When the high-banked half-mile oval of Mobile International Speedway opens its gates on March 10, it will do so with the father-son tandem of Charlie and Kody Lyons as the new operators of the historic facility. Charlie Lyons signed a lease agreement with current owner Ida Hatfield with the intentions of purchasing the oval and drag strip in 2019.
Now that the track is under Lyons’ control, the 52-year-old owner of Charlier’s Classic Cars from Irvington, Alabama is planning on doing things a little bit differently this year.
“What we’re doing a little differently is we’re right here on the Gulf of Mexico, which is the seafood capital of America,” Lyons told Speed51.com. “We’ll have conventional food at our concessions but we’ll also have things like shrimp po-boys and barbecue and other things. I want to make it to where this is a family event and they’re excited and they say ‘Hey, I want to go to the track this weekend.’”
Food isn’t the only thing Lyons plans on doing a bit differently in 2018. The track will have some non-traditional racing events like the Bandit Big Rig Series on March 10 and the Mobile 300 which is a 300-lap race to conclude the Southern Super Series season. Lyons said that he’s also planning on having the track be an active partner in the community as well.
“We’re really excited about the season. We start our season on March 10 and we have the Bandit Big Rig Series coming in out of Minnesota. We’re going to run those trucks at the track. Then we have a 13-race schedule of regular events and we’re also going to try to add the Sprint Cars into our season once a month. Then the 14th race of our season will be the Mobile 300 and that race will be the Southern Super Series points championship. We’re excited about that.”
While Lyons said that he can’t wait to get the season going, he seemed more excited to talk about the endless possibilities to branch out into the community to gain fans and support.
Lyons said that Mobile International Speedway is now a “partner-in-education” within the local school system.
“They have a vocational program and an automotive side to their teaching at our local schools. We’re going to bring those kids in to just assist our tech people. They’ll assist the tech on our drag strip side and any other capacity that they can at the speedway.”
Another way that Lyons plans on reaching out into the community is by partnering with youth groups of local churches.
“We’re going to get with the local churches in our community and get the youth groups involved and what we’re going to do with those youth groups is offer an opportunity for the youths to come to the track and walk around the stands and help sell (soda) and we’ll split the profit off of what they sell with their youth groups. So these kids will come out and they’re earning their own money for their youth camps, earning their own money to go on trips within their churches and their civic groups.”
Lyons said that the plan is to make fans out of the kids first, and if he can do that, then he believes that they’ll become regulars at the facility.
“We’re just trying to incorporate the kids in the community. I think if we get the kids in the community to come then they’ll get their parents to come with them and then it’s a more family-functioning event.”
The full 14-race schedule for the 2018 season at Mobile International Speedway will be released soon. For more information, visit MobileSpeedway.net.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo