“Instead of keeping the shopping mall, let’s tear it down and build a race track.”
Unfortunately, that’s not a sentence that is often heard in today’s world, if ever. In most cases it’s the opposite that is said. Track offices are constantly being boarded up and grandstands torn down so that a new strip mall, housing development or golf course can be put in its place.
It’s refreshing to hear of closed race tracks being reopened and that’s exactly the case for Jones Motor Speedway in Chatham, Louisiana which will reopen under new management for the 2015 season.
Former dirt track racer Mark Underwood is reopening the 1/4-mile dirt track. The track will re-open in March as “Underwood Speedway.”
“Jones Motor Speedway has been closed I think for three years, and a lot of people were really disappointed that it closed,” Underwood told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We love racing and there just was no place. Not unless you drove two and a half hours. I’m just trying to help the guys out and make some money too.”
While Underwood has raced for 30 years, being a promoter of a race track will bring about new hurdles that he’s never faced before.
“It’s going to be a lot different for me,” said Underwood. “My biggest challenge will be getting cars. That’s my biggest challenge. Just getting people to show back up. It had such a bad reputation.”
Underwood explained that the track did reopen for a brief period after it was initially closed, but someone who, according to Underwood, had little knowledge in how to prepare a dirt surface opened it.
“He came from a drag racing background so the track sucked,” said Underwood. “He had a full house but the track sucked. The cars would leave the ground going down the back straightaway.”
Underwood plans to have five divisions racing weekly with “Sport Mods” as the headlining division. He says he already has some special shows scheduled as well with touring series such as the Louisiana Bayou Sprinters, Southern Outlaw Sprinters and Southern Crate Late Model Series.
While Underwood remains nervous about getting cars to come to his track when it reopens, he’s excited for opening night on March 28 and is confident in the future of the facility.
“We’ve had a lot of interest so I think we’ll be in good shape.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
Photo Credit: USRAracing.com