By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Getting Beckley Motorsports Park ready for around 8,000 racing fans has taken a lot of work.
But now, Joe and Billie Jackson and their staff have the 3/8th-mile oval dirt track sparkling for possibly the biggest event in its 53-year history, the Fastrak World Championships.
“All systems are go,” said Joe Jackson, who co-manages the track with his wife Billie. “We’re ready to rock and roll.”
Action begins tonight, when the 154 drivers get a practice session from 8-10 p.m. Racing begins Friday with
“Friday Night Fights,” with eight heat races followed by two “topless” (roofs off) 40-lap features. The winners of each race will earn $2,000.
The top 40 drivers in those races will return Saturday for the 50-lap World Challenge Race. Whoever takes the checkered flag wins $5,000.
The top 24 drivers in the series will then compete for the grand prize of $20,000 in the 75-lap World Championship Race. The competition will draw many of the best Crate-class racers in the country to BMP.
“Fastrak has a unique system in the way people are invited,” Joe Jackson said. “You have to have run 12 races and been in the Top 10 at a local track to qualify.
“It’s not going to be someone who is a rookie who will come into this. You have to put some time and effort into racing to make it this far.”
Billie Jackson said the event will be a great benefit to Beckley.
“Eight thousand people will be out in our community during the day,” she said. “They’ll get to see what Beckley is all about. They won’t be stuck at the track all day. They’ll see what a nice place Beckley is, and see what to do in the area.”
This will be the first Fastrak championship to be held in West Virginia.
To prepare for the races, BMP did a lot of painting, including the guard rails. It also cleaned weeds, cut grass and resurfaced some of the track.
“Fans will see a difference in what we’ve done the last 28 days,” Joe Jackson said. “We tested everything (Tuesday) night. The sound and scoring systems work, all the lights came on, and we’ve gotten people in place, ready for tonight.”
He noted the track is in great shape.
“We got a new drag we put together that really does an excellent job in smoothing out the track,” he said.
Major sponsors for the event include Beckley Auto Mall, Lynch, Rahall & Associates, Glen’s Towing and Daddy Rabbit Graphics.
If rain causes a disruption Friday or Saturday, action will continue at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Billie Jackson said tickets have been ordered from people as far away as Wisconsin and Georgia.
“We’re going to pack the house,” she said.
Points from the races will go toward the Fastrak points championship, which pays $250,000.
FOX Sports will film the races and show them nationally in January.
West Virginia drivers who will compete include:
(car, driver, hometown)
28 — Aaron Barley, Mt. Hope
27 — Ashley Brewster, Kegley
58C — Bill Connard, Glasgow
68 — Tyler Cox, Beckley
D2 — Nolan Dalton, Morgantown
45 — Eddie Hambrick, Beckley
22C — Tate Hughes, Beaver
25 — Chad Justice, Beckley
98 — Caleb Lester, Clear Fork
17 — Jeff Lilly, Beckley
00 — Jeremy Livingood, Gilbert
33 — Chris Meadows, Crab Orchard
12 — Ryan Montgomery, Fairmont
11H — Clark Perry, Seth
77 — Joel Prosser, New Martinsville
18 — T.J. Salango, Glen Daniel
Admission is $10 for tonight’s practice, $20 for Friday’s races ($30 in pit area) and $25 for Saturday ($35). Fans can also purchase a pass for all three days for $50 ($65).
Camping areas are available for $25 for the weekend.
For more information, call 304-228-7013.