Paducah International Raceway
Water-covered Paducah postpones Lucas Oil race
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
With western Kentucky besieged by record-setting rainfall and flooding, Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway postponed Saturday's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, and track officials aren't sure when the 3/8-mile oval will return to action.
High waters have completely covered the track's walls, said track co-owner Bob Sargent, and area flooding prevents vehicles from navigating flooded roads around the facility.
"You can't get to the track right now," Sargent said. "It just like a lake. You can barely tell it's a racetrack."
The $10,000-to-win Lucas Oil event was rescheduled for Thursday, Sept. 22, giving the series three straight nights of action including the Sept. 23-24 Jackson 100 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway.
"Our hearts go out to the people of Paducah. This is just catastrophic," series director Ritchie Lewis said. "Right now these people need everyone's help and compassion."
Paducah also canceled a scheduled May 6 special for UMP DIRTcar Late Models and Sargent isn't sure when weekly Friday night racing will resume.
"It's just devastating," Sargent said of the region that saw Ohio River flood stages approach record levels set in 1937. "We don't even know when it's going to start going back down yet."
"There's houses flooded, there's National Guard" assisting residents and other emergency measures being taken, Sargent said. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear visited the region for the second time on Tuesday, meeting with people forced to leave their homes.
As far as the racetrack, Sargent is unsure what type of damage might be left behind when floodwaters recede. Fortunately, the patch of land where the frontstretch grandstands and most track buildings rest sits relatively high compared to the racetrack itself, he said.
"We're getting very, very concerned about damage," Sargent said, adding the track's power had been shut off and some equipment had been moved out of the concession stands. "We're just holding our breath now and waiting for it to go back down."
The cancellation marks the second consecutive weekend high waters have prevented racing, and the track schedule may have to be shuffled further depending on when waters recede. NASCAR Night, with an appearance by track co-owner Tony Stewart, is scheduled for May 12 with the next regular racing program set for May 13.
The next Late Model special is scheduled for June 3 with the $5,000-to-win Tri-State Challenge, a Northern Allstars Late Model Series event.