Tommy Franklin is many things, a family man, successful business owner, championship-winning Pro Mod racer, and now a racetrack owner. With the purchase of Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP), Franklin opened a new chapter in his racing life and started writing in it immediately. Franklin has already started some major upgrades to VMP and he plans on making it a top stop for drag racing in the United States.
When VMP went up for sale there were concerns within the racing community that the facility would cease operations totally and become something other than a race track. With more drag strips closing than opening these days, losing such a nice location like VMP would be a blow to the East Coast racing community.
Franklin, who owns part of the PDRA had no aspirations to be a track owner, but he didn’t want to see VMP disappear. “I never had a real desire to own a drag strip, but I love having a business that is so visible to the public. I grew up going to a racetrack by the name of Old Dominion Speedway, and I can tell you that I have so many memories of weekends I spent at the track, they will stick with me forever. I want to be able to carry on that tradition for my kids and everyone else as well with VMP,” Franklin says.
What led Franklin to the decision to purchase the track really isn’t clear to him, but it was based on making sure the track would continue to operate as a drag racing facility. With so much potential in one location, it made sense in the end for Franklin to purchase the track and use it as a key part of the PDRA.
“We have the vision of creating a staff between VMP and the PDRA that can really become a force in bringing Drag Racing into people’s lives. The PDRA is growing rapidly and this allows us to get more bodies under one roof for the organization. This will help guarantee the continued strong success that we have had so far in the first four years of business with the PDRA,” Franklin explains.
Before the ink was even dry on the purchase agreement of VMP Franklin and his team started making improvements to the track. A brand new all-concrete surface has been installed from the starting line to the quarter-mile mark. The track’s drainage was also addressed to help eliminate the water seeping issues the track had in the past. The new surface was pressed into service right away with the Loose Rocker Promotions St. Patrick’s Classic that attracted a healthy car count.
A new surface isn’t the only item on the agenda for Franklin as there’s a large number of other improvements on the docket for VMP.
“We plan to do a lot of clean up and painting of the tower, bathrooms, along with general beautification of the property. Also, hopefully before the start of the season or shortly thereafter we will have new racetrack lighting. This is a lot for the first year, but we really want to make a statement that we are here to make this place a great facility. In the future, we will continue to improve the 60 acres of flat ground and 35 acres of asphalt as well. There will are plans to begin refurbishing the tower suites for the drag strip. We also want to expand the Hot Rod Grill and add additional seating to the Truck/Tractor/Mud venue,” Franklin says.
On top of all of this Franklin was able to secure an NHRA national event after Englishtown ceased drag racing operations. “With the news of the Englishtown Event going away we promptly reached out to NHRA to see if there was an opportunity. It went very fast, but NHRA has been very helpful in the preparation so far and we are excited to make the 2018 NHRA National Event a huge success,” Franklin explains.
Drag racing is a massive part of Tommy Franklin and his family’s lives and the purchase of Virginia Motorsports Park proves this. As with anything related to racing, Franklin is bringing his drive to be a winner to track ownership and that will help make VMP one of the best tracks on the East Coast for racers and fans.