Fitzsimmons looking forward to the challenge

Truro Raceway has a new GM in place as 2023 season approaches




SaltWire Network


BIBLE HILL - Hoping to duplicate the success he achieved as the general manager of Hanover Raceway in Hanover, Ontario, Steve Fitzsimmons has taken on the challenge of becoming Truro Raceway’s new general manager. “I’m up for it,” Fitzsimmons, who started on March 2, said of his new role. “There are a lot of things we want to improve on and just be a little better with, (such as) the wager menu, the broadcast, and some of the innovative marketing things we’re going to approach and do. That will catch the imagination of a lot of fans and, of course, the grandstand, once it’s ready, it’s going to be an extremely helpful part of that.” Fitzsimmons was at Hanover, his ‘hometown’ raceway, for the last three years. He talked about what helped him achieve success there and how he sees some of the same formula working in Truro. “There are about 20 different factors (attributed to the success) but one of them, certainly, was having a much improved broadcast, that caught the attention of people,” he said. “We looked at creating the broadcast as a three-hour TV show with betting. I have a broadcasting background, so I knew what I wanted the product to look like, and I feel the same way about Truro Raceways product. “The horses, drivers and the trainers, there's no issue with the product that way. It's really just about how it’s showcased. And, I think, with the wagering menu, we're going to make some changes there that's going to make it more competitive nationwide.” A broadcast background and one well steeped in harness racing which started with his dad trying his hand in the sport. “I was raised on a 75-acre farm that had a half mile racetrack on it,” Fitzsimmons said. “My dad was in a different business, but he was, I would call him, a part-time horseman on the weekends … that type of thing. He'd come home from work and train his one or two horses and they were, really, lower-end conditioned or claiming horses that he had. “And we were very close to the Henrys; Trevor Henry is, of course, a national driver. So he was just two minutes down the road from us and they certainly helped my dad because he had no harness racing background when he started. “He basically bought a horse at a sale and the horse, I think, taught him more about horse racing than he taught horse at that time,” Fitzsimmons said with a chuckle, adding he would help jog and train the horses as well and acted as the groomer at the track. “As it turned out, the same racetrack that I ended up being the GM at which was my home racetrack in Hanover,” he said. “So that was a neat experience to help my home racetrack grow and do much better. And this is an interesting challenge here in Truro. They've been struggling for a long time, but I think I see a lot of synergies in the problems they’ve had here with what Hanover had that I think I can fix. We're going to take this place onward and upward.” GRANDSTAND CONSTRUCTION Fitzsimmons said he expects the grandstand to be ready this season and, hopefully, “sooner than later.” He acknowledges it’s a problem in trying to create a positive ‘fan experience’ for those who want to take in the action in person at the track located off of Main Street in Bible Hill. “We definitely want fans back on site in big numbers, but we don’t want them to have the fan experience they have right now which is no food or drink, no real amenities,” he said. “But, certainly, we’re going to be ready when the grandstand is ready to go gun-blazing with our marketing plan.” He talked about a couple of projects he started at Hanover and having similar activities at the Truro Raceway to help boost the fan experience. “We had a Trevor Henry Day; he was the 10-time driving champion who drives at Mohawk (Raceway) now and is a popular top-five driver in the country,” he said. “We raised $12,000 for a charity locally that day while celebrating him. “And I was involved in starting the OLG Ontario Women's Driving Championship which we started a couple of years ago that turned into something five tracks in Ontario participated in last year. We raised over $50,000 for Harness the Hope, a breast cancer charity in Ontario. They also do something in P.E.I. as well. “That (the championship) also showcased the top female drivers in Ontario and gave them a platform they maybe wouldn't have had otherwise. So I was really pleased and proud to be a part of doing that; to give people some opportunities who deserve them but, maybe, were being overlooked.” The 2023 season at Truro Raceway is currently slated to begin on Sunday, May 7 and run through to Oct. 29. For more on the track, visit its website at