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Cocopah Speedway steps up, goes high tech with introduction of electronic scoring
As the story goes, when a fuse at then-Yuma Speedway would blow and the lights would go out, owner Frank Golden would jam a piece of copper pipe into the fuse box, the sparks would fly, the lights would come back on, and so would the show.
That was in the late 1960s.
Flash forward to Saturday night at what is now known as Cocopah Speedway. For the first time in the history of the track, now owned and operated by the Cocopah Indian Tribe, when the first race rolls out onto the racing surface, each car will be equipped with an electronic device called a transponder, and the task of keeping track of who is in first place, second place, third place, etc., will all be done electronically.
My, how times have changed.
“I talked to racers and fans who came to our two national shows in February and March, who didn't know we had a facility as nice as this one down here, and others who expected the worst before they got here,” said Greg Burgess, director of racing operations at Cocopah Speedway. “And when they left, they said they couldn't wait to come back.
“So the days of everyone thinking we are a dusty little track in the middle of the desert are over. We are committed to taking this race track to the next level, making this track one of the most talked-about facilities of its kind in the country, and introducing the use of transponders is just one of the steps we need to take along the way.
“We are very proud to be the first track in Arizona to offer electronic scoring on a regular basis. I expect others will follow as it is now more common than not across the United States.”
The new high-tech feature will be put to the test when the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series, Southwest Region winged cars take the track, along with the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series Street Stock Division cars. The first race is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The sprint cars and the stock cars will all be equipped with transponders. All other racing divisions in upcoming events will also be using transponders, said Burgess.
Along with solving the occasional scoring problem, inherent with human error, transponders will be a feature the fans in the grandstand will enjoy.
Burgess explained that fans will be able to keep up with live scoring, lap times and other information by downloading the Race Monitor app to their phone or other electronic device. And in the future, Burgess said, monitors will be positioned around the speedway that will also show fans live scoring.
“The racers and fans will love the amount of data that will now be available due to the new system. Lap times, average speeds and best laps within an event are just a few of the more popular features.”
Already in place is an online feature — www.cocopahlive.com — at the track that fans and racers can access, which displays race lineups and results.
And all of it is possible without having to use a piece of copper pipe as a fuse.