By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid Speedway is alive and kicking as evidenced by the 150 to 200 people who showed up there Sunday afternoon.
The Keeping Enid Kicking car show was organized as a way to show potential racing sponsors there is interest in the races. Speedway supporters hope a new proposal to manage the speedway will be approved by the Garfield County Fairground Trust Authority and Enid will have auto racing again.
Terri Fletchall, one of the organizers of the event, said a number of the local drivers were there to show their support for the speedway. Many of the drivers at the Enid track come from out of town, and drivers usually spend a lot of money when they race.
“We haven’t had any races this season so far — there were some problems,” said Justin Bingham, who is interested in operating the speedway. However, he is ready to take over and get the races started again.
The event Sunday featured a number of cars, and Fletchall said more than 30 had signed up to attend. Entries included race cars, mud trucks, motorcycles, rock crawlers and hot rods. Several sprint cars also were among those on display. They all came for free, Fletchall said.
Other activities included a dunk tank, monster truck rides by Sudden Death, car bash motorcycle games and Enid Game Shack video game trailer. The Jake Bowers Band also performed.
Bingham, an Iraq war veteran, said Fairgrounds Manager Steve Barnes has been encouraging toward his proposal. If it is approved, Bingham wants to add two additional classes to the races to give spectators something new to see.
Much of the 2013 season already has passed, but Bingham said 2014 will be a new year. This would be his first time as a promoter, but he has the support of the Enid area drivers who want to keep racing in Enid.
“The track has been up and down, and I’m looking forward to seeing the track active again,” Bingham said.
He estimated about $40,000 would be needed to finish the remaining 2013 season, which would include racing from August through October. He doubted winter nationals would be held due to the shortened season. However, 2014 will be a different season, and Bingham estimated $137,000 would be needed for the entire season from March until October, including winter nationals in November.
If his contract is approved, Bingham said he may have races every other weekend. In 2014, the schedule would call for three weeks of racing, followed by one weekend off. He said the track must be active to support the races and fans need to see something new occasionally, like sprint and mini classes. There are utilities, rent and insurance to pay, plus drivers’ purses. Bingham indicated there is a savings from the track that can be used, and along with anticipated revenue from the track, that money can be used to pay drivers. However, he said those winnings need to be increased. There are promotion packages out around Enid, he said, and he hopes to pick up racing promoters.
“We will have a hard time doing driver payouts, but we will get some sponsors,” Bingham said.
A number of speedways have closed in the state, but Bingham said there is a lot of potential at Enid Speedway, which has a seating capacity of about 5,000.
“We will do more awareness next week and show people there is interest,” Bingham said.
People continued to arrive at the car show Sunday afternoon. Fletchall said local drivers go to Oklahoma City, Beaver, Meeker, Elk City and other tracks just to drive. They also spend a lot of money when they travel.
Behareh Pece said she is waiting for the speedway to open so she can drive her car. This will be her first season to drive. Her husband, Bobby Pece Jr., also drives a car and she has worked in the pit crew. Pece, of Oklahoma City, said she will race every week if the track opens. She has watched her husband race and has come to races at Enid for several years, and she decided she wanted to race.
“I got tired of watching him make dirt fly, and I wanted to do it,” she said.
Pece plans to race against anyone, men or women. She said there are a handful of women drivers. The car costs about $2,200 to build, minus the cost of the motor, Bobby Pece Jr. said.
Pece said racing is a family event, and they are hoping the races can start in July.
Fletchall was overwhelmed with the generosity of those who helped put on the promotion day Sunday. The Monster Truck gave rides to kids free all day. The Jake Bowers band played for free and everyone brought their cars for free. The video game trailer came for free, and BBQ Joint restaurant from Pond Creek also came free and charged regular prices for food, Fletchall said.