Virginia Motor Speedway is celebrating its 50th year of racing in 2019, and the Jamaica, Virginia venue has saved the biggest celebration for last. The FASTRAK World Championship rolls into town on September 13-14, boasting a $50,000 payday for the winner of the Pro Late Model showcase.
Bill Sawyer, owner of Virginia Motor Speedway, joined Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” on Monday to discuss the upcoming event.
“Excited doesn’t really cover it,” said Sawyer. “There’s never been an event like this for Pro Late Models with 604 crate engines. We have been with FASTRAK long enough to know this is the way to go. We are thrilled to be able to host it.”
The idea for a $50,000 event started while Sawyer was brainstorming with Dave Seay, Director of Marketing, Sales and Public Relations at Virginia Motor Speedway. Virginia Motor Speedway has hosted the FASTRAK World Championship since 2014, but Sawyer proposed an idea to make the event even bigger.
“I was talking to Dave Seay when we were coming up on our 50th Anniversary of the race track being in existence,” said Sawyer. “I said, ‘Why don’t we pay $50,000 to win at the FASTRAK World Championship?’ He got real quiet and almost fell out of his chair, but that’s what we decided on. We think it’s a great opportunity, not just for the speedway but for Pro Late Model competitors.”
Sawyer is pleased with the ongoing relationship with the FASTRAK Racing Series, believing in the series’ vision for the future of Dirt Late Model racing.
“FASTRAK means to me, the survival and future of Late Models,” explained Sawyer. “Nobody wants to see the Supers go away, but the cost of racing a Super Late Model is like trying to race an asphalt Late Model Stock Car. The costs are rising tremendously, from engines to chassis. Pro Late Models, with the FASTRAK rules that they have in place, make it affordable for local and regional guys to race. That was my main thought about staying with FASTRAK, staying with Stan [Lester] and his people.”
The Sawyer family purchased Virginia Motor Speedway after selling Richmond International Raceway in 1999. The dirt track allowed the family to return to the grassroots of racing, a role they have enjoyed ever since.
“When we sold Richmond, the fun had gone away,” said Sawyer. “It had gotten so business-like. With us being a family entity, we figured it was the right time to walk away. It has afforded me the chance to buy what then was Saluda Raceway, which was a dilapidated half-mile with not a whole lot of amenities. It became like the rising of the phoenix out of the sand.
“We put a lot of thought into it. We looked at what we should do and what we were going to do. It’s been a family business. A father, two sons and a nephew, that’s what we came up with.
I love coming here, even in the winter. It’s put the fun back in racing for me. After just celebrating my 70thbirthday, it’s still fun, and it’s going to be fun.”
Now, the venue will host the FASTRAK World Championships, which will draw upwards of 150 cars across the competing bodies and garner worldwide exposure through a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51 as well as an enhanced tape-delayed broadcast on MAVTV’s Short Track America.
“It’s something that I needed to do to put this facility on the map instead of, ‘Well, we’re going to Jamaica, Virginia.’ What the hell is Jamaica, Virginia? It’s the Jamaica district of Middlesex County where we are located. It goes hand-in-hand with what we wanted to do.
“What we’re after is the exposure. All of a sudden, the light goes on. We need to go there. That looked like a hell of a show. We need to put Virginia Motor Speedway on our bucket list for 2020. That’s what we’re after.”
Fans unable to check the FASTRAK World Championship off the bucket list this weekend will be able to watch live on Speed51. Click here to order your pay-per-view ticket today for the event.
For more information about Virginia Motor Speedway, visit www.vamotorspeedway.com.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo