Kentucky Motor Speedway in Whitesville held its first event of the season in early June, without fans because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It was an odd evening, according to track manager Scott Slaton.
“We had 70 race cars and we raced all classes,” Slaton said, “but it was very, very different without fans in the stands — it was a weird feeling.”
Two weeks of rained-out events followed.
Now, Slaton is hoping state and CDC restrictions will loosen up soon.
“We’re capable of having 5,000 fans out here,” Slaton said, “and if we can just get to, say, 33% of that, we can roll on and everybody will be very happy.”
Slaton said the track has undergone a host of improvements, including renovations that would make fans more safe amid the pandemic.
“I know for at least the last 20 years we’ve had walk-through concessions, and now we’ve put up windows at our two concession stands and our ticket booths,” Slaton said. “The bleachers have been painted, we’ve marked out spots every six feet where fans can sit, and we have hand sanitizer all over the place.
“We have a new fence, new gates, new sponsorship signs, and we’ve painted the (track) wall yellow, inside and out.
“We’ve spent a lot of money to improve the facility and at the same time improve safety within the facility.”
KMS is scheduled to race an all-classes event on July 12 and the ever-popular popular late models are scheduled to come to town on July 25.
“We also plan to run Figure 8s every other week starting July 12,” Slaton said. “That’s also a very popular race.”
In addition, KMS plans to have ride-alongs for members of its Kid’s Club (free to sign up) featuring the Craftsman truck and Xfinity car of Tommy Fischer.
“We believe this is going to be a real hit with the kids,” Slaton said. “They’ll be able to ride in a real (NASCAR) race truck and a real race car.”
Moreover, Slaton is excited about the KMS Scrapper division, in which members of the general public race virtually any vehicle, without headlights, tail lights, side windows and mirrors.
New for this season, meanwhile, will be a Young Guns division for youths ages 12-16.
“You can’t have a driver’s license to compete in the Young Guns,” Slaton explained. “We’ll just put them on a short track and it will be a real race — this should be a whole lot of fun.”
KMS is a 3/8-mile short track. The track was built in 1960, as a 1/4-mile track, with an infield figure 8 crossover added in 1981.
Several area NASCAR greats, including Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield, and the Green brothers Jeff, David, and Mark, got their start in racing at the speedway.