You know, this state is home to several dirt racing facilities and a lot of fans probably haven’t been to half of them.

I got to thinking about that and decided that perhaps you would like to know a little bit about each one.

There are, in no particular order, Beckley Motor Speedway, Princeton Speedway, West Virginia Motor Speedway, Tyler County Speedway, Interstate 79 Speedway, Pennsboro Speedway, Interstate 77 Speedway, Hatfield-McCoy Speedway, Ohio Valley Speedway and Elkins Speedway.

That’s 10 in all. While most of them are currently in operation, a couple have been shut down.

So which ones are worth the trip?

Let’s rank them from worst to first, just for fun.

I can hear the howls of outrage already from anyone who has ever been there, but I’m sorry, Pennsboro Speedway is No. 10.

While it was the party capital of dirt racing for several years and hosted two of the crown jewels of racing, the facility was still a dump.

The half-mile, egg-shaped oval started out as a horse racing track years ago before being converted to auto racing in the 1960s. After a fire destroyed the grandstands in 1980, fans had to dig a spot out of the hillside to sit and watch the races, which were one-groove, follow-the-leader affairs.

No seating, no parking, no lights, no facilities and one-groove racing all combine to place Pennsboro at the bottom of the list.

The only bright spots for the track were the number of top drivers who came to race there year after year and the wild, non-stop partying.

The track shut down for good about five years ago when floodwaters washed away most of the backstretch.

Next on the list is Interstate 77 Speedway in Fairplains. The only reason it ranks higher than Pennsboro is that it’s still open.

The 3/8-mile semi-banked oval has been mismanaged for years. It’s more infamous for its racing surface, which featured ruts deep enough to lose a race car, than anything else.

This season, the track prep has improved, but the management has not.

Coming in at No. 8 is Hatfield-McCoy Speedway in Hanover.

The 4/10-mile oval is currently shut down but featured a fast racing surface and a great concession. No parking and poorly placed seating helped drop this track down the list.

Up next are two tracks that are trying to rebound.

The seventh spot goes to Ohio Valley Speedway, located in Washington.

The best way to describe this 3/8-mile track is “two dragstrips with turns placed at the ends.” The new promoters have slowly updated the facility, repairing bleachers and reworking the racing surface, and appear to have it on the verge of turning the corner.

The next track, Princeton Speedway, is hard for me to place as I have never personally been to the 4/10-mile, high-banked oval.

Just going on what people have told me about the facility, it too, has been mismanaged for years. I rank it high, though, because of new track operator Jeremy Peck.

No Late Models or Semi-Lates running there pushes the track back down the list.

While the stands are in need of repair and the racing surface needs replaced, I’m encouraged by Peck’s attitude and business sense.

Hopefully, I’m going to be making a trip to the track in the very near future to check it out first-hand.

Making the list at fifth is Tyler County Speedway near Middlebourne.

This ranking really bugs me because this 1/4-mile, high-banked bullring was the track of my youth. I spent a lot of Saturday nights there being covered from head to toe in dirt. And that’s the main problem. The grandstand is literally right up against the track and the fans are showered in dirt.

The track has parking and pits that go on forever, but the lighting is poor, at best, and it’s almost impossible to identify a car on the frontstretch from the backstretch stands. Management at the facility is also in a constant flux as the track is owned by the local fair board and run by an ever-changing cast of promoters.

No. 4 is Elkins Speedway in Kerens.

The 3/8-mile track is the oldest in the state, opening in the late 1940s, and one of the wildest. There are no guardrails around the turns or on the backstretch and a concrete wall lines the frontstretch. Seating is great with two sets of bleachers in the pits and plenty of seating on the front side.

The downsides are parking and poor concessions and facilities.

Beckley Motor Speedway is third on the list.

The racing is great and the facilities at the 3/8-mile, high-banked oval are top-notch. The pits and the sound system have also improved.

Parking and access to the track are major issues, though, as well as ownership. If the ownership problems could be straightened out, the potential here is limitless.

West Virginia Motor Speedway near Mineral Wells ranks second on the list and that ranking has nothing to do with the facilities, which are superb.

The fact of the matter is the main problem with the 5/8-mile track is that it’s not open enough and it has the worst ownership and management of any track in the state. There is also a problem with access and parking, but the seating, lighting, sound system, pits, racing surface, concessions and bathroom facilities are outstanding.

Topping the list is Interstate 79 Speedway near Shinnston, which is kind of sad considering it has been closed a couple of seasons now.

Argue with me if you will, but the 1/4-mile, semi-banked oval had it all — outstanding management, a racing surface second to none that attracted drivers from all over the state and from Pennsylvania and Ohio as well on a weekly basis, great concessions, plenty of seating, huge pits and plenty of parking. Add in a great set of announcers and a weekly pre-race radio program that featured driver interviews at the track and the place becomes pretty hard to beat.

The only things you can fault the track for is poor bathroom facilities and a lot of dust for some of its bigger events.

So there you have it, race fans. Let the debates begin.

— E-mail:

React to this story: