Only weeks apart, two dirt tracks have pressed pause on the 2018 racing season
Tennessee National Raceway is a 1/3-mile slight banked clay oval located in Hohenwald, TN. Paducah International Raceway is a 3/8-mile clay oval.
150-miles apart, each of these tracks fired up for the 2018 racing season. Now, both of these tracks have shut down in recent weeks.
On May 12th, 2018 Tennessee National Raceway opened their grandstand to the public, free admission. The week after the free admission night, the Tennessee track announced they had shut down operations.
Meanwhile, at Paducah International Raceway, it was a similar story. The grandstands were packed as the track returned to life. On April 27, PIR brought in the national Lucas Oil ASCS division for the first time.
In May, the track offered truck load pricing of $20. Fans could fill the pickup full of friends and the group got in for just $20. In addition, the normal grandstand admission was only $5.
However, Paducah International Raceway suffered the same fate. Each of these tracks announced their cancelation/postponement of the 2018 racing season just 15 days apart.
“Tennessee National Raceway will NOT be racing this weekend. Please support Thunderhill Raceway,” the May 16th update read on their facebook page.
“At this time, the remainder of the 2018 racing season is currently on hold. Please give us a little time to get everything worked out. We will make an announcement as soon as possible with further updates,” the May 31st statement read from the PIR facebook page.
Each of these tracks were leased by the same man. Lessee Phil Colwell has elected to halt operations at both tracks.
Paducah International Raceway History
Bob Sargent bought PIR back in 2006 along with Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart and Ken Schrader. Initially, Sargent attempted to run the track himself. However, that turned out to be too tall of a task due to the distance between the dirt and home base.
“It was very difficult to operate a business so many hours away,” Sargent told WPSD.
Between 2014-2016, the Mason family became the lease holder on the track. The gates were open and the track was back up and running. However, when that lease expired the track was again set to shut down.
In 2017, Paducah International Raceway sat dormant.
“We looked for someone to lease the track, and it is for sale. The status is still unclear, but it is up in the air right now,” Sargent stated in the Summer of 2017.
Since that comment, Sargent was able to locate a lessee for 2018. However, after only 5 races the track has once again closed.
The DIRTcar UMP Summernationals has a date scheduled at PIR in 2018. The month long dirt late model tour was set to roll into Paducah, KY on June 27th.
At this time, it’s unclear if that date will remain on the schedule. Sargent would have to promote the event himself or find a new lessee between now and June.
Phil Colwell who held the lease for both tracks was unavailable for a comment at the time of publication.