Gundaker on track prep / construction of the Gateway Dirt show

Kevin Gundaker explains the goals of the wider 2017 layout; 50 truckloads more of dirt

The 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals has several tweaks to the track layout in comparison to 2016. It’s slightly wider, the banking is a bit different and there’s a berm. This year, they had more dirt to work with and more time to work with. Both of those things allowed for a bit more creativity in the track layout.

Kevin Gundaker owns and operates Tri-City Speedway. That Pontoon Beach, IL race track sits less than 20 minutes from The Dome at Americas Center. Gateway Dirt Nationals promoter Cody Sommer selected Kevin to head the track prep and configuration side of the event, in both 2016 and 2017.

I spoke with Kevin Gundaker about the minor changes to this years layout.

What did you learn from last year?

“We had a game plan this year,” Kevin Gundaker told “Last year, we didn’t have notes. We opened the building and just went at it.”

“This year, at least we had a direction of where we wanted to go with it and how we wanted to put things together. It made it a lot easier.”

2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals Layout 2544
2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals Layout

What about the track prep itself?

“Well, last year we didn’t know anything about no sun, no wind, no element, no mother nature. Now, we know what kinda water we can put on. How much it’s going to dry in a certain amount of time.”

“Last year, we were scared. You could make it too wet, too quick and not be able to get it back. With no sun, no wind it creates a whole different element on track prep and how you do it.”

What’s your idea with the changes in turn 1 specifically?

“We were able to move both straight-aways out another 10 feet, so it won’t be as tight. The dirt laid so well this time. I’m just very happy with the way the race track came out this year.”

From above, turn 1 looks sort of diamond-ish, for lack of a better term. So, what’s the goal there?

“It’s not really a diamond,” Kevin Gundaker clears that up.

“We were able to take into account that we had a little bit more area. We’re trying to make the racing better, off the corners. We added the extra 10 feet so it won’t be so tight off. So, you won’t be pinched off turn 4 and turn 2.”

2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals berm 2311
2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals berm

There’s now a berm on the inside. That looks a little different.

“Yeah, we had more dirt this year. We were able to play a little bit more with our dirt. We were able to leave a little bit taller area there. It won’t go all the way to the concrete.”

“We felt it might help to keep them off the tires and moving the tires around. We’re hoping that works for us.”

Last year, the track had several tires all the way around the inside of the corners. Those tires weren’t bolted to anything. So, over the course of a long run, drivers would pinch a little more and a little more. Until the tires were 10 feet from where they started.

In addition, it caused brief delays. Anytime someone smashed into a tire a wrecker would have to come onto the track, just to push the tire barrier back into place. This year, it sounds like they’ve found a solution for that.

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Kevin Gundaker at the 2016 Gateway Dirt Nationals

Why do you have more dirt this year?

“We were able to get more dirt this year. We actually got about 50 truckloads more, about 1000 more yards.”

“We wanted it last year. We didn’t really know how much we really needed. We kept going and going and going until it came kinda crunch time. We knew we needed to add more this year, so we did it immediately.”

Ok, so you might have added it last year if you had more time?

“Yeah, if we had a little more time.”


Related: Dirt sprint car test at the 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals (video)

Related: St. Louis wasn’t the first location choice for the Gateway Dirt Nationals

Related: Cody Sommer explains tweaks to 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals track layout

Related: Cody Sommer details the first night of the Gateway Dirt Nationals

Related: Dirt racing is a growing threat to NASCAR

Related: Cody Sommer talks about the Gateway Dirt Nationals purse

2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals

The 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals will be hosted at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The races will be run on December 14th-16th, 2017. Each night is a good one, take your pick.

Ticket are available via


Kevin GundakerGateway Dirt Nationals | Shane Walters