An eight-year run of incredible generosity by a passionate race team owner from Texas is coming to a close, and thus the snowmobile oval racing mega-circuit called the TLR Cup is plotting a way forward without its big benefactor.
Friday, it was announced that Tommy Lipar would be ending his extended run of investing personally in the sport on such a substantial level. In social media posts, racers, race teams and fans expressed their thanks to Lipar for his longstanding support, and the folks that run the circuit – who also gave their heartfelt thanks for Lipar’s acts of charity – pledged to move forward.
Starting with the 2010-11 race season, the Houston-based home builder Lipar created the big dollar points series for snowmobile oval racing, essentially donating more than $125,000 of his own money annually to give racers and race teams some funds to chase while also attempting to raise the professionalism of the events overall.
The TLR Cup series Lipar created didn’t actually host any events – instead, it created a points series utilizing some of the most high profile events in oval sprint racing that already existed, making the races must-attend events for teams looking to chase the series, and the cash. The format usually included a $15,000 to $25,000 cash prize for the high-points champ at the end of the season, payouts for other top points earners, plus bonus money at the actual events.
Beyond that, Lipar required that host events work with his team to improve the professionalism at events, with formal driver introduction ceremonies, post-race podium presentations, champagne celebrations, added promotion and much more. Funds also helped the circuit have live webcast of events, further raising oval spring racing’s profile.
In an interview with Snow Goer in December of 2012, Lipar said his goal was to essentially throw in his own money for up to five years to get the series started, and then after five years he had hoped the circuit would have gained enough notoriety to attract other name sponsors and operate on its own. He actually went three years beyond that, but Friday it was announced that his financial support would now come to an end.
“I am going to continue to work to make the TLR Cup some other ‘cup’ – whether it’s the Amsoil Cup or the Woody’s Cup or whatever it might be,” Lipar said in that 2012 Snow Goer interview. “I am going to start working hard through this process, it will take time to get there but hopefully we can raise enough money for the big purse. The way I have to work is to provide seed money, help the tracks, give advice on trying to grow the spectators. That’s the only way it’s going to work – to grow the spectators. You’ve got to have a good show; if you do you can get a lot of spectators; if you have a lot of spectators you get more sponsorships; if you get more sponsorships you get more money for purses; which then you can put on an even better show. So it’s kind of a wheel that goes round and round. You’ve got to have somebody who pushes it and somebody who can start it up.”
Lipar explained how his passion for snowmobile racing was created when growing up in the Upper Midwest, and how he got re-engaged with the sport in 2008.
The vast majority of the support was focused on the Pro Champ 440 World Championship class, though some of Lipar’s money was also used to prop up other classes over the years, from Vintage to Outlaw to Pro Stock. The biggest purse was always given to the Pro Champ points winner. Past points champions of the TLR Cup include Gary Moyle (2011), PJ Wanderschied (2012), Malcolm Chartier (2013, 2014), Cardell Potter (2015), Matt Schulz (2016) and Gunnar Sterne (2017 and 2018).
In recent years, ISR President Todd Achterberg has run the circuit, with a big assist from Brett Richter. Achterberg is already working up plan for a successful 2018-19 season with at least five TLR Cup events – stay tuned for updates.
Below is today’s press release from the TLR Cup.
2018-19 Ice Oval Season Announcement
With eight successful TLR Cup Tour seasons under his belt, Tommy Lipar of Tommy Lipar Racing, has decided to step away from the sport of ice oval racing. Beginning in 2010, Mr. Lipar committed considerable time and resources in an effort to grow the sport of snowmobile racing. History will reveal his commitment as one of the significant events in snowmobile oval racing.
Simply stated – Thank You Mr. Lipar for creating an environment for ice oval racing to foster and grow.
In 2014, Mr. Lipar handed the administrative reins of the TLR Cup Tour over to Todd Achterberg. After spending more than 10 years in a managerial position at the Derby Track in Eagle River, Todd took his vast wealth of knowledge and has worked tirelessly to move the TLR Cup Tour forward.
In what will be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Tour, Achterberg stated, “Right now, we are looking at a series for the 2018-19 season with a minimum of five races. Without Tommy’s strong financial support behind us this year, the potential exists to scale back our travel and the number of races. As we continue to plan for outstanding racing action this season, we are also beginning the search for long term financial partners to keep the TLR Cup Tour viable for the next 5-7 years.” Tour Director Acterberg went on to say, “It can not be understated. What Tommy Lipar did for the sport we love is nothing short of miraculous. I think we all owe Tommy a huge Thank You. And there is no better way to show our gratitude than to grab the Tour, find some new sponsors and move it forward.”
Details of the 2018-19 TLR Cup Tour will be released this fall. Updates are readily available by following the Tours Facebook Page at TLR CUP TOUR.
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