New Smoky Mountain ownership set to host SAS Series on Saturday
By admin | April 13, 2011
By Richard Allen
The Southern All Stars Series will pay their first of two scheduled visits to the Smoky Mountain Speedway this Saturday night. The touring dirt late model series race will pay $5,000 to the winner of the 50 lap event. Every starter will be guaranteed $300. Some of the top drivers from around East Tennessee and the region are expected to compete.
Over the winter three local businessmen assumed majority control of the historic track located in Maryville, Tennessee that has hosted a number of big events, including NASCAR in the 1960s. Larry Garner, Roger Sellers and Stanley Best purchased a controlling interest in the facility from previous sole owner and current minority partner Kevin Coffey. This will be the highest paying race since that ownership change and the new ownership says fans attending for the first time this year will be pleased with what they see.
“It’s been great,” Roger Sellers said in a recent interview. “Things are going our way. Everything is working out real well. Attendance has been great so far and we’ve had good car counts.
“We’re redoing the parking lots, we’re improving the rest rooms and making a number of other infrastructure improvements,” Sellers added. “And we’ve put over 400 truck loads of fresh clay on the track.”
Like many other tracks around the country, the Smoky Mountain Speedway has had its struggles of late. However, Sellers believes the new ownership team is uniquely qualified to return the track to profitability. “We’re determined to make this work,” he declared. “The four of us are working together and each of us brings an area of expertise to the table.
“Running a track like this is really just too much for a single person to take on,” Sellers added, speaking of Coffey’s courageous effort to keep the facility alive.
Hosting bigger touring series events such as the SAS Series has become critical to the survival of many dirt tracks. “Having races like this is going to be a big part of it,” Sellers said. “We try to run one touring series and one big NeSmith Crate race a month.”
And more, there are even bigger plans in the works. “We got in a little too late to have a Lucas Oil race this year but they’ve already told us we will have a place on their schedule next season,” Sellers announced.
But touring series events are only one part of a track’s success. Weekly shows make up the backbone of local racing. “We are off to a good start,” track co-owner Larry Garner reinforced. “We’re in the process of showing people we are going to race every week. We’ve had good car counts so far with our crate late model class and once we establish that we can be counted on to race each week and pay a good purse we believe our car counts will get even better.”
On Saturday night, the SAS Super Late Models will kick off the action with two laps of qualifying each in VP Racing Fuels Run For The Pole Time Trials. The top ten will be locked into the fifty-lap main event with the remainder of the twenty-four car starting field being set through Hoosier Tire South B-Mains including two series points provisionals (one based on 2010 and one based off of 2011 points). The series will utilize the Delaware Double File Re-Starts format.
Pit gates will open at 2:00pm on April 16th with tier parking and grandstands opening at 3:00pm. Adult grandstand admission will be $20; tier parking will be $25 with children between the ages of 6 and 12 admitted for $5 and children 5 and under will be admitted free. Adult pit passes will be $35 with all kids pit pass admitted for $15 each.