Fans of the Kansas Speedway are used to traveling great distances to support their favorite drivers, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on their favorite pastime. In fact, after a month of inactivity, the track announced a plan to reopen this summer.
The track had to close all racing activities to the public due to safety concerns, limiting the drivers’ career opportunities. Now, with the world changing its outlook on public gatherings, it’s time for the drivers to get back out there on the track. Although it will be a busy season for the drivers, their fans and other racers, it won’t be an easy road back to race glory.
The History Of The Kansas Speedway
The Kansas Speedway, located in Kansas City, Kansas, is one of the largest racetracks in the country. It first opened its doors in 1909 and has been witness to some of the greatest drivers in history. The 1.5-mile track is named after its founder, Arthur “Turk” Henry — a former driver who helped establish the track. Although Henry passed away in 1919, the track he created continues to thrive today.
In the decades since its inception, the track has hosted some of the greatest races in motorsport history. These races, combined with the presence of some of the greatest drivers of all time, helped make the track a mecca for motor enthusiasts.
In the 1960s, especially the early part of the decade, it was common for motor sports fans to travel to the race tracks to see their favorite drivers. Many tracks, including the Kansas Speedway, were known for having some of the most exciting races.
The early part of the decade witnessed the rise of another famous racing driver, Richard Petty, who would go on to have a legendary career. In fact, in 1963, he single-handedly won the NASCAR Grand National Championship. He is considered the “King Of Car Racing” for good reason.
In addition to Petty, the Kansas Speedway has seen the careers of many other great drivers flourish. Names like Junior Johnson, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, and many more have contributed to the success of the track.
The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Kansas Speedway
Like most other organizations, the Kansas Speedway encountered some setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization closed down its facilities to the public and halted all racing activities in March. The track’s president, Joe Garon, said the track would not be able to open its doors until June at the earliest.
The decision to close its doors was a difficult one for the track. In addition to the economic impacts, they also worried about the safety of their patrons and employees. Over a month later, as the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise, the track decided to make the announcement official and reopen their doors. The track’s general manager, Steve Turner, said they made the right decision and that fans should feel confident going to the track. He adds that all safety protocols will be strictly followed.
What To Expect This Summer
The last few months have been trying for the fans of the Kansas Speedway. With the cancellation of many sporting events and nightlife scenes, the drivers and crew members have had to find alternative ways to entertain themselves. Some of the more prominent racing leagues took it upon themselves to help the drivers earn some extra cash by holding online races and other competitions as part of the NASCAR All-Cash Program.
Although the pandemic was initially seen as a potential threat to the survival of the Kansas Speedway, the track’s officials believe fans will respond better to this format. They also believe this is a better use of their time than worrying about the competition. The track will launch its summer season this upcoming weekend and will feature a couple of big-ticket races. One of the more prominent events is the Brickyard Crossing At The Brickyard 400. The other is the Federated Automotive Group Championship (formerly the INDYCAR Championship).
Both of these events will be televised on NBC, and the last of those will be an opportunity for fans to see some of their favorite drivers on the track. The last two weeks of July will also see the return of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (now known as NASCAR). This will be the first race of the season, and the drivers’ and crew members’ enthusiasm to get back out there and compete is truly refreshing.
The Future Of The Kansas Speedway
The future of the Kansas Speedway is certainly bright, as it has been for many years. They have seen much growth over the past decade, and it is evident in the construction they have already undertaken. In fact, they have spent more than $300 million on updates and renovations since 2009. These include the addition of an infield family fun zone, VIP suites, a hospitality area, upgraded lighting, and more.
In 2022 they will celebrate their 110th anniversary, and many exciting developments are already taking place. Some of these include the construction of a new grandstand and additional wings on the existing one, as well as plans for a museum and hall of fame. The track also intends to add another layer of competition, which will be a major draw for fans. The future of the Kansas Speedway looks bright, and it will be interesting to see how many people they can draw to the track this summer.