Dirt track racing is set to return to the state this weekend, and it's not a moment too soon for track promoters and staff members.
"What else do we do? We don't know what to do," said Mooney Starr, the owner/promoter at Batesville Motor Speedway in Locust Grove. "I mean, I don't know anything other than to smell alcohol [fumes] and have dirt flung in my eyes. It's all I know."
Racing in the state has been shut down since early March because of coronavirus concerns. Several of the state's racing facilities had hoped to reopen last weekend after restrictions were partially lifted by the state health department. However, heavy rain forced most to postpone their openings. Only Tri-State Speedway -- located just across the Oklahoma border from Fort Smith -- was able to race Sunday.
Little Rock's I-30 Speedway is set to open its 66th season Saturday, albeit at a later date than ever. Track promoter Tracey Clay said restrictions required of fans are manageable.
"We have to hold to 33% capacity," said Clay, whose family has owned and operated the quarter-mile oval at the Pulaski-Saline county line since 1987. "Obviously, there will be social distancing. Every other row in the stands will be marked for no sitting, and no more than 10 [people] can sit together as a family. Masks are not required, but they are highly recommended."
Clay said the Will McGary Memorial for the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series late models, originally slated for March 28, has been rescheduled for July 11. Others could be rescheduled as well, she said.
"If I can, I will. But we've just been working on getting going for this week," said Clay, who also said a midweek pay-per-event featuring sprint cars and late models is also in the works, possibly for July 1.
Starr had scheduled about one special event per month, but for those events already postponed he said, "What's gone is gone."
He said he has been contacted by some series in areas where restrictions have not been lifted that are looking for places to race. One of those, Starr said, is the Indiana-based All Start Circuit of Champions sprint car series, which is owned by three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who also races in the series.
"They've called me wanting to come down here and race," Starr said. "But it's like I told Tony, I've got to watch paying those big purses when I can only have a third of my crowd. But we're working on it."
Most of the state's dirt tracks plan to open their seasons this weekend, including Centerville Super Speedway; Crawford County Speedway in Van Buren; Crowley's Ridge Raceway in Paragould; Diamond Park Speedway in Murfreesboro; Old No. 1 Speedway in Harrisburg; Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis; and Texarkana 67 Speedway. Officials at North Central Arkansas Speedway in Flippin said they plan to open July 3.
As for drag-racing facilities in the state, Centerville Dragway will have a motorcycle special event tonight and regular racing on Saturday, while Prescott Raceway will host a Memphis Street Racer special event tonight and Saturday. George Ray's Wildcat Dragstrip in Paragould is scheduled to open its season Sunday.
Contact tracks or track websites for more information.
Sports on 05/29/2020
Print Headline: Racetracks across state to start engines