The Ohio Valley Speedway is a 3/8s mile track located off of Route 68 and Waverly Road, just south of Lubeck. If you’re local and like dirt track racing, chances are you’ve been here. Racing always seems to be competitive here. This year marks the 58th anniversary of the speedway and they’re celebrating by hosting their biggest show yet: the $10,000 to win Jim Dunn Memorial! The track was opened on September 6, 1958 by owner, Carl Balderson. The speedway is now owned by Wayne McPeek and Everett Vincent who have made many upgrades to the facility including new electrical systems, guard rails, and fencing. I asked track representative, Matt Amick, what he would say to a race fan to get them to choose The Valley for their weekend racing entertainment.
“Do you like three-wide racing action that leaves you on the edge of your seat every lap of the race? The Valley is a fast 3/8 mile with long straightaways and sharp corners which makes for excitement every lap,” he said.
You can check out The Valley’s schedule by visiting their website.
2. Legendary Hilltop Speedway
Located along the Ohio River in Marietta, Ohio, this track has been reopened by Lhan Weppler and crew after sitting idle for over two decades.
The track had been overgrown and the bleachers rotted out. “A great deal of work went into the track. Months worth of excavation work took place to clear the track of all vegetation, which included trees as tall as 6 foot high. Along with the track, the staff had to redo 600 grandstands, concession stands, electrical work and guardrail. It is still a work in progress today, as we just added 200 additional grandstand seats over the off season,” a representative of the speedway stated. He also said one of the hardest things they still have to deal with is spreading the word that the track has reopened.
When asked what is special about their particular speedway, A track representative responded with, “We believe that our track produces some of the most exciting racing across the region, but also, we’ve built the track back up with the community and families in mind and do strive to produce an environment where fans know that we appreciate their support and hope they can have an enjoyable experience and watch some exciting racing.”
Check out the racing schedule at Hilltop here.
3. Skyline Speedway
Skyline Speedway is located in the middle of farm land in Guysville, Athens County, Ohio. The track was first opened in 1965 and has been a staple for racing in the area for over 51 years.
The red-clay oval is one of the few tracks in the area that run the 410 Sprints each week, along with the Super Late Models, Modifieds, and Mini Wedges. The track is also home/host to the sanctioned bodies of Billy Jarrell’s OVSCA (Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association) and the AMRA Modifieds and Super Late Models.
Skyline also prides themselves on having one of the lowest admission prices in the area. Adult admission tickets are $10, kids 12 and under are free with an adult.
You can find Skyline’s schedule and race day information on their website.
4. Atomic Speedway (formerly known as KC Raceway)
Located in Waverly, Ohio and named for its close proximity to the new uranium enrichment plant in nearby Piketon, the 3/8s mile Atomic Speedway opened in 1953.
The track was open until the economy stiffened in 1984, but was quickly picked back up for the ’85 season thanks to the Karshner & Cooper families. That’s when the track became known as “KC Raceway”. The raceway changed hands a couple times and in 2002 was owned by Jimmy Nier who expanded the pits and remodeled the facilities. In 2009, the track switched hands again to Jeff and Vickie Schrader. During their ownership, the track hosted World Of Outlaw and All-Star Circuit of Champion events along with the Dirt Track World Championships (a Crown Jewel event) for 4 years starting in 2005.
The track sat idle until 2013 when, current owner, Brad McCown took the reins and switched the name back to the original “Atomic Speedway.” Since then, Atomic has become a popular destination for drivers and fans on race nights! The track hosts multiple stops from Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champion sprint car series, Lucas Oil Late Model series, Ohio Sprint Speedweek, and the new Dirt Late Model Speedweek. As of this year, it is also the home of the $50,000 to win Lucas Oil Late Model Buckeye Nationals.
McCown urges you to make the trip to Atomic to see what it’s all about. “Come to Atomic for a great night of action packed racing and enjoy a great meal and cold beverage at the Nations Fastest 3/8 Mile Dirt Track,” he said. (He’s not kidding about the food… It’s pretty amazing!)
Check out Atomic’s loaded race schedule here.
Not only are there a bunch of great dirt tracks in the area, but there are also a lot of talented drivers.
Chillicothe is home to National Sprint Car Hall Of Famer and one of the original World Of Outlaws, Danny Smith. Smith raced 1/4 midgets for a handful of years until he stepped into a sprint car in 1974 at age 17. If you’ve been to a sprint car race in the area, you’ve probably seen the #4 of Danny Smith.
Danny makes regular stops to many tracks in Ohio and W.Va. “Ohio valley racing is getting better every year. Billy Jarrell started the OVSCA about 6 years ago and got sprint cars into some tracks in West Virginia that probably wound have never booked a sprint show,” Danny said. “Brad McCown, at Atomic, has started a new series that adds some more races in the area. So south of Chillicothe, there will probably be around 25-30 sprint car dates this year.”
Smith is now in his 43rd year driving a sprint car and has won over 300 races at 109 different tracks in the United States and Australia. For 42 consecutive years, Danny has won at least one A-Main feature per year. He says his favorite local track is Atomic Speedway. “Atomic has been one of my favorite tracks for many years. The first time I went there was 1976 and we won. Been a favorite ever since. When I married my wife Stephanie and moved to Chillicothe that made it my home track.” Aside from Smith’s outstanding win column, 2015 holds one of the greatest accomplishments of his life: Being inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall Of Fame.
Local Modified favorite and AMRA Modified points champion, Kenny Johnson, has been racing for 32 years. The Mineral Wells native says that it’s really difficult to single one moment out to be his favorite, but that there’s one win at a local track that’ll always be special to him, “My very first late model feature win at Ohio Valley Speedway in 1993 is one I’ll never forget.”
“I feel the local dirt track scene is trying really hard. But the economy impacts both the tracks and the racers,” Johnson said. “It takes local businesses to advertise with the tracks and racers and then it takes the fans to support the tracks and those local businesses.”
When asked which local track he considers to be his favorite, Kenny couldn’t pick just one, “Any dirt track is a favorite of mine. Ohio Valley Speedway has been considered my home track, Legendary Hilltop Speedway is where I won my first heat race, and not so local, Atomic Speedway is my home away from home.”
17 year old, Tyler Evans, is in his 9th season of racing.
“I think that the local dirt track scene in the MOV is very competitive. I have traveled to many different states and raced with several different series, but what we have right here in the MOV is very good. It has come a long ways in the last 10 years. Many of the drivers in this area are also competitive on a national level.”
Anyone who is familiar with Tyler should be able to guess which track he picked as his favorite. “My favorite dirt track in the area would have to be Ohio Valley Speedway because i have had a lot of success there, including five wins and two track championships.”
Since starting his racing career in a Mini Wedge in 2008, Tyler says his biggest accomplishment of his career is when he won the Harvest 50 at Skyline Speedway in 2014. “It is one of the toughest modified races in our area. Many great drivers and legends have won that race in the past, so it was cool to get my name added to the list.”
With all of that said, it’s safe to say that the Mid-Ohio Valley has a pretty active and talented local dirt track racing scene. But these local tracks and local drivers can’t do what they do without your support! Support your local tracks by going to the races! And support your local businesses that donate to those tracks to help make the racing and winnings possible!
If you’re already a race fan, you know how exciting it can be. If you’ve never been to a race, pick one of these tracks, go to a race, and find out for yourself!
Photos by Brittany Fox, The Valley’s Facebook Page, The Hilltop’s Facebook Page, Jeff Cumptan, and Tyler Evans