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Daily Dirt

Kelley Carlton

Kelley Carlton lives in Woodruff, S.C., and is the director of the Ultimate Super Late Model Series. He also operates a marketing, public relations and event management firm.
December 13, 2016

St. Louis is upon us

I’m excited about my next racing duties — serving as Late Model race director for the Inaugural VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals presented by Karl Performance this weekend at The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo. | Live pay-per-view details

This is an opportunity to be a part of what could become one of the historic events in the history of our sport. An opportunity to work with a dedicated and driven group of individuals who are busting their collective asses to make the event entertaining and successful. The effort that is being put forth is nothing short of miraculous.

So much work and planning have gone into this event. Cody Sommer, Jeremy and Ashley Burnett and everyone involved have poured blood, sweat and tears into the planning and its execution. They have also created a painstakingly comprehensive website that can literally answer almost any question that one may have. There are detailed maps, schedules and procedures laid out in black and white so that no one should be met with any surprises. This event is unique and it offers many special circumstances that people who participate or attend must understand.

Tri-City Speedway co-owner Kevin Gundaker and his staff have been diligent in getting the track itself built. His confidence is all that I needed in order to allay any concerns about that track itself. If Kevin says it’s going to be good to go, then by God, it’s good to go.

I have seen, read and heard so many negative comments about this event. It's very frustrating. The Gateway Dirt Nationals could be a huge success, a moderate success or a complete failure. But I can assure you that if it is the latter it will not be from a lack of effort. It will not be because of a lack of preparation or planning. It will not be from a lack of the right personnel to get the job done.

I have complete confidence that the event will be an unqualified success because I believe in the people that are working so hard to make it happen. So when you start talking among yourselves about how bad this thing is going to be or how it can’t work here are a few things you should keep in mind. How many people told Earl Baltes that a big racetrack built in the middle of cornfields could never be successful? How many people told Chili Bowl co-founder Emmett Hahn that a race inside a building is a crazy idea and that no one would ever come and see it?

I’m often frustrated by all the negativity that seems to dwell within our sport. I see people saying the track is too narrow ... or the track is too short ... or not banked enough … or that the walls and fences won’t work. My question to the people asking those questions: “How did you build your indoor track?” Yeah, exactly.

Only once previously has this been attempted for Dirt Late Models with a 1982 event at the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit. But why not give it a shot? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give it a chance. See what happens. Because come next Sunday, if the event is a complete success, there is going to be a smorgasbord of crow awaiting the naysayers.

I am proud to be a small part of this historic event. I am excited about what it can mean for our sport. I am honored to be working with this dedicated and talented team who will make this a success. Hope you will join us in St. Louis. We will see you in the Dome!


  1. 1.
    December 13, 2016
    6:51 am
    I hope this race is a huge success. This would have been the place to race midgets and outlaw karts last year. This pictures of the track look great.
  2. 2.
    December 13, 2016
    7:49 am

  3. 3.
    December 13, 2016
    2:30 pm
    only thing bothers me is a list of drivers or aleast a car count in both divisions . other then that . see ya there
  4. 4.
    December 13, 2016
    3:13 pm
    Great read. I'm this close (thumb forefinger close together)in giving up on the sport entirely. So sick and tired of all the negativity that's so prominent nowadays. Social media, Facebook is doing it's best to hurt the sport and those spewing it don't realize the damage they do. Don't get me wrong, there is benefits, but man the uninformed views being spewed is at an all time high.
    Time will tell on this event and when all is said and done there will be finger pointing from one view or the other. But one thing for sure, as you said, the amount of time and money invested by the promoters is unfathomable and all involved have given this their best shot.
    Leaving at 10am tomorrow with our mod to wrap up a 27 year race team career.
  5. 5.
    December 13, 2016
    4:48 pm
    We will be there.
  6. 6.
    December 14, 2016
    5:58 pm
    taking the long 13-mile trip tomorrow afternoon
  7. 7.
    December 15, 2016
    3:42 pm
    I think it's great we need more people in or sport with open minds this will be great for the future all year racin
  8. 8.
    December 16, 2016
    2:52 pm
    I hope this is a big big success... I said years ago when they shut the Astrodome down they should put dirt on the floor and go racing. The only bad thing is you would have to run modifieds and bombers... Something about Houston that can not pull Late Models for some reason.

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