Hayden Speedway back in business after 4-year hiatus
Steamboat Springs — Corey Hunter remembers vividly the days when 40 or 50 cars would make their way to Hayden Speedway on race nights, the good old days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he said.
Excitement surrounded the track on the outskirts of Hayden. The nights were full of tailgating, entertainment and, of course, roaring engines for racing junkies like Hunter, who would pour into the stadium to see what locals and visitors all the way from Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska had to offer.
And before the 2011 season, things came to an end — the speedway got a red light, so to speak, after funding, racers and overall support dwindled.
But for the first time since 2010, the decades-old track is set to get back in business. Hunter and Race Director Lee Wolford have spent the last year building the nonprofit Hayden Motorsports and revamping a speedway that was so desperately in need of a makeover.
“You name it, it needed it,” Hunter said.
New buildings were inserted, all the wiring and lights were replaced and the oval’s guard rail and fencing were refurbished to meet insurance standards. Four years of dormancy also required the dirt track to get a 20,000-gallon water bath, a necessity for the speedway style.
With Hayden Motorsports leading the way, and a huge outpouring of community individual and business support, the Hayden Speedway is set to host its first race Saturday night in four years.
“It’ll be the excitement of the old Hayden Speedway, but brought up to modern needs,” Hunter said. “The whole place is just nicer. And I had a lot of people who did help.”
The motivation to get the speedway back on track came from a variety of factors, Hunter said. The Hayden racing tradition is simply too rich to ignore, he said, with races dating back to 1978.
It was the thing to do in a town with very little to do these days, especially for youngsters. Raising a pair of dirt-bike-riding children who enjoy motorsports like their father, Hunter saw a hole in the community that needed to be filled.
“We don’t have a theater or pool or rec center,” Hunter said. “The idea was to get this thing going, so we approached the town of Hayden with a five-year plan.”
More than 40 businesses and community members answered the call, donating materials and dollars to purchase the necessary remodeling equipment.
Saturday night will mark the first in a series of seven races planned this summer at Hayden Speedway. They are scheduled for June 28, July 12 and 26, Aug. 9 and 23, and a grand finale on Sept. 13.
“We have a wide range of vehicles,” Hunter said. “Everything form minis (small four-cylinder cars) up through modified, which is basically a scrap metal pile with tires on it. They flat out fly. They are fast.”
Craig resident Scott McKinney is the owner of two cars, which will be driven Saturday by Robby McKinney, 22, and Casey Madsen, 20. Both are in the outlaw class, the four-cylinder variety.
Scott McKinney is as excited as anyone to get his cars back on the track, but he’s hoping the remodeled track will restore the mindset away from egos and back to a fun-filled summer night at the speedway.
“You get rid of the attitude and ego, we will have an excellent night of racing,” McKinney said. “It gives the town something to do — all the towns something to do. It’s fantastic they could rally the resources and get the track back up.”
Gates open at 4 p.m. for spectators, with heat races starting at 6 and finals at 7. Admission is free for children younger than 5, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and $10 ages 13 and older. Concessions stands will be held by the American Legion and the Hayden High School booster club.
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