SHENANDOAH, VA :: Shenandoah Speedway has a unique opportunity to stand out to Northern Virginia race fans and drivers after Old Dominion Speedway closed its gates permanently at the end of the 2012 season. Shenandoah Speedway’s new track manager, Joey Karnes, is hoping to make lemonade out of lemons.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the new season so far,” Karnes said. “We’re excited about the year and opening up with the oval track. With Old Dominion shutting down, we’re getting a lot of response with the car count but we can’t count anything until they pull in to the track. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback and cars testing and that sort of thing. We’re hoping for a good turnout Saturday.”
Karnes said car counts are something Shenandoah has struggled with in the past but hopes will improve now with the circumstances surrounding Old Dominion Speedway. One reason Shenandoah has struggled is a result of Shenandoah not being NASCAR sanctioned. They attempted to get NASCAR sanctioning during the offseason but was unsuccessful.
“We’ve had very low car counts but, with Old Dominion shutting down, we’re expecting a boost,” Karnes remarked. “I’m expecting a few more Legends cars as well.”
One thing Karnes has done is begin utilizing social media to promote events, something Shenandoah Speedway has never done until this year. Karnes, who said he is a frequent reader of RACE22.com, said he felt the track needed to utilize social media after reading an op-ed on the site that said the track needed to embrace Facebook and Twitter.
“I do have a Facebook page up now,” Karnes explained. “I’ve got another deal with a local radio station to help boost us, 98 Rock out of Harrisonburg. He just posted the SuperCar Series cars testing up there. They’re going to be promoting for us big time. We’re up to 200 followers on Facebook now. After your article, I got with the owner and decided we better do something a little different and see if we can get stuff opened up. He wants to see the track prosper as well.”
Karnes is planning more events for 2013 and more cars. Karnes has made moves such as moving the Memorial Day race back to Saturday night. The race has historically been held on Memorial Day, a day that is usually greeted by extremely hot temperatures in the region. If held on Sunday night, the race would conflict directly with the Vernon Harris Memorial at Potomac Speedway in Maryland – one of the most prestigious races in all of motorsports in the Baltimore-Washington region.
“We hate to see ODS shut down but we’re welcoming everybody in who wants to race with us,” Karnes commented. “The Memorial Day Weekend race will be on Saturday this year. With the temperatures that day, we decided to move it back to Saturday night. We have the Virginia Sprint Series, USAC Big Knight Series, and Super Cup Stock Car Series will run on April 20th as well. It’ll be a busy night on April 20th.”
Karnes is hoping for a successful first year at Shenandoah.
“This is my first year here. I’ve always been around the sport, I grew up around it. My father helped with dirt racecars. We’re definitely excited about the year. I just want to see car counts back up at a regular pace where the fans can come out and see 10 or more cars a night in each class. I’m hoping for great racing and to see fans support the drivers and the track. Unfortunately, Old Dominion is shutting down but we hope to take advantage and keep the coming here. We’ll see what happens with Dominion Raceway next year. We just want to have a great year this year. his is my first year promoting the track, it’s a pretty big deal to us.”
Shenandoah Speedway’s season opener will be on Saturday, April 13th.