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Press Release Regarding Camp Barnes at DIS


US 13 Dragway

Press Release Regarding Camp Barnes at DIS

July 29, 2022

Press Release from Mr. Charles Cathell

In the early 1970’s, Mr. Melvin Joseph Sr., approached my father, Bill Cathell, and inquired if he would consider holding an event with all the proceeds going to a summer camp for children. After some discussion, a gentleman’s handshake confirmed a long-standing event that continued for 49 years at Delaware International Speedway (DIS) known as the Delaware International Speedway Annual Camp Barnes Benefit Race. The Camp Barnes Benefit Race actually began in 1951 at Georgetown Speedway before going to the Harrington Fairgrounds, then returning to Georgetown prior to starting at Delaware International Speedway in 1972. We were honored by this opportunity and continued over the years to have a lasting respect and friendship with the Joseph family. The 50th Anniversary Benefit to be held at DIS would have marked a 3rd generation Cathell family member to host this race. The events that have unfolded over the past weeks have left us in disbelief.

The annual meeting to discuss the DIS 50th Anniversary Camp Barnes Benefit Race was held in January 2022. I, along with Mr. Jeff Hudson, Mr. Keith Collins, Mr. Jimmy Hitchens, and my son, Mark, attended this meeting. During the meeting, questions surfaced regarding my potential retirement and what, if any, impact my retirement might have on the future of the Camp Barnes Race. I assured those in attendance that no matter what might occur, other than mother nature, the DIS 50th Annual Camp Barnes Race would be run on the date that we had agreed upon, October 1, 2022. Furthermore, I assured everyone that I would be there to assist in preparing the track and to ensure that all aspects of the event would flow seamlessly, as had been the case for the past 49 years. Following the meeting, we all shared a gentleman’s handshake and prepared for race season.

On April 25, 2022, I received a text message from Mr. Jeff Hudson inquiring if we had ever had fireworks at the track. I shared with him that yes, we had certainly hosted fireworks over the years following various race events. Mr. Hudson indicated that he had recently acquired a new cell phone and as such, had subsequently lost my son’s phone number. I provided to him my son’s cell phone number. As a result of this conversation, I was under the impression that he had not had any contact with my son since the January meeting. In addition, I was under the assumption that the race was on schedule to be hosted, as planned, by DIS.

Only July 1, 2022, Mr. Jeff Hudson sent a text message to my son, Mark, stating that the information provided on the DIS website had inaccurate times and no classes were listed for the race. Mark shared with Mr. Hudson that their new website had recently launched and due to a lack of correspondence from Mr. Hudson since the January meeting, he did not have any detailed information to post therefore, the calendar only stated the date of the event. Mr. Hudson asked him to remove the information temporarily and indicated that he would contact Mark to discuss further. To date, Mr. Hudson has never returned the call nor met with Mark to continue this dialouge.

On July 18, 2022, Mr. Jeff Hudson sent me a text message inquiring if I would be at home the following day (7/19) and if so, he would like to meet. I responded that I would be happy to meet, and we set a time. On July 19, 2022, Mr. Jeff Hudson, Mr. Keith Collins, Mr. Jimmy Hitchens, and I met. Mr. Hudson shared that he had met with the Camp Barnes Board of Directors and a vote had been taken to move the DIS 50th Anniversary Race to Georgetown Speedway for the current year. I was disappointed since I had never been invited to this meeting nor provided an opportunity to address any issues. I felt shocked and devastated thinking that we would not be able to host this milestone racing event at the DIS. The explanation that I was given was that Mr. Hudson had shared with the Board of Directors that the racers informed him that they would not support the race if it continued at Delaware International Speedway because “the track surface was not good enough to race on”. I asked if they could kindly provide me the names of some of the racers since I had great concerns regarding this statement and wanted to follow-up as we had concerns ourselves with the track surface and had made efforts to correct the problem. On July 6th, we purchased surface material to improve the conditions of the track and I shared that with the gentlemen at my home during this meeting. If I had been invited to the Board of Directors meeting as I have been in past years, I would have been given the opportunity to share this information and this would not have been an issue. The next race on July 15, the racers raved about the new surface. There were numerous drivers and fans that shared with us the improvements were appreciated and we had a great night of racing. Following this news, they left my home.

Following the July 19 meeting at my home, I spoke with the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police, Melissa Zebley, who is also the President of the Camp Barnes Board of Directors to learn more about what was discussed during the meeting since it involved me, my track, and the DIS 50th Anniversary Race. It only seemed appropriate that I would have been involved in the conversation regarding any potential changes in the venue for the legacy event. Superintendent Zebley indicated that she could not share any information about what was discussed; however, she would reach out to the Board members and communicate back to me. I requested a special Board meeting to address the fact that we had made the needed improvements and it would no longer be an issue for the racers. She shared that the Board members were very appreciative of all we had done over the years for the Camp. I was hopeful at this point that we would have a window of opportunity to address with the Board members the solutions to any concerns prior to any official statement being made about the change in venue. The announcement was officially made at the Georgetown Speedway on July 22. As of this date, I have not received any correspondence from her office.

At that point in time, we realized that every effort had been exhausted in holding the DIS 50th Anniversary Camp Barnes Benefit Race at our track. However, we think back to the 49th Annual event and knowing how important the number 49 was to Mr. Joseph, we are proud to know we were a part of celebrating that milestone at Delaware International Speedway. The camp had a phenomenal fundraising event last year as the Joseph family surprised the camp with a donation of $49,000 in honor of his love for the number 49. We were honored to be part of that night!

The numerous children that were able to attend the camp due to the commitment we put forth over those years made it worth every minute we spent on the event and continued to be dear to our hearts. We always appreciated the racing families, fans, sponsors, and employees who worked so hard to make it all successful each year. These are some of the reasons this news was so devastating to all of our family in not being able to finish out the DIS 50th Annual Camp Barnes Benefit Race and then allow a fresh new start for 2023 with the new venue. We will always wish the best for the benefit and all it provides for the underprivileged children in the surrounding areas. It is our hope that the event continues to thrive; however, we will never understand the way in which Mr. Hudson chose to allow the events to unfold for the Cathell family and the Delaware International Speedway.

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