Kingsport Speedway announced tonight at their season-ending awards banquet that Ervin and Keith Stiltner plan to purchase the 0.375-mile concrete oval from current owner Joe Loven.
The father-son businessmen have a deep connection to short track racing. The two leased Lonesome Pine Raceway from 2007 through 2017 and Ervin Stiltner was part owner in the United Auto Racing Association. Since 2014, the Stiltners have leased Kingsport Speedway.
“We couldn’t be happier to take the reins at Kingsport,” said Ervin Stiltner. “We’ve seen great support from the competitors, fans, sponsors and local community since we started leasing the track in 2014.”
“We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to waving the green flag on 2019 and beyond.”
Keith Stiltner, along with his son Ryan and daughter Emma, have been active racers at Kingsport and other tracks throughout the region. Keith was the 1997 and 1998 track champion at Kingsport.
“Our family has been in racing for many years,” added Stiltner. “And we don’t plan to stop that anytime soon.”
Kingsport Speedway opened in 1965 as a high-banked dirt track. The track was converted to asphalt in the spring of 1969, and then in 1984 converted back to asphalt. The track hosted many prestigious events, including NASCAR Grand National events and the likes of Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Harry Gant, Jimmy Hensley and many others.
Joe Loven – who owned Loven Ready Mix – purchased Kingsport Speedway in the early 1990s. Loven, who had a part in putting down the first concrete surface at Bristol Motor Speedway, is the one who decided to transform Kingsport to its current concrete surface.
Loven has a deep history in racing in the region and also owns Volunteer Speedway, a 0.4-mile high-banked dirt track in Bulls Gap, TN. Loven says he’s glad to see Kingsport transforming into a new chapter.
“Kingsport is going to be in great hands,” said Loven. “Ervin and Keith love short track racing and that’s what I want to see for the place – people who love racing in control of it. The place has a lot of history and I know it will continue to make more.”
“I look forward to seeing Kingsport continue to succeed with the Stiltners,” added Loven. “That racetrack will always be near and dear to me.”
Kingsport’s resurgence came in 2009 when the track hosted a Late Model Stock Car touring series event that was sanctioned by the United Auto Racing Association. The track had been dormant since 2002 up to that point, but after the checkered flag waved on that event, the track was back in the spotlight.
In 2011, former NASCAR driver Robert Pressley reopened the track and brought the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner to the track. After Pressley went on to pursue other business ventures at the end of 2013, Ervin Stiltner stepped in.
Karen Tunnell, the track’s current general manager and promoter, has been at Kingsport since it reopened in 2011. Tunnell will continue to lead the track.
“It’s a way to give back to the community and keep grassroots racing alive and well,” said Tunnell. “This is the day we’ve all been waiting for.
“There are many great things to come at Kingsport, and Ervin and Keith purchasing it is the next step.”
Tunnell says the Stiltners are already looking into opportunities for the facility.
“There are a lot of possibilities that Ervin and Keith are looking at now that they own the facility – concerts, derbies, destruction shows and much more,” added Tunnell. “They’re also looking to reopen the eighth-mile asphalt go-kart track that is located at the facility.”