Let the flags fly: Racing returns to Kansas State Fairgrounds

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Racing is back at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson just months after the Kansas State Fair Board rescinded its decision to demolish the track.

Drivers say they’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase why this will be a staple in Hutchinson for years to come. An emphasis on showing the impact the track has on the community.

Phil Nightingale with Salt City Racing is one of the key voices in pushing to keep the dirt race track open.

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“This track’s been here for over 110 years. I just didn’t want to see the track go away; I love dirt track racing, I love racing of all kinds, and I just wanted to do my part to do what we can to help put this race track out there. We need to show this fair board they voted correctly to let us race, let’s get through this first year so we can get a multi-year contract and then look out for the things that we’ve got on our plate for the following years,” said Nightingale.

Nightingale will help oversee races at the track. He says it was nerve-racking getting to Friday’s opening night.

“A long process to get the board to understand — I understand racing here once a year doesn’t make sense to have this big facility sitting here; that’s why I came in with a once-a-month contract to race once a month,” said Nightingale.

Nightingale says they agreed with the fair board that one race a year was not going to cut it. They now have races scheduled monthly, beginning with five classes of cars racing on Friday.

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He hopes the attendance will prove they were right to keep the track standing.

“We’ve got the excitement we’ve got behind it, and everybody that wants to save this race track, I really do think it’s going to be fun all year long,” said Nightingale.

He says the stands here hold up to 9,500 people, and they’re hopeful they can pack them full.

Jeremy Huish has won sprint car titles at this track before. He says he hopes to continue the tradition on the half-mile stretch of dirt.

“It’s just a special facility for however many drivers have been here and won here; to be able to put my name on that board with them is pretty cool,” said Huish.

Hoping the checkered flags will fly for many years to come.

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