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Iconic race tracks set to reopen to delight of fans

They were icons of the area for 40 years and brought joy to countless race fans until they closed in the past decade. Now, I-70 Speedway and Kansas City International are set to reopen.

I-70 Speedway was home to four years of NASCAR Truck Races and 40 years of racing by the likes of Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin.

“We`re talking multiple generations. We had grandparents, parents and children that shared experiences out here,” Chris Payne said.

Payne owned Kansas City International Raceway, a drag strip that also had a 40-year history before it closed. Now he’s purchased the 275-acre I-70 Speedway site outside of Odessa, Missouri, with plans of building both a dirt track and a quarter-mile drag strip at the newly named I-70 Motorsports Park.

Right now, there’s grass and bushes in the cracks of the asphalt track, and large trees have grown up right in the grandstand at the finish line.

“You’ve got to see through the trees. You`ve got to see through the vandalism. You’ve got to see through the theft that`s gone on for 10 years, Payne said.

Payne has a track record of redeveloping. He’s revamped Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka and National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio. Payne said the projects have meant millions to the respective cities.

He’s making the change from asphalt to a dirt track to avoid competing with the much larger nearby Kansas Speedway. Instead the half-mile dirt oval will feature monthly Sprint car races while the NHRA sanctioned drag strip will include weekly test and tunes for nostalgic and late-model street cars.

Between the two tracks, the park will have seating for more than 12,000.

“Is this a challenge? Sure it is. I`ve done lots of things like this. It`s kind of what gets me up in the morning and gets me going. There`s nothing but upside out here from where I stand,” Payne said.

Plans are to open the dirt track by spring and the drag strip behind it by summer 2019.