Something we never want to hear about the in dirt-track, sprint car racing industry is that a race track is closing.
We rarely see new tracks opening anymore, so we definitely don’t want to lose the racing facilities that we already have. At the end of this year, we appear to be losing three long-established dirt tracks that have run major sprint car events for many years.
The three tracks on the block are I-80 Speedway in Greenwood Neb., I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., and Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville Pa.
I-30 started out as Benton Speed Bowl in 1959, before changing its name to I-30 Speedway during the 1980s. The track is a high-banked, quarter-mile located along Interstate 30. The track has been operating for 66 years and running sprint cars there on a regular basis.
This year marked the 35th — and final — running of the historic Short Track Nationals.
The American Sprint Car Series has been a huge part of the speedway and the World of Outlaws have also run shows there. The track is being sold to Copart, a company that deals in selling and auctioning used cars and parts. It appears the track will just become a large storage facility.
Nebraska’s I-80 Speedway was built in 1994.The track is celebrating its 29th year of operation this year. The four-tenths-mile track was also known as Nebraska Raceway Park for a short time, before being changed back to I-80 Speedway in 2005.
The track has hosted most of the touring series including ASCS and the World of Outlaws. The World of Outlaws were scheduled to appear at the track for its final race in October.
Copart has a storage facility directly across the road from the track.
Grandview Speedway opened for the first time in 1963. The track is a one-third mile, high-banked clay oval. The Pennsylvania small-block modifieds are the featured Saturday-night attraction.
After most of the other Pennsylvania modified tracks were closed, Grandview became the hot spot for Saturday night racing. Sprint cars have been running at Grandview Speedway during Bob Miller’s special Thunder On The Hill shows since 1990.
For 32 years the Thunder shows have been hosted there and now I wonder if they will move to a different track.
Many different open-wheel series have run there, including the World of Outlaws, USAC, All Stars, URC and SCRA. Glenn Fitzcharles, Fred Rahmer and Dave Kelly all launched their racing careers at the track in modifieds before switching to sprint cars. Copart is the company interested in buying Grandview, too.
I’ve attended many sprint car shows at Grandview Speedway including this year’s PA Speedweek event in front of a tremendous crowd. I have also been to a few shows at I-80 Speedway when we did SCN Radio broadcasts. Sad to say though I have never attended a show at I-30 Speedway. With it closing, I will never get that chance.
The I-30 Speedway sale is completed. The other two tracks haven’t officially been sold yet, details are in the works. Hopefully, this auction company doesn’t keep buying dirt tracks.
With today’s economy and the struggles of promoting a race track, a big check probably looks pretty good to the track owner instead of all of the headaches and bills of running a race track.