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Wire Reports
May 2, 2011

Motor Racing - Beckley 1
Beckley Motor Sports Park action

Beckley Motorsports Park to open May 13...

May 1, 2011 Beckley Motorsports Park to open May 13... hopefully By Dan Stillwell Register-Herald Sports Writer The Register-Herald Sun May 01, 2011, 12:02 AM EDT

Mother Nature isn't being kind to Beckley Motorsports Park.

The 3/8th-mile oval dirt track had planned to open its 52nd season of racing Friday, but cold, rainy weather throughout mid-April caused the track operators to delay the opening first to May 6, and now to May 13.

A free practice Friday was also canceled.

"We've been kept to a standstill," track promoter Jim Williams said. "We've had a horribly wet spring. You get a day or two pretty, and here comes the rain again."

Chilly weather also played a part in the delay.

"You can open in April, but unless it's exceptionally warm, the crowd will be sparse," Williams said. "You can run later in the fall, and maybe, because winter is coming, people will suck it up.

"But if you start in spring and the nights are in the 50s, you won't have a crowd."

Despite the winter snows and the spring rains, the speedway was able to work on the area behind Turn 4. A big hole was filled with dirt, and the land was terraced, similar to what was done behind Turn 3 in the last offseason.

The work has created about 35 to 40 new parking spots, as well as additional seating.

"Hundreds of loads of dirt have gone in there and were compacted and terraced," Williams said. "It will be some pretty nice, choice seats."

The track will again feature AMRA Super Late Models, AMRA Modifieds, Fastrak Late Models, Pure Stocks, Kids Hornets and Mini-Wedges.

A new class will be the U-cars  a Hornet 4-cylinder class for adults.

"It's entry-level, and several of those are being built," Williams said. "For $1,200-$1,500, you can be on the track, racing."

The Super Late models are the traditional favorites at Beckley, but Williams doesn't expect he'll see many new drivers and cars.

"It's because of the expense," he said. "The Super Lates are very expensive to build and maintain. They have very expensive engines.

"We will have several new Crate Late Models and AMRA drivers."

The track will again host some special events, starting with the World of Outlaws Late Models Friday, May 27.

Two weeks later, Friday, June 11, famed NASCAR driver Ken Schrader will drive at Beckley as part of the Federated Auto Parts Racing series.

"Ken is a grassroots racer who happened to make it into the big time. He'll race his open-wheel Modified," Williams said. "I'm really excited about that."

There will be a special intermission between races when fans will be able to meet Schrader and get his autograph.

"He's very well-liked by the fans," he said. "I met with him last fall and showed him the track. I think it's pretty cool. It's been a long time since a NASCAR driver has been here and participated."

The Lucas Oil Series, with its top drivers and big payouts, returns July 1. Last year's winner, Ray Cook, of Brasstown, N.C., took home $10,000.

Williams also plans to bring back the winged sprints, but a date hasn't been nailed down. Their tall wings give the sprints greater downforce and cornering ability.

Last year, a sprint ran a lap in a track-record 11.6 seconds. The previous fastest time was 12.96 seconds by a Super Late Model car.

Fans will be glad to hear admission prices are the same as last season: $12 for general admission, $6 for kids and $30 for the pits.

Crowds have been generally good since Williams and track manager Ken Williams (no relation) began operating the facility two years ago.

A look at any national dirt track racing forum will show many good comments about Beckley.

Williams believes the racing is really good because of the facility's high-banking.

"A lot of tracks have basically gone flat, and I can understand why  the track prep is much easier," he said.

"Beckley just seems to be the perfect size. The cars don't run off from each other. You have that high-speed, super side-by-side racing, and a lot of that is because of the track layout itself."

The fun starts May 13... weather permitting.

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