One of the premier short tracks in the Midwest will have a new owner in the future. Kalamazoo Speedway announced this morning that Gary Howe is selling the 3/8-mile facility to local businessman Randy Ritchey, who will take full reigns of the track effective November 1, 2020. The track is home to the biggest Outlaw Super Late Model race in the country, the Kalamazoo Klash, as well as other big events such as the Intimidator 100, Call of the Wild, and Super Shoe Nationals.
The conversation about the potential sale of the track began just after the season-ending Super Shoe Nationals when Ritchey approached Howe. Ritchey has long been a supporter of the Michigan speed plant.
“He’s had a skybox the last few years and he came to me maybe two weeks after Super Shoe and started to talk to me about it,” Howe told Speed51.com. “In all honesty, I never knew the guy. I knew we had skybox whatever number, I think 29 and we had a Ritchey in it, but I would not have known him on the day he came and talked to me. He started out the conversation like everyone else does, ‘Is this place for sale or not?’ That’s kind of how it started and it kind of went on from there.”
The 2020 season will see minimal changes to how it’s run week-to-week with Howe still running the show, with Ritchey behind the scenes.
“It’s kind-of a one year lease-to-own kind of thing. The first year, we’re running it 100%, and then for the second year it’s all his,” he said. “Basically I’m running the ship and he’s paying for the fuel. By October 31, it’ll be paid 100%. We are running it and he’s taking over the financial aspect of it.”
One immediate change that’s taking effect is an increased payout across all divisions, as well as purses for big shows. The Kalamazoo Klash will now pay $15,000 to win, making it the highest-paying Outlaw Super Late Model show in the country. The season-opening Intimidator 100 will also see a pay increase with $5,000 now going to the winner.
The track will also see facility improvements in the coming years, which includes a repave.
“He likes the Outlaw Super Late Models and he wants them to be big,” he said. “He wants their name out there and everything, as big as we can get it and that’s what he did, plus even the weekly purses in all five classes have been beefed up a little bit.”
“For pavement racing, it’ll probably end up being the highest-paying race in the Midwest,” Howe added. “I wish we had some more 15 or $20,000-to-win races but it’s not to be anymore, so we have to take what we can get.”
The 2020 racing season at Kalamazoo Speedway begins on Friday, April 24 with the Intimidator 100, the first major Outlaw Super Late Model race of the year.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com