By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Beckley Motorsports Park was ready to wrap up the 2012 season.
Friday night would be the final race. Track championships would be finalized, and planning for next year would begin.
A phone call from the Fastrak Racing Series changed everything.
“We thought we would finish what has been a very successful year,” said Billie Jackson, who manages the Prosperity dirt track with her husband Joe. “Then Fastrak asked us to hold its world championships.”
Out of the blue, possibly the biggest event ever to be held at the 53-year-old track presented itself.
“The drivers have been racing for points money in their series, and they decided Beckley was a central location for their championships,” Jackson said. “We were overwhelmed. Never in a million years would we have thought that in our first (full) year of running the track would we be asked to do something as huge as this.”
After the initial surprise, the Jacksons said yes to the three-day event, which will bring cars from all over the USA and Canada to Beckley Oct. 4-6.
Drivers will practice the first night on the 3/8th-mile, high-banked track from 8-10 p.m. That Friday, they’ll compete in Friday Night Fights, two topless (the car top removed) Crate Models races, 40 laps each paying $2,000 to each winner.
The top 40 drivers in those races will return Saturday for the 50-lap World Challenge Race, which pays $5,000 to the winner.
The top 24 drivers in the series will then compete in the 75-lap World Championship race. Whoever takes the checkered flag will pocket $20,000 — one of the biggest payouts in the history of the track.
The overall points winner will collect $250,000 from Fastrak.
“Beckley is a great location. Geographically speaking, it’s in the middle of our regions,” Fastrak CEO Stan Lester said. “The racing at Beckley has been phenomenal this year. All of us at Fastrak are excited about what the next few weeks hold.”
After BMP concludes its regular season Friday night with a full slate of races, the track will close down for two weeks.
“We’ll have to paint, clean and cut brush,” Jackson said. “We’ll try to make everything shine so when people come to Beckley, they’ll be impressed.”
It’s not just the fans who make the trip who will see the track. Fox Sports will be on hand to tape the championship race and will broadcast it in January.
“We’ve got to get our lighting better because Fox is filming in HD,” Jackson said.
“This is a big event for the area. People are calling, wanting to know about motels and things to do around Beckley.”
Greg Pierce (Street Stocks), Joe Cox (Open-Wheel Modifieds), Will Brogan (Outlaw Streets), have already won BMP championships. The Late Models class is still up for grabs between Brad Jarrell and Rick Williams, and Mike Faykus and Eddie Hambrick will duel for the Crate class title Friday night.
Rookie of the Year honors are on the line in Late Models between David Watts and Ronnie Poole, and Shane Greco and Bill Connard in the Crate class.
“Intense racing will go on Friday night,” Jackson said.
Rookies of the year already selected include Eddie Baldwin (Street Stocks), Michael Moore (Open Wheel Modifieds), Adam Lilly (Outlaw Streets) and Zach Lilly (Hornets).
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