West Virginia Senator Mark Maynard of Wayne County, a motorsports enthusiast, recognized the significant contribution the motorsport industry makes to both tourism and the local and state economies. He submitted a bill within the legislature requesting a WV Motorsports Committee be formed. In March 2021 West Virginia Governor Justice appointed five non-paid motorsport representatives from each corner of the state to form the West Virginia Motorsports Committee. The committee members are John Fekete of Hatfield McCoy Trail System; Tim Cotter with MX Motocross; Chris Pierce of 304 Speedway; Joseph Rush of the American Crate All Star Series; and Laura Bowman of Summit Point Motorsports Park. The Commissioner of Tourism and the Director of the West Virginia Development office shall serve on the committee, ex-officio.
The committee is tasked with promoting existing operating facilities and providing support to a variety of motorsports activities in West Virginia as venues of recreation and tourism. The first order of business is to identity current racing facilities that survived the shut down due to the Covid pandemic. There are 14 motorsports facilities in West Virginia which vary in size from 2-mile asphalt surface to 1/8-mile clay dirt surface and the “Gem of West Virginia”, the 700-mile Hatfield Mccoy trail. The motorsports industry includes all classifications of automobiles, trucks, go karts, ATVs and mx motocross motorcycles.
A survey is being formulated which will be presented to all the West Virginia motorsports facilities requesting such information relative to taxes paid to the state, percentage of out-of-state participants and spectators, number of employees both full time and part time, whether the facility is open seasonally or year-round. The information will be used for an Economic Impact study. Currently, the committee is speaking with West Virginia Tourism office to get a “Motorsports” category added on the West Virginia Tourism website where tracks can be listed for motorsports enthusiasts to add to the visitors’ trip itinerary.
“It is my belief that this has been a long-overlooked industry, with regard to both tourism and the economic contribution to both the local and state economies”, said Laura Bowman. “We ultimately would like our law makers to approve funds for much needed capital improvements”.
This industry is no longer the shade-tree mechanics with dirt under their fingernails working on Junkers. The technology associated with the vehicles and state of the art equipment, along with the price tag of keeping the machines in top competitive condition does not come cheap. The facilities must maintain safe conditions for the competitors and spectators alike. This includes large commercial machinery to smooth the dirt clay tracks and maintain grounds, safe bleachers and grandstands for spectators, necessary fencing, tire walls, asphalt replacement, lighting, the list goes on and on.
According to John Fekete of the Hatfield McCoy trail, “in 2020 we wrote 65,000 trail passes and this year in 2021 we’re targeted for 80,000, and 90% of those are from out of state”. Edwin Pardue, Director of Motorsports at Summit Point Raceway said, “we sponsored the Vintage Racing Group for it’s May, Jefferson 500 Race, this year which had almost 300 drivers representing 26 states and nearly 1,000 spectators”. Cody Watson made a significant investment in reopening the WV Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells, West Virginia which had nearly 1,500 in attendance for its reopening. Just to mention a few Covid recovery successes after being completely shut down as an entertainment venue in 2020. Recovery was slow but now with restrictions being eased the drivers, bikers, motorsports clubs and dedicated fans are all out in full force…..contributing in one way or another to our economy. These folks need parts, equipment, food, fuel, a place to stay, etc. When Tim Cotter of MX Motocross and his group organize the Yamaha’s GNCC, at Snowshoe Resort, Yamaha’s top off-road ATV and motorcycle racers along with other top riders and coaches in the industry show up. In September they organize the UCI World Cup, the eyes of mountain biking worldwide are on West Virginia, completely selling out every bed in the village and the surrounding areas far in advance.
So the next time you might be looking for some family fun, bring a picnic basket, ear protection and prepare to be entertained by some of the top drivers and bikers in the world….all right here in “Almost Heaven” West Virginia. Below are West Virginias Motorsports venues.
American Crate All Star Series (Promotions) | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beckley Motorsports Park, Elkin, WV | Email: email@example.com
Elkin Speedway, Elkins, WV | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hatfield-McCoy Trails, Man, WV Logan Co. | Email: email@example.com
I-77 Speedway, Ripley, WV | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio Valley Speedway, Parkersburg, WV | Email: email@example.com
ONA Speedway/Thomas Mays Racing, Cabell, co. | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Princeton Speedway, Princeton, WV | Email: email@example.com
Summit Point Motorsports Park, Summit Point, WV | Email: Motorsports@xatorcorp.com
304 Speedway, Princeton, WV | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomahawk MX, Hedgesville, WV | Email: email@example.com
WV Motor Speedway, Mineral Wells, WV | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, feel free to contact Laura Bowman by email email@example.com or call 304-728-5221.
*Main image courtesy of Derek Garcia.