Tri-County Speedway co-owner, Isaiah Day: “Dirt is on the rise!”
One closes it’s doors and two more pop up! On April 14th, Southern Alabama will be gifted with the grand opening of a brand new dirt track.
Tri-County Speedway is currently under construction. It will be a low banked 1/4 mile dirt oval. In just a few months the track is already nearing completion due to a bundle of construction workers and bulldozers.
The track is set to bring new way of thinking to the Alabama area. Replacing the high banks with low banks, it sure won’t be a motor track. In addition, the speedway owners have every intention of giving the late model drivers a place to race.
The complex is being built from the ground up with the fans in mind. The grounds will include a full sized dining room in turn 4 with windows to keep an eye on the racing surface while you stand by the concession stand. In addition, a sports pavilion will sit at the speedway with outdoor tv’s in the grand stands.
What made you want to build a dirt track?
“I’m a Late Model Racer, and despite about 15 cars locally most track are slacking off running them,” Isaiah Day told RacingNews.co.
Why did you choose this area specifically?
“Im from there is probably the biggest reason, we have tracks in the area, but they’re real dry and sandy type tracks. They tend to lock down. So when you can race Late Models locally, it’s a one groove deal with a lot of wrecks. I wanted something you can race on with room to race and avoid collisions as best as you can. Our straight aways are 95 foot wide and the turns are 105 foot wide.”
“Fans are finding other places to go over these older local tracks because they get tired of 1 groove racing and wrecks, I felt we had to do something to get that fan base back.”
I saw the group photo with the kids at the track. Can you explain how and what that photo was all about? I do see a trend where the kids are coming to the dirt tracks again. I’d go out on a limb and say that probably wasn’t the ‘cool’ thing to do 5 or so years ago. But, I think that’s changing really fast.
“They’re actually a good bunch. They go to Church with my wife and I and have had an interest in racing but no one to take them to the track or get them involved until now. I believe as the current generation of drivers and track or series officials we have an obligation to get kids involved. My take on getting them involved is getting them closer to the drivers, closer to the crews. Letting them come into the tower and tech shed letting them feel like they are involved.”
“Do more kid oriented things, let a 15 yo kid help weight cars inside the tech shed. Or let’s draw two random girls from the grand stands and let them be trophy girls just get them involved.”
That’s pretty neat right there. Did they work on the track at all in any way? Or did you just bring them out to check it out?
“They mostly play on their on their phones,” Day says with a laugh. “But they did take selfies.”
“A few of the older kids have been getting paid to paint and most of them want to drive packer vehicles and pack the track. It’s neat stuff that they are into, the best part is I’ve got a few of them wanting to build what we call “Bombers” it’s an all Stock class entry level deal.”
“So these teens may race a bomber now, but what will they race in the future? I’ve helped a couple of them find car bodies and motors. I hope they fall in love once they hit the track.”
What did you do before becoming a track owner? Is track promoter the new full-time job? Did you quit the other job or sell a business? Maybe it’s a hobby? More or less, where did the funding come from to build a new dirt track?
“I’m still working my day Job, I have a promoter. But I’m technically in the recycling business. We also own real estate here on the gulf coast and lease/rent some properties. My family has been in salvage and scrap for years. I’ll continue to run the scrap and recycling business.”
“I don’t know if the track is a hobby, I guess it’s a labor of love. More than one person has told me that I’m crazy. But if those who can don’t step up and offer their services to the sport who will?”
“The funding and construction costs are all being provided from my family and I personally. My father, Chuck is the biggest donor and has the most at stake in this deal. But he loves racing, he owns 4 Late Models and loves dirt track racing. He won’t watch NASCAR, he doesn’t watch any other sports. He either attends or live streams Dirt Track races. He’s been that way my whole life, his DVR is nothing but IMCA and Lucas Oil races.”
Care to detail how much it will cost or what the budget is? What was the biggest cost of constructing a new dirt track?
“The cost right now is almost to a half million. The biggest cost by far has been materials and labor. We’ve had 20 people a day working up there since December. On weekends there is a crew of 25 to 30.”
“Were probably doing too much, our next phase is going up now and it’s a 400 seat covered pit grand stand. Our plan for next year is to fully enclose and air condition it. Our pit concession is 100 x 50 dining area, with windows and tables to view the races while eating in the AC. Our tower and concessions for the grand stand are in one building, and both of them are really well built and easy to keep clean. We have two separate air conditioned bathrooms. The grand stands have the sports pavilion to check game scores and sit and grab a bite.”
“All in we will have about 750 in the place for its current configuration. Our ultimate goal is to attract the Lucas Oil guys and get a date on that tour. We have the Mississippi State Series super late Models on the docket twice this year. We want to bring the super Late Model racing back and let the fans see it.”
“But we don’t want to break the fan either, we’re only running 13 races this year. Right now our weekly show gets an adult in the grand stands for 10 bucks. I think we have to remember although we as promoters are in the business of entertainment, we can’t break the bank for the fans.”
What’s your first memory at a dirt track?
“My first memory at the dirt track was at Flomaton Speedway, I had to be 7 or so years old. I remember thinking I just wanted to be a racecar driver, I had to do that!”
Do you know how many late model races you’ve run? How many wins in a late model?
I’ve been racing late models for awhile, I took a hiatus and just took up driving again last year. I’ve prolly ran close to 150 races in late model if you tallied them up. I’ve won prolly 30 heat races and about 8 features and ran in the top 3 and 5 a bunch. I ain’t no ace, I just love driving late models.”
Are you mirroring the track construction of any other track? Like what things, if any, did you see at another track and say, ‘I’m going to do that at my track.’ It could be track shaping, the walls or anything else.
“If I am mirroring anything it would be places like Kokomo and Magnolia, I love the lower banking and wide racy style tracks like they have out in the Midwest. All our tracks this way are narrow and high banked. I think we just need a change of style from that.”
“My biggest influence on what I want our place to be definitely comes from Johnny Stokes at the Mag, he used to dress in a gorilla suit to prep the track at intermission and would send announcers to interview kids. That stuff works!”
“Also I have always admired how clean he keeps his place and it’s surface is always second to none. I love the layout of Whynot and I and the raciness of that place is incredible. I think those two are my biggest influences.”
Tri-County Speedway will house 2,500 people in their grand stand area. In addition, they will have a ‘bring you own seat’ section as well as a handicap section.
You can follow and learn more about the new dirt track via their Facebook page.
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