By admin | June 13, 2011
By Richard Allen
On May 10th of this year the owners of the Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tennessee announced that the historic facility was being shut down temporarily. This Saturday night(June 18th) the track will resume operations in what may be the most important event ever held at the 4/10 mile dirt track as the facility’s very existence hangs in the balance.
“One race will not turn things around completely, but it will make a difference in the future of this track,” said race promoter Chris Corum.
Corum was brought in to conduct this upcoming Southern All Stars dirt late model race after the promoter’s departure from the nearby 411 Motor Speedway where he had a successful three year run as director of operations for that facility. “I’m excited about this,” he declared. “It’s a racetrack that’s struggled for the past few years but there are things that can be done here to get it headed in the right direction and having a big race like this is a good place to start.”
The SAS series has already made one visit to the east Tennessee speedway back in April. That race was won by Newport’s Jimmy Owens, who set a new track record in qualifying for that race with a blistering time of 15.187 seconds.
This super late model battle will be a 50 lap affair that will pay $5,000 to the winner. Also, there will be a $1,000 to win 25 lap crate late model race as well as modified street and pure mini races paying $500 each to the victors.
“We’re running the crate race as an unsanctioned event,” Corum explained. “We’ll let the drivers run their tires from both Fastrak and NeSmith so they won’t have to buy all new tires to do this one race.
“That should really open it up and as a matter of fact we’ve already heard from some guys that normally run at Bulls Gap who are going to come run our race since that track isn’t racing on Saturday,” Corum added.
After sitting for over a month Corum has no concerns about the track’s condition coming into this weekend. “They’re actually working on it right now,” he said during a telephone interview on Monday. “You wouldn’t believe what good shape it’s in after sitting for a month.”
Track co-owner Larry Garner is doing the preparation on the clay surface. Garner owns Blount Excavating, which is one of the largest earth moving companies in east Tennessee.
In a discussion just prior to the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race at the Cleveland(TN) Speedway earlier this month Garner was optimistic about the upcoming race. “We’re getting a lot of good feedback from drivers and fans,” he said. “I believe this thing is going to do well. Chris has been a really big help.”
Throughout its rich history the Smoky Mountain Speedway has held some big races from NASCAR in the 1960s to major dirt events in the present day. However, there is no denying that Saturday night’s Southern All Stars show will go a long way in determining just how many more races the facility will host.
“I’m honored to have been asked by these guys to help out with an event of this magnitude,” Corum said. “I believe the fans are going to see a great race.”
Grandstand admission is $15 with kids under 6 free. Gates open at 5:00pm with racing set to begin at 7:00.