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West Virginia Motor Speedway

Reconfiguration revised, WVMS aims for 3/8-mile

April 7, 2011, 9:51 am
From track reports

MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. — Plenty of parents have suggested that if you're going to do a job, do it right. Promoters at West Virginia Motor Speedway are heeding that advice in transforming the mammoth dirt track into a smaller oval with a massive spring project.

Equipment from throughout the state has been assembled at the track, said Lynn Chapman of Mountain State Motorsports Promoters, and preliminary work got under way recently at the track just west of I-79 and south of Parkersburg.

Wanting a change from the original 5/8-mile layout that tested powerplants and sometimes stretched out fields of race cars, promoters originally planned to reconfigure the track as a 4/10-mile oval using much of the original layout. That's since been modified as the work began at WVMS.

"We took a long, hard look at that idea, and began to have second thoughts," said Brian Ferrell, another partner at Mountain State Motorsports Promotions. "We were afraid that we simply would be trading one oversized, high-horsepower track for a smaller version.

"That wouldn't have accomplished anything. We decided that since were spending the time, effort and expense to reconfigure the track, we wanted the finished product to be a track that produced close and exciting racing, not just high speeds alone."

Enter civil engineer Bob Bolles. Bolles, who also serves as the senior technical editor of Circle Track magazine, was contacted by Chapman after the pair had communicated about building "the perfect dirt track."

Bolles, whose engineering background and involvement with dirt track racing "provided some great information and needed direction," Chapman said, will help oversee what will now be the new WVMS.

The result will be a 3/8 mile oval that will incorporate only a portion of the original frontstretch in its new configuration. Both turns and the backstretch will sit well inside the original track layout.

"Instead of guardrails, we'll use run-off areas," Chapman said. "It saves damage to the cars. The big track was notorious for wrecks that would total cars when they hit the walls. We wanted to eliminate as much of that as possible with the new track."

A smaller track will make racing more accessible for regional racers, Ferrell said.

"We have a tremendous talent pool of racers in the mid-Ohio Valley area, but the original track's size was so demanding on equipment that many no longer could support the races out here," he said. "The new 3/8-mile will be a true oval. It will have 100-foot wide turns banked at about 15 degrees, and 70-foot wide straightaways.

"The turn entry and exits are designed to promote passing, and will be a part of what will make the new track different than any other in the area. We're excited about the new track, and really believe that the local racers and fans will be as well."

Earth-moving began in earnest this week at WVMS with the help of students from various regions of the state who are enrolled in the Heavy Equipment Operator Training program of Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College. They're using the project as a training site under the instruction of a skilled earth moving and construction operators.

"When the project is complete, the Mountain State will also have employable operators ready to join the labor force," Chapman said. "It's a great opportunity for the school's project-based training program, and beneficial to the state and all involved."

The 2011 season is set to kick off at WVMS on May 28-29 with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series-sanctioned RaceFest. Among other divisions in action for the season opener will be the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Car Series. For more details, visit www.wvspeedway.com or call the track at (304) 489-0090.

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