Windy Hollow Raceway Park has been up and down at times since its opening in 1970. But a group of local-area racing enthusiasts is trying to get the drag strip and dirt track oval moving toward new heights.
The well-known racing location in southwest Daviess County has the dirt track oval and a drag racing strip.
A group including Jimmy Westerfield, Misty Westerfield, Randy Westerfield and Trevor Hutchins have been leasing the track from the family of Evelyn McCarty, the long-time owners.
"We had two shows at the drag strip last year," Jimmy said. "It hadn't been opened in nine or 10 years. It looks amazing now compared to what it looked like. We have leased the circle track, this will be our fourth year. This will be our second year on the drag strip."
The drag strip has taken a lot of work to get back in racing condition. It was one of the best-known abandoned tracks in the country an article in Dragzine magazine, according to Hutchins.
"A year ago they told us nobody will ever put their car down that track again, you'll never get anybody to put their car down that track again," said Sherrybeth Madewell, a racing promoter with MBD Motorsports-Promotions.
"That's what gave us the energy to do it," Hutchins said.
A crew led by Jimmy had to get trees and lots of overgrowth off the drag strip.
"We didn't come over here to mow, we came over here to bail hay," Jimmy said.
The initial clean up took six weeks.
"The first race after clean up, 160 cars showed up, and there were 2,000 in attendance," Madewell said. "People who show up here, they're supporters of this track, they want to see it succeed, they're hearts are invested in it. With that, we've got an advantage."
Randy started racing at Windy Hollow in the 1980s and Jimmy got racing on the track in the early 90s.
"We raced hard for a lot of years, raced open-wheel modifieds," Jimmy said. "This is my home track, that's half of the reason why we're putting this deal on. It was sitting here falling down and just driving by or whatever. It just kind of made you sick. We've made some pretty big gains on it, It's starting to come around."
The drag strip has come around enough to be hosting an event June 21-22 that could be the biggest in the history of the tracks there.
JJ Da Boss will be coming to Windy Hollow Dragway next weekend for what is called JJ's Arm Drop.
JJ Da Boss is a star of the television series Street Outlaws: Memphis. It has been on the Discovery Channel, and chronicles the family and friends of JJ who have been involved with street racing for years. He was the founder of the street racing scene named Spin City. His real name is Jonathan Day.
There will be a $10,000 to win prize for small tire and big tire divisions, and a $3,000 to win in the drag bike division.
There will also be a judged car show Saturday. General admission Friday is $20 and Saturday it will be $30. Kids 12 and under are admitted free.
The drag racing portion of the program is scheduled to be televised at a later date on the Discovery Channel, according to the leasing group.
"We're expecting anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 people," Madewell said. "It's gonna be a big deal. We've got some racers coming from Louisville, Ohio, South Carolina, Connecticut, New York. Some of these cats, they travel. It's all no prep, street racing, arm drop, old-school drag racing. To know they're bringing production crews, it's going to bring some attention to this track."
Around 15 local-area street racers will also be at JJ's Arm Drop.
Rain has been an enemy for the oval dirt track this spring, with several weekends of racing getting rained out. Normally, there are racing every other Sunday, with an average of 75 cars for a normal show or up to 100 for a larger show.
The cruiser class is the biggest right now at Windy Hollow, and it has quite a few newcomers to the sport.
"There's a young generation coming up, and most of them are within a 20-30 mile radius of Owensboro," Misty said. "We have a big event coming up at the dirt track on August 2."
That will be in conjunction with the Owensboro-Daviess County Motorsports Festival, which returns after an extended hiatus.
General admission to the track is $10 with kids 8-under free. Admission to pits is $30, per the Windy Hollow website, whspeedway.com.