Ohio Racing News
Thursday, June 21, 2012
by Jerry Wahl
Some times we just do not realize just how fortunate we are to have so many race tracks in our area, say a 90 minute drive or less from our residence. While some parts of the county don't even have one we have twelve active tracks which many times sure makes for a hard decision for us to decide where to go. Seven dirt and five asphalt to choose from.
If we decide to head west it is the dirt track outside of Liberty, Indiana formerly known as Whitewater Valley Speedway now known as Union County Speedway, a 3/8ths semi-banked dirt oval. The track held it first event in 1970.
Further west is Mt.Lawn Speedway just outside of New Castle, Indiana. One of the most unique tracks you will stumble upon as it was built around a baseball diamond giving it an egg shape. It is a flat 3/10 mile asphalt track who's history goes back to 1934. At the narrow part of the egg shape there is no retaining wall and it is not unusual to see cars fly out into the open grassy area when they enter the tight turn too fast.
The third Hoosier track west of us is undoubtedly one of the oldest in the country, the famous Winchester Speedway located on the outskirts of Winchester, Indiana. Built by Frank Funk in 1916, Winchester has hosted a variety of special events with the well known Winchester 400 near the end of the season a must for a lot of fans. The track is a high-banked asphalt oval, one of four such tracks operated by Funk with the others being Dayton Speedway, Fort Wayne Speedway, and Salem Speedway.
While still in Indiana, down in the south east corner of the state we have the legendary Lawrenceburg Speedway located at the Dearborn County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceburg that actually was a half-mile dirt oval that opened in 1910. In 2002 the facility was completely renovated with the old covered grandstand replaced with a state of the art covered stand, something you hardly find these days. The track at that time was also enlarged from the 1/4 mile to a high-banked 3/8ths mile.
Back in Ohio and heading north is a track we saw being built when we was quite young and now is one of the most highly recognized dirt tracks in the country. Sometimes referred to as the Big E, most fans certainly have heard of Eldora Speedway located just north of Rossburg, Ohio. Opened in 1954 by builder/promoter Earl Baltes as a 1/4 mile dirt track, Baltes continued to enlarge the track until he settled upon the present high-banked oval in 1958. Baltes always was thinking ahead, what he could do to draw more fans and cars and you never knew what zaney promotion he would come with next, like a runner wheeling a wheelbarrow with a person in it around the track with $500 going to the winner, marriage of the apes, and the event that everybody thought he was crazy for attempting, the one million dollar to the winner of the late model event but he proved it could be done. Baltes retired, well slowed down , and sold the track to Tony Stewart who has continued to make improvements on the facility. Baltes is a regular attendee, sitting in the VIP lounge grinning as the others now do the work.
Going up I-75 to mile marker 110 and going east we find Waynesfield Raceway Park, a quarter mile semi-banked dirt oval located just south of Waynesfield, Ohio. The owners Greg & Tami Shobe started with a 1/5 mile dirt kart track in 2000 which now sits idle and built the current track just south of the kart track. As their schedule states, "Dirt Track Racing's Best Kept Secret Is Now Out". Great track and great car count but struggling to attract fans.
On up the road from Waynesfield about twenty mile is Limaland Motorsports Park just west of Lima near the hamlet of Allentown. Opened in 1939 as a 1/3 mile dirt oval it was formerly known as Allentown Speedway and now is owned by the University of Northern Ohio. It was converted to a 1/4 mile high-banked dirt oval in 1967 and remains the same today. One of the top events there is the Annual Brad Doty Classic.
Back to asphalt racing and about 45 mile to the north-east of us and up state route 235 past Kiser lake we find another unique track known as Shady Bowl Speedway on Flowing Well Road just north of Rosewood, Ohio. Built in 1946 by the late Raymond Scherer who lost his life when a tractor flipped over on him while working on the facility. That track was a 3/10ths mile dirt oval located near the current pit area but only ran one year. Scherer moved the track to the current location, 1947, but this time he paved it and it remains that and is billed as the "World's Fastest 3/10 mile track". Don't know who claimed that fame for sure but it sounds good in advertising. Anyway, the track is unique in that turns one and two dip down a little and then drivers rise a little going down the backstretch and then turns three and four are the same, drop down a little and then rise for the frontstretch. Unusual is the fact a creek runs through the infield with the stream flowing under the turns.
Venturing over to the south-east section of our capitol city we find the Columbus Motor Speedway near Obetz, built by the late John Nuckles as a motorcycle 1/3 mile dirt track in 1947. Track was paved in 1957 and race cars replaced the cycles and remains the same today. A quarter midget track is also on the premise and a figure-8 track was added to the third mile oval in 2003. CMS is the only track in Ohio to remain all these years under one family's ownership.
Closer to home, about twenty-five mile and east on state route 35 to 1166 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Xenia, Ohio we find the Kil-Kare Raceway facility, better known to us as Kil-Kare Speedway. Built in 1951 by the Marshall brothers of Alpha who owned a Studebaker dealership as a 1/5 th mile dirt oval but only one event was held on the dirt track and it was then paved.
The fifth mile track still remains but later in 1991 had a figure-8 course added to it. In 1955 the present semi-banked third mile oval was opened. In 1959 a quarter-mile dragstrip was added to the facility at which time the then speedway pits that was located behind turns one and two was moved to the backstretch. Kil-Kare is definitely a multi-use facility as a quarter midget track was constructed not far from turn one. This happening after a quarter-midget track in Dayton was closed due to construction for other use of the land and the Kil-Kare owners offered to build a replacement track at their facility.
Traveling on east on state route 35 about 58 more miles to the Frankfort exit and turning south and just outside of the town on Little Creek Road is a dirt 1/5th mile high-banked track known as 35 Raceway Park. The track was originally located at exit 87 and route 35 which was visible from the highway until the property was sold. Promoter Tony Boetcher rebuilt the track or we should say relocated it to it's present location. Recently Boetcher ran a test race for sprint cars to test the fans reaction which was well received and reportedly will try a modified race on the small fifth mile track.
The last track within our 90 minute scope is a relatively new one, well in it's fifth year of operation and that is the quarter-mile semi-banked Moler Raceway Park located east of Cincinnati. Operated by promoters Kim and Kevin Moler, they had to overcome a string of legal battles with the opposition who did not want a race track in their area but the Moler's finally won out and now it is full steam ahead. Located on Harker-Waits Road south of Waynesfield the track has been attracting drivers from three states on a weekly basis and has been providing the fans with numerous special events. The facility also boasts a kart track.
Yes, as you can see we are fortunate, very fortunate to have a great selection of tracks to go too and why it is so hard to decide. Lucky us. Take a friend or friends to a track near you, let's do our part in helping keep them open or we may see the 12 tracks I mentioned dwindle.
Outta space, gotta go, catch ya at a track some where. Your comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.