By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Beckley Motorsports Park is ready to roll.
The track is in excellent shape. The stands are clean. Concessions await customers.
And the drivers are rarin’ to go as the 3/8th-mile oval dirt track enters its 54th season of competition with its Spring Thaw races Friday evening.
Driver interest in the offseason was strong.
“We’ve preregistered 98 cars,” track co-manager Billie Jackson said. “That’s really, really good.”
Thirty-two cars came out to practice last Friday at the facility. Jackson said many of them were drivers new to the facility.
“They were happy to get some seat time in,” she said.
The track was rough, where it had sat all winter, but track staff worked hard on it this week.
“It’s as smooth as can be,” Jackson said. “We were pretty satisfied with how everything was when we ended last season. We basically repaired damage from over the winter, painted some and concentrated on the track. Just general housekeeping.”
Gates will open at 4 p.m. The drivers meeting is at 6:45 p.m., with racing to follow 15 minutes later.
Friday’s racing will include six classes — AMRA Modifieds, Fastrak Crates, Outlaw Modified, Street Stock and Hornets.
Last year’s winners included Greg Pierce of Sullivan in Street Stocks, Rick Williams of Beckley in Late Models, Joe Cox of Stanaford in AMRA Modifieds, Mike Faykus of Prosperity in Crates, Will Brogan in Outlaw Modifieds and D.J. Critchley of Danese in Hornets.
The points race will start with next week’s races.
“We’ll start counting point the second week, so people will have a week to work the bugs out,” said Jackson, who manages the track with her husband Joe.
The track will open without two longtime stalwarts who have passed away, Larry Stacy and Mike Faykus Sr.
Stacy worked 52 years as a scorer at the track.
“You can’t find anyone with Larry’s knowledge of racing and the track history,” Jackson said. “Everyone, including the drivers, knew him and valued his opinion.”
Stacy’s grandson Joseph Rush, who worked with the electronic scoring the past few seasons, will join another track veteran, Debbie O’Dell, as official scorers.
Faykus Sr. had not only raced at BMP, but had run the track in the past.
“Mike was my advisor,” Jackson said.
Racing will continue into the fall. Several key events have been announced, including the Fastrak Touring Race on May 10; the return of popular NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace on May 17; and the Ultimate Super Late Model Show, the Black Gold 50 on June 14-15. The two-day event will be a tribute to all coal miners, past and present.
Fans this season can enjoy the track’s new signature sandwich, the Coal Miner’s Special. It’s a fried baloney sandwich made the way you want it.
“Other tracks have sandwiches, and so do stadiums. So I thought we should have our favorite sandwich,” Jackson said. “A coal miner tells me fried baloney is what he takes in his bucket every day.”
General admission this season is $12. Kids ages 6-10 will pay $6, while those 5 and under get in free. Pit passes are $25.
The proverbial fly in the ointment is the weather. Forecasts call for thunderstorms on Friday.
“You do all you can do, and if it’s meant to be, it will be,” Jackson said. “If not, we’ll do it next week.
“If it’s rained out, we’ll post it on Facebook and Twitter at 4 p.m.”
— E-mail: dstillwell