MANSFIELD, OH. — The long history of racing in Mansfield, Ohio is deep, rich and dates back to 1959 when the original track (Mansfield Raceway) first opened as a 3/8-mile dirt track. It was converted to an asphalt track in 1999, renamed (Mansfield Motorsports Speedway) and has remained asphalt ever since. The speedway saw its pinnacle moments from 2004-2008 when it held NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events and drew standing room only crowds of over 20,000 in attendance.
Although there has been many ups and downs at the facility, different promoters, different names and major changes, no group has ever transformed the venue back to its original roots as a dirt track racing facility…until now.
Mansfield Motor Speedway is excited to announce it will be transforming the .44 Mile oval into a full blown dirt racing track and will host some of the biggest short track events across the country, amongst other entertainment for the Mid-Ohio region.
In 2013, local business man Grant Milliron bought the race track in hopes of allowing it to become what it once was, a motorsports fan destination, local economic powerhouse and “The Racing Capitol of Ohio”.
Since 2013, the speedway has tried several different routes, of which have not been able to stabilize themselves into long-term success stories. Cody Sommer, the President of the new dirt racing venture, Mansfield Motor Speedway, believes that changing back to a dirt track has massive upside and long-term potential that both he and Milliron desire.
“Dirt racing in Ohio is strong and overall across the country it is in a much better situation than asphalt," Sommer said. "Mansfield is located in the heart of some of the best racing in the country and with a venue as nice as this (Mansfield), it is a shame it has not been put back on the map like it deserves."
When talking about the venue opening as a dirt track in 2017, Sommer does not hold back on expectations and plans.
“Mansfield was once nationally ranked in the top five of greatest race tracks in the country and I don’t see any reason why it cannot return back to that very quickly," he stated. "We will have the only dirt track I am aware of with safer barriers, we have 12 luxury suites, a complete race control room, 7,200 aluminum bleacher seats with chair backed/covered VIP reserved seating for 2,000 as well. There is also our hillside seating option for around 2,000 for a total capacity of nearly 10,000…it is just setup perfectly for what I want to do.
Mansfield Motor Speedway will transform to dirt with many changes and upgrades and open in the spring. Sommer has agreed to terms with the speedway’s owner Grant Milliron for a three-year deal, which includes a purchase option of the Mansfield,Ohio property. A deal which clearly supports the long term expectations, goals and vision Sommer has for the venue.
“Cody and his team have big plans and great vision," Milliron said. "He is in this for the long haul and is willing to put in the resources and time the facility needs to be successful. I look forward to seeing this facility change for the good and get back to the economic powerhouse it once was."
Sommer has been involved in racing for 15 years and grew up in central Illinois where he drove dirt race cars at a variety of race tracks in the Midwest, before re-locating to Charlotte, North Carolina to pursue a full-time racing career in the NASCAR racing industry.
In 2011, Sommer started a brewery outside of Charlotte and quickly built the company across 30 states with a distribution network of over 170 wholesalers from coast to coast. In motorsports, Sommer has a wide variety of projects under his belt and is known for producing big events that draw large crowds and national attention. He held the Carolina Crown, which is still the largest dirt race in the history of South Carolina. He promoted the Indy Invitational at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse to a nearly sold out crowd, an event that drew NASCAR names like Ricky Stenhouse and Kyle Larson.
Sommer is also responsible for the VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals, an event that concluded this December and is being considered by many industry professionals as one of the greatest achievements in the modern era of Dirt Racing, as well as a strong candidate for 2016 race of the year. It quickly became one of the most talked about events in history since Sommer announced it in February 2016, then later delivered a quality product as promised to race fans and competitors this winter in St Louis, Missouri.
Sommer now adds Mansfield Motor Speedway to his arsenal and is looking at the Mid-Ohio venue as one of his largest commitments yet.
“It is a huge project and a massive undertaking. However, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have high expectations and a big picture that I was thinking about for the place," Sommer said. “This venue will cater to not only the hardcore motorsports fan but also to the Mid-Ohio resident, their families, their hobbies and interests…an entertainment destination."
For 2017, Mansfield Motor Speedway is quickly putting together an impressive list of events and is planning to open doors with the Inaugural TRIPLE CROWN Spring Series. A three races in three weekends concept featuring 410 Sprint Cars, Super Late Models and Wingless Sprint Cars all racing for $5,000 to win. The TRIPLE CROWN Spring Series starts on March 25 and will run continuing weekends on April 1 and April 8 to complete the TRIPLE CROWN Spring Series.
Any competitor winning all three of their divisions events and therefore conquering the “TRIPLE CROWN” will be awarded a special bonus. Also on the schedule, Monster Truck Mania with Transaurus is scheduled for May 6 and Monster Truck super stars BIG FOOT, AVENGER and BRUTUS are just a few of the trucks that will stomp around the Mansfield Motor Speedway venue.
More major event highlights include a Memorial Day Weekend special on May 28 with the All Star Circuit Of Champions Sprint Cars race as well as a July 2 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event “FREEDOM 50” which will include a large fire works display.
August 11-12 the inaugural “Great Lakes Dirt Nationals” will take to the speedway. The event, a conglomeration of all things open wheel will feature the FAST Series and Ohio Sprint Car Series in a co-sanctioned event for 410 Sprint Cars, as well as FAST 305 Sprint Cars and BOSS Wingless Sprint Cars. The Great Lakes Dirt Nationals is highlighted by the $15,000-to-win event on Saturday for FAST/OSCS as well as $5,000-to-win BOSS and $3,000 to Win FAST 305 sprint cars.
More major events are in the works and additions to 2017 schedule are being considered with 2018 and 2019 featuring an escalation in special events at the Mansfield Motor Speedway.
Mansfield Motor Speedway (MMS) can be found online at www.MansfieldMotorSpeedway.com where a full website will be released soon. In the meantime, Mansfield Motor Speedway suggests fans to connect with them directly on social media to stay up to date on special news and announcements at www.Facebook.com/MansfieldMotorSpeedway and Twitter @RaceMansfield. MMS has an information phone line at 419-465-RACE (7223). Any inquiries can also be sent via email to: [email protected].
-Mansfield Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: CRA