MACON – Bob Sargent is ready for twice the fun this season, when the Macon Speedway promoter also takes control of Lincoln Speedway for some doubleheader dirt track action.
On the other hand, he realized the challenge is twice the work.
“This weekend kicks off a bright future for years to come,’’ Sargent said. “This weekend will be the start of something great for the long term.’’
Today, Sargent and his speedway crew head back to the dirt with the season opener at Lincoln Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track located on the Logan County Fairgrounds. On Saturday, Macon Speedway opens for the 71st season on the fifth-mile high-banked dirt oval.
While Sargent hasn’t regularly scheduled a season of weekend doubleheaders since leasing Paducah International Raceway two years ago, he’s back to what he loves best. Sargent isn’t happy unless he’s working at the race track.
The lure of doing double duty is the possibility of building the car count and fan count at the local racetracks. By allowing two tracks to work in tandem, Sargent predicted the local dirt track scene will benefit from better scheduling, stronger rules and growing point funds.
By reducing the scheduling conflicts between the two area tracks, combining promotion efforts, actively following rules of the sanctioning bodies and running crisp programs, more drivers will race at the area tracks and drive more fans into the stands, Sargent said.
“We think bringing cohesiveness to the area will benefit everybody,’’ Sargent said. “It doubles our workload. There are some things that flow together. But it’s two different animals. There’s very little overlap.’’
Sargent’s sidekicks, Adam Mackey and Drake Nelson, will serve both as Macon Speedway managers and promoters at Lincoln Speedway. Macon Speedway still under joint ownership with Sargent, Tony Stewart, Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace.
“It’s a lot for us,’’ Sargent said. “It’s designed for Drake and Adam to do it all.’’
Don’t expect for a minute that Sargent will loosen his grip on Central Illinois dirt track racing. He’s the most influential man on dirt, and his ability to successfully run Macon Speedway while other tracks have floundered is a testament to his business savvy.
Mackey and Nelson, who arrived last season, are youngsters who have shown potential to help Sargent long term. That’s why he’s undertaken such a challenge.
Race officials from Macon and Lincoln will handle the duties at Lincoln. Macon Speedway has a battalion of workers who return every season.
During the season-opening doubleheader, a point fund will reward the top three drivers in points in the feature races in the Pro Late Model Class introduced to Macon Speedway last season. Pro Late Models will qualify for the first time at Lincoln Speedway, so drivers are already anxious to set the track record.
Pro Late Models allow drivers to compete in a cost containment class. At Lincoln Speedway, Sargent will introduce the DII Nutech Seed Midget class, which is also designed to keep costs down while allowing for competitive racing.
“We think this could grow into a competitive class with a big car count just like Pro Late Models did last year,’’ Sargent said.
Lincoln Speedway will run the DII class as a regular series. A season highlight at Lincoln Speedway is the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champion sprint car series operated by Stewart. The tour hits Lincoln Speedway on May 20.
Macon Speedway sticks with its regular classes, concentrating more on stock car racing. The Lucas Late Model Series returns on April 30. Both Macon and Lincoln will host Summer Nationals dates (Lincoln’s date is July 3) and stops on the Illinois Midget Week with POWRi.