MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. — When Cody Watson brought West Virginia Motor Speedway back to life in 2021, he envisioned the facility getting back into the national spotlight like its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s.
The Mineral Wells 5/8 mile clay oval track will do just that on Friday and Saturday as it hosts the national touring Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for the Historic 100 to kick off what is scheduled to be an exciting summer slate.
Watson, the West Virginia Motor Speedway (WVMS) track owner and promoter told MetroNews the top dirt racers in the country such as Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Devin Moran, Tim McCreadie, and Brandon Sheppard will participate.
“We’re excited about this. Our goal was always to make it the showplace in the state of West Virginia for large events, not only locally and regionally but nationwide,” Watson said.
“If we can bring the attention of the entire country of the motorsports industry to West Virginia, we think its good for tourism and everything we’re trying to do here for Wood County.”
It’s the first time since 2013 that the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be at the Mineral Wells facility — that’s the last year the track was open before its miraculous return in 2021.
Watson said the two-day show this weekend will give away $15,000 on Friday and have a $50,000 winner on Saturday night, making it the richest event in WVMS history with a $200,000 total purse.
Just 2 more days until the stars of #LucasDirt take to the monster 5/8th mile for a $15,000 to win program on Fri, June 3rd & a $50,000 to win main event on Sat June 4th.
Will someone sweep the weekend or will 2 different drivers take home victories? pic.twitter.com/NpxotmzH8P
— #LucasDirt ? (@lucasdirt) June 1, 2022
The speedway first opened on May 19, 1985, as the ‘World’s Fastest Dirt Track’ and thrived in the 1990s before dwindling attendance forced its closure after the 2011 season and then again in 2013.
Watson, a native of Paden City, and his team worked around the clock for months leading to WVMS’ reopening in April 2021, with the work garnering national attention from the likes of auto racing greats Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace.
“Our turnouts off the bat were overwhelming, very much well-attended events. Since then, we have struggled through the economy but we still had good support, and we look forward to building on that as we produce a big weekend this weekend,” Watson said.
The track hosted its 37th season opener on April 24 with Late Model races and Mountaineer Nationals on May 14.
On July 2, WVMS hosts Family Fireworks Night for BOSS Sprints and AACS Crates. Watson said that will be one of the first wingless sprint car races in WVMS history.
The racing continues on August 6 with the Mark Balzano Memorial with Late Models, Hotmods, Street Stocks, and Sport Mods. August 27 is scheduled to be the final racing weekend for the summer with the 410 World Race of Champions with FAST Sprints, Steel Block LM Series, and SCDRA.
WVMS is also set to host the Renegade Rebellion Concert on July 9 — which was rescheduled from 2021. Watson said the concert will feature country stars Tracy Lawrence and Lainey Wilson, along with the Davisson Brothers Band.
On September 10, the track will host the Appalachian Food & Auto Fair. It’s all part of the larger picture for Watson, making WVMS a multi-use facility.
He told MetroNews he could see additional concerts, motocross, monster trucks, and event NASCAR sanctioned events in the future. He said he is always reaching out to parties about events as the track continues to improve.
“It’s an exciting time for the track. It’s still a transitional period as we dig it out of the weeds. There’s still some modernization that needs to go on at the facility and things we are working towards. We are just excited to see it open,” Watson said.