|One of the newest additions to Seekonk Speedway is its VIP pavilion that’s sporting the latest in LED lighting technology. Photo courtesy Seekonk Speedway|
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|Seekonk Speedway saves money and energy while providing better lighting with an LED high mast floodlight flanked by two LED shoebox area lights above the oval track.|
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Having survived 75 New England winters, venerable and weather-affected Seekonk Speedway is used to being dark for much of the year. But when COVID-19 hit the country like a head-on crash into a retaining wall, the track in southeastern Massachusetts was forced to wave the red flag on most of its diamond jubilee season. Only 10 races were held in 2020, and none with fans in the stands per state guidelines. That’s about as dark as dark gets.
Hoping to lighten things up by turning back time, Seekonk Speedway celebrated its 75th anniversary belatedly in 2021 with a relatively full schedule. The 2022 season that is revving up to begin May 1 promises to be even brighter, and not just because the 10,000-seat raceway has a record number of events on tap.
“Seekonk Speedway is going through what I’m calling an ‘illumination renovation,’ replacing dated electrical infrastructure with modern LED lighting that comes with many benefits,” said General Manager David Alburn. “Over the past few years we’ve been implementing energy- and cost-saving solutions from U.S.-based LEDtronics that not only improve safety and experience for racers and spectators but enable us to explore new revenue streams.”
One project was switching out lumen-depreciating 400-watt metal halide fixtures with longer-lasting 138-watt LED lights in the large pit area, a move that has garnered rave reviews from the professional car drivers, according to Alburn.
“Racers like the more consistent lighting when they go through the tunnel to make a pit stop,” Alburn said. “No longer do they go from light to dark to light again. This adds a level of safety to our evening races, especially our Saturday night NASCAR events.”
Replacing low-tech lighting with LED technology also led to the creation of a hospitality pavilion where upgraded patrons enjoy VIP treatment that includes catered food, dedicated restrooms and prime, roof-covered tiered viewing of the front and back stretches.
Installing a combination of highbay, shoebox lights and canopy lights from LEDtronics has enabled the speedway to host such non-racing events as the Sunday Seekonk Flea Market that resumes on March 27, and a haunted house that is expected to return right before Halloween.
“Converting 90 percent of our lighting to LED means we’re no longer maxing out our electrical system,” Alburn said. “Lowering electricity usage and costs gives us the ability to not rely on our core product of racing. Diversification contributes to Seekonk Speedway surviving.”
Keeping Massachusetts’ last remaining registered racetrack afloat is something very personal to Alburn. Not only has he worked at the track for 50 years – since the age of 8 – but his late grandfather, Anthony Venditti, built the oval track on the family’s poultry farm. From feed to speed, one might say.
“Projects that refurbish Seekonk Speedway are critical to the legacies of my grandfather’s dream and New England motor sports in general,” Alburn said. “Fifty race tracks have come and gone in Massachusetts since my grandfather opened this place up, and when Whip City in Westfield closed in 2011, that left Seekonk Speedway as the state’s only NASCAR-sanctioned track.”
Seekonk actually holds the distinction of being the longest continually family-operated race track in the United States, a factoid that’s not lost on California-based LEDtronics®.
“One of our specialties is making old places younger through an LED retrofit, and we couldn’t be prouder than to help bring state-of-the-art lighting to storied Seekonk Speedway,” said Pace Associates’ Ron Dugas, the LEDtronics representative on the project. “Common with legacy structures, we were required to proceed in a more measured approach over time, and even under constraints of two modest budgets – available energy and investment capital – Seekonk is in better tech shape for the present and future.”
— By David Dickstein br>
Originally posted in Patch.com, Seekonk-Swansea, MA, March 2, 2022
Photos courtesy Seekonk Speedway