Thunderdome to run full season
by James Phillips
May 10, 2013 | 3109 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Driver Kevin Harrison runs a few practice laps at the Thunderdome Racetrack in Jasper on Tuesday. The 2013 racing season opens at the racetrack on Sunday. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
Driver Kevin Harrison runs a few practice laps at the Thunderdome Racetrack in Jasper on Tuesday. The 2013 racing season opens at the racetrack on Sunday. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
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When Kenny Hogan took his first look at the former Jasper Speedway, the conditions of the track and surrounding area could be summed up in one word — rough.

The complex had succumbed to the wild.

Trees were in the infield, the old pressbox was in ruins and the paved track was broken and mangled.

That was three years ago.

Now, behind tireless long days of repair and hard work, the revamped Thunderdome Racetrack is up and running.

The track is located on Lakewood Drive, half a mile off Industrial Boulevard and one mile from Interstate 22.

An entire racing season will be held in 2013, beginning with races this Sunday said Hogan, owner of the Thunderdome Sports and Entertainment Complex.

The gates open at 8 a.m. Practice will be held in the morning, followed by a driver’s meeting from noon to 1 p.m.

Races get under way beginning at 2 p.m.

“I want to get the opening day out of the way so we can keep pushing on and see where we need to improve,” Hogan said. “This is very exciting racing. There’s not a bad seat in the house. That’s one thing that is unique here, there isn’t a bad seat. There’s nothing you can see.”

Classes that will race every week are: Street Stock, Ponys, Buzz Cars, Renegades and Road Warriors.

Admission is $7 for the grandstands and $20 for the infield.

There were two test races held at the track last year.

“That was to see what we needed. We got a lot of things straightened up. I was multi-tasking last year. This time I’m down to two or three things,” said Hogan, who was the former Hog Car and Figure 8 champion at the track in 1991.

He took part in the track’s last regular-season race in 1998, finishing 10th.

Following the first test race, word about the racetrack reopening spread through the area.

“The next month we had 100 more people show up. So many people called me. People said, ‘I heard that C.J. flipped and Charlie flipped. I can’t believe I missed it,’” Hogan said.

Heading into this season, the track has been repaved. Also, a new pressbox is up along with a concession stand.

Hogan said the race season will last for the better of part of five months, ending in October.

Volunteers have been helping Hogan get the speedway ready for opening day.

“There were three people here painting the finish line for us (Wednesday night). The whole community has been so supportive. You would not believe how many volunteers we’ve had out here every week. It’s people I don’t even know,” Hogan said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Hogan, who is from Inglenook and now lives in Dora, said getting the track up and running was not his dream, but his 18-year-old daughter Kenna’s.

“She loves racing that much. To me, it’s something to do. For her, she just loves it. This is her dream and she’s been here for all of it,” Hogan said.