One of racing’s hidden gems sits nestled in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley. The scenic Shenandoah Speedway offers a vista that rivals Lonesome Pine Raceway and racing action that rivals any racetrack.
Last year saw Shenandoah’s rise to relevance. While the track has hosted names like Sergio Pena in the past, last season saw some of the highest car counts the track has ever had. Russell Schmidt, who currently acts as the promoter, general manager, chief marketing officer, announcer and more, says he doesn’t feel he’s owed all the credit for Shenandoah’s rise but he feels he’s been working hard to help.
“We had anywhere from 8-27 Late Models last year on a weekly basis,” Schmidt said. “We had 15+ most nights. We had 14-27 Legends cars. Those were the two biggest classes and this year we’re introducing the Street Stock division which is similar to Southside and Langley with a seven inch Hoosier.”
When asked why Shenandoah saw a steady improvement, Schmidt said it’s not because of him but more because of the fact that the track had someone working to promote it full-time, something he says the track has never had before.
“Jeff Gaughan never had anybody as a marketing director that was full-time,” Schmidt remarked. “I worked there 52 weeks a year. I go to the office once or twice a week. From now to October, it will be twice a week. I’m selling sponsors, race and class sponsors, doing quite a bit. I have an office near the track. The track having full-time help, that’s been part of the difference and I think people in the pits will say the same thing.”
April 24th will see Shenandoah Speedway’s biggest race to date, the Racing for Wishes 150. The race is being promoted by Jeffrey Thielscher of Racing for Wishes. Schmidt says the exposure that race promises to bring to the track will help Shenandoah even more in 2015 in a season he hopes will continue Shenandoah’s ascent.
“One of the things, this race on the 24th, the more we expose people to the track, the more people say it’s the best kept secret in racing. I’ve heard that so many times and when people finally see it from a spectators and drivers view, it’s a two groove Legends track and there aren’t too many tracks that can have two grooves. The Legends get along with it.”
Schmidt says he’s anticipating even better car counts in 2015 in every division and says he’s had more calls this offseason about drivers wanting to run the track.
Another thing that has helped Shenandoah is the closure of Old Dominion Speedway and the subsequent delays in the construction of Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Virginia. The track was originally scheduled to open this spring but a handful of setbacks have pushed it back to later this fall, at the earliest.
“A lot of the people that used to run at Old Dominion run with us now,” Schmidt explained. “When that track finally does open, people will try it, mostly because it’s. People always want to try something new. They’ll make a decision on what track they want to race at and the closer it is to home, the more they’ll want to go. We don’t have many drivers near the racetrack. Our drivers are an hour or two away.”
The mountains of the Shenandoah Valley will roar to life on April 11th when Shenandoah Speedway opens for the 2015 season. The track is located in Shenandoah, Virginia.
2015 Shenandoah Speedway season schedule
April 11th: Late Model Stock Car
April 18th: Late Model Stock Car
April 24th: Racing For Wishes 150
May 9th: Late Model Stock Car
May 23rd: Late Model Stock Car
June 6th: Late Model Stock Car
June 20th: Late Model Stock Car
July 11th: Late Model Stock Car
July 25th: Late Model Stock Car
August 8th: Late Model Stock Car
August 22nd: Late Model Stock Car
September 5th: Late Model Stock Car
September 26th: Late Model Stock Car
October 3rd: Late Model Stock Car
October 10th: Late Model Stock Car