Connecticut father and son racing duo Ed and Tyler Dachenhausen weren’t really sure of their plans for the upcoming race season. Living just over an hour from about four different New England tracks, Ed Dachenhausen said the two had thoughts of traveling to different tracks throughout Connecticut and New York without really racing for points at any of them.
And then they found out that Bethel Motor Speedway was going NASCAR sanctioned this season. That changed everything.
"Now that NASCAR is coming to Bethel I think we’re going to make every attempt to run for the points championship, him and I again," Dachenhausen said by phone this week.
The Dachenhausens live just over 100 miles from Bethel Motor Speedway, a quarter-mile asphalt oval track located about 90 miles from New York City in White Lake, New York, near the original site of the Woodstock Music Festival. Bethel has been in operation since 1960, but this year it will be NASCAR sanctioned for the first time, racing modifieds as part of the Whelen All-American Series.
Track general manager George Van Arsdall and promoter Peter Reynolds will officially announce the move to NASCAR at the speedway’s banquet Saturday night.
Reynolds said the move to NASCAR will help with marketing, not only the track but for drivers as well. The move will allow Bethel, with sponsorship from Sonoco and Hoosier Tires, to provide drivers with NASCAR’s insurance, and they’ll be able to have larger purses for their races.
There’s a mix at Bethel of hobby drivers and those looking to move up in the racing world, but Van Arsdall said he thinks the move will benefit all levels of drivers.
"It’ll bring a lot more competition to the track and with the competition comes the fans," Van Arsdall said.
"As far as the new drivers, it gives them more clout and more marketability driving on a NASCAR-sanctioned track," Reynolds said. "We will be giving them the NASCAR packages to help attract sponsors. Obviously it’s the top sanctioning body in the country."
Bethel will race 23 NASCAR sanctioned races this summer, starting with opening night on April 27 and running through November 3.
Van Arsdall has been at Bethel in different capacities since 2003, and took over as general manager in 2018. He said the move to NASCAR is the biggest change he’s seen since he’s been at the track.
"We’re looking forward to definitely working with NASCAR to further the brand and our track at the same time," he said. "Last year was sort of a rebuilding year, and Peter and I certainly feel like we’ve done that.
"This year I think it’s definitely going to be a really big coming out year for Bethel."
The track has been a jumping-off point for many in the world of NASCAR, even before this year’s switch. NASCAR Cup Series drivers William Byron and Daniel Hemric have both won at Bethel in legends cars. ARCA Menards Series drivers Christian Eckes and Joe Graf Jr. also both got their starts there.
Dachenhausen hopes the move to NASCAR can help his son move up in the racing world as well. The elder Dachenhausen started racing at Bethel about six years ago, and got his son, now 17 years old, started about four years ago racing bandeleros before moving over to modifieds.
Tyler Dachenhausen will race alongside his dad for one more summer before heading off to school at the University of Northwestern Ohio in their motorsports program this fall. He finished second by one point in the asphalt modifieds at Bethel last year, while Ed Dachenhausen won the sportsman division.
The elder Dachenhausen won a regional championship at Chemung Speedrome in New York in the early 2000s.
"I haven’t been back to a NASCAR track since," Dachenhausen said. "So I was really excited about that, especially for my son because he’ll be in the premiere division. So it’ll be neat for him to go through the experience like I did.
"I’m excited for him. He’s still young. He’s got a lot going on… I’m really excited he’s finally getting into the NASCAR scene."
Committing to Bethel for the summer will also help the Dachenhausens race within their budget. The elder Dachenhausen said at this point in his career he’s content sticking with short tracks: "I like the short tracks because it seems like the money is a little less important. It’s more of a driver sport than the most money wins, with the bigger motors and the better components on the car. I like the nitty-gritty, tight racing."
But the younger Dachenhausen is just starting his career, and he wants to take it as far as he can.
While this will be a big year full of changes for all the drivers at Bethel, Dachenhausen hopes this is a big year for his family as well.
"I’d really, really like to back it up with both of us winning championships together as a father and son in the two highest divisions that Bethel has," he said. "That would be nice. That would be really cool.
"I’m really looking forward to watching my son race."