.
No, Burgess has found that rain does not play a factor in racing events at Cocopah Speedway, a dramatic contrast to what life used to be like for Burgess when he was working at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash.
As a matter of fact, in the year Burgess has been on board as Cocopah Speedway’s director of operations, not one race on the Somerton oval has been washed out.
“It is so much relief as a promoter to not have weather worries. I cannot even describe the depression that sets in when you put in all of the work and expense for an event only to have it rain out on event day. It is really hard to take,” said Burgess this week as he marked his first anniversary at Cocopah Speedway, talked about the year that was and looked ahead to 2013.
“This year so far, my old home track has had four rainouts since April. Here we began racing in September of 2011 and it’s now mid-June and we’ve got in every event. I can’t begin to tell you how nice that is.”
He’s also adjusting to the heat and, being a Washington native, said that is one of the most-often questions he gets asked.
“My response is always the same: ‘I’m doing fine; I love it,’” he said. “I’ll take the heat over being cold any day! I have had no issues thus far and I’m looking forward to enjoying life here for many years to come.”
Since taking over operation of Cocopah Speedway, Burgess said he feels his biggest accomplishments to date are the two national shows the track hosted in February and March — the IMCA Modified Winter Nationals presented by Sun Graphics, and the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MavTV.
“I was very happy to see our staff rally together at these events and see both of them go off nearly flawless,” said Burgess. “With large events there are so many details and you want everything just right. I remember after our Modified Winter Nationals spending some time alone at the speedway and thinking, ‘Well, that’s going to be a tough one to match.’
“And just one month later we had our sprint car nationals. And to have a national touring series come in with a staff and racers that have seen hundreds of race tracks across the country, and to hear their compliments and how anxious they are to come back, well, that will make the most modest of promoters smile.
“I also cannot minimize the facility improvements that have been made. They are all part of a big picture, but to come in here and be able to have the events that we have had and on top of that make the improvements we have — now that is cool stuff. I have to thank the Cocopah Indian Tribe for not only the opportunity but for their confidence in me and their support of the speedway.”
Burgess recalled how a year ago, when he arrived in the middle of the night after a straight-through, 26-hour drive, he was so disappointed that it was too dark to see the track. But the next morning, “once I was able to view the facility I saw some immediate needs but I also saw a great foundation to build from. The basics were covered and the potential was immediately obvious.”
“Now I’m really looking forward to 2013. I have already done some preliminary work on the schedule. You will see more great Cocopah Series events, some great touring series and we will work hard to develop some signature events that will return year after year. Our signature events will be the ones known on a national scale and with the right plan and follow-through they soon will be the ones fans and racers will not want to miss.
“Overall, I see this track growing in all directions — events, facilities, sponsor opportunities. We have come a long, long way and everyone should feel great about it, but we should also not forget where we came from.
“If we are able to keep moving forward this can be one of the most talked about and respected speedways of this type in the nation. It won’t happen overnight but then anything good doesn’t. Cocopah Speedway can be a huge part of this community and should be.”