Hampton: “It won’t break me. I won’t let it break me. I’m going to give it a chance to run.”
Kelvin Hampton bought a race track to give kids an opportunity to race without ‘getting knocked off the track’ by the veteran drivers.
Kelvin Hampton turned his first laps around a dirt track located in Spring City, Tennessee. Since those laps around the 1/4-mile dirt track in the 1990’s, it’s changed names, been burnt to the ground, re-opened and again sat dormant.
Now, Hampton has turned around and purchased the speedway. He owns a construction business under the name Hampton Backhoe Service. During slow weeks, Hampton and his crew can be found at the speedway. They’re polishing all ends of the grounds.
The complex has been completely retrofitted. It was overgrown at the time of purchase. Now, a new wall, new fence, new scoring board, new grandstands and led lights surround the speedway.
2,000 bleachers from the now defunct Cleveland Speedway sit on the grounds. The scoreboard also surfaced from that track as well. Hampton worked a deal to purchase everything on the grounds of that track. In return, Hampton tore down the walls and make the land usable for a construction site.
Mountain View Raceway was set to re-open the gates in 2018. However, the track wasn’t quite ready and permits stalled some of the construction progress. In 2020, the track will open on a weekly basis.
Below, is an interview with the owner. He gave me a few minutes of his time while he and the crew were hard at work on a 100 degree day in Tennessee last fall.
What kind of person buys a race track?
“An idiot, Kelvin Hampton says with a laugh. “No, this was done to try to make things fair for everybody, kids especially. Kids don’t get a chance to learn to race because the sixty year old grown ups knock ’em off the track.”
“I’m not gone have that. We’re gonna let the kids race. You take a driver that’s drove for 60 years, in a beginners class — It’s the only one he can afford.”
“Which I understand that. But, he ain’t gone let a kid beat him. He’ll knock him off the track. He wants to win. And it makes him look bad when he don’t. So, kids never get a chance to race. The lower classes, like the Thunder class and that kinda stuff.”
“I think I’ll even have a kids only class. Were the kids get a 10-lap feature and a trophy before the feature Thunder class starts.”
That’s building and investing in the future.
“Well, it’s the only way you’re going to keep this going. I mean, if kids don’t race, you can forget it. It will be done. And it won’t take that long to do it. Us old people, it hurts to get out here and beat that wall down.”
“That’s the main reason I’ve done it. I’ve got a kid, he’s 19 now. He raced a few years in the Thunder class. They beat his car to death. It was just one mess after another. I said right then, ‘If I could buy me a track, I’d stop that.’ The track owners need to step up. They need to let the kids learn to race.”
“I’m thinking even in the Thunder class or the front wheel drive class — They can only win so many then they gotta move up. Then, if you wanted to race and you’ve never drove a car before, you would have a fair chance at winning it.”
“All the rules are the same for the car. All you gotta do is learn to drive it.”
Kelvin Hampton: Q&A with the owner of Mountain View Raceway
I would assume this project is more of a hobby? If so, what do you do for a living?
“It’s a hobby. I do construction. Water and sewer.”
Do you live in the area?
“No, I live in Athens. I’m about 30 minutes away.”
Did you ever race at all?
“Yeah, a few laps right here. Not very good. Well, I turned a few laps at I-75 but that didn’t work out.”
What year did you start racing here?
“Early 1990’s. About 30 years ago. It was a B hobby car. I wasn’t worth a damn.”
But you caught the bug regardless.
“If I would have had enough money to be able to… I would have been in bad shape. I worked every day, daylight til dark.”
“Made one lap and was tickled to get to go. Borrowed the trailer, the truck, the car and the whole deal. Didn’t have no tools. I was just young and wanting to try it.”
Have you spoken to the local tracks in the area?
“I’ve spoken to Wartburg Speedway. I don’t really have any reason to talk to I-75 Raceway. I’ve talked to the owner of Wartburg a little bit. He’s ok. We’re going to work it out.”
Now, because it’s a hobby — Like any business, it takes awhile to build an audience and the support to make it profitable. So, what if it’s losing money for the first couple months. It’s not going to break you? Are you ok with it losing money, I guess is what I’m asking.
“It’s losing money now. Every day, I spend money.”
“It won’t break me. I won’t let it break me. I’m going to give it a chance to run.”
“I’m not going to put up with people fighting and wrecking other people’s cars. They’ve worked their whole life to have a car. They don’t need to have it tore up.”
“I won’t allow it. So, if they work as hard on their cars as I do on this track, we’ll be fine,” Hampton concluded.
Mountain View Raceway was formerly known as Rhea County Raceway and Spring City Raceway.