Fewer still have actually been there to see its dirt-track racing.
Two racing industry veterans are hoping to change that.
Doug Bland, president of Bland Sports Marketing, and race-car builder Jerry Hoffman have purchased the quarter-mile oval track and facility in northwest Springfield for an undisclosed amount. They plan to make significant upgrades to the site, including the addition of a half-mile go-kart track, skybox suites, additional grandstand seating and improved lighting. Springfield Raceway is located on Westgate Avenue, just south of Kearney Street, near Springfield Branson National Airport.
Bland said the improvements to the facility, which he said would cost at least $100,000, are intended to bring the racing facility back to life.
“I think the track has so much potential with its location, and it’s never been promoted in the right light in the past,” he said. “Springfield is a racing town, but everybody has to drive an hour to see racing.”
Bland said the facility’s seating capacity should double to about 2,000, and numerous should be complete in time for the next racing season.
“We’re going to make some improvements, clean it up, so that in the spring, people won’t be afraid to bring a guest or a corporate client out there and entertain them,” Bland added.
The track will hold four racing classes, from late models to sprint cars, on its clay track.
One major draw for the facility will be the new go-kart track, which Bland said would be the only paved track of its size in the area for go-karting and could attract national go-kart events. The nearest comparable facilities, he said, are in St. Louis and Oklahoma City.
Another possible draw is Bland’s connection with NASCAR. Springfield-based Bland Sports Marketing handles media and public relations work for several drivers in the Craftsman Truck Series, including 2006 series regulars Chad McCumbee and Brendan Gaughan.
“Being still involved with that should help us with the track, too. I can twist a few arms of my driver friends to make an appearance in Springfield,” Bland said, adding that he has already discussed with Gaughan the possibility of a visit to the track in coming weeks.
Bland is also no stranger to track management; he previously worked as marketing director for speedways owned by Roger Penske in California and Florida.
Hoffman is also familiar with the racing scene; a driver since the age of 17, he’s now owner of Joplin-based Hoffman Race Cars, which builds dirt-track and modified racing vehicles. He said he’s been watching racing in this area since he was a young child, and he wants to bring back that opportunity in Springfield.
“It used to be a big racing town years ago,” Hoffman said. “Now, it’s amazing how many people don’t even know that race track is there.”[[In-content Ad]]
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