Friday, December 31, 2010
More than 100 photos from the legendary I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. The most awesome race track I've ever been to
I-70 was a Kansas City racing institution. Opened in 1969 by salvage yard owner Bill Roberts, the track proved to be one of the fastest, toughest, most significant venues in the Midwest. For its time, I-70 Speedway was state-of-the-art, with modern concession stands and restrooms, individual boat-type seats in the grandstands, and a VIP suite/media center. Short tracks didn't get much better than this.
This didn't go unnoticed by the drivers that chose to race there. The greatest short track drivers in the country made themselves very familiar with the high-banks, including Dick Trickle, Larry Phillips, Mark Martin, Terry Bivens, and even Bobby Allison. I-70 was a stop for the prestigious ASA late model series several times a year, and the track gained a reputation as a serious stop for the full-bodied stock cars.
Roberts re-took ownership of I-70, and in 1988, reopened the track with the familiar asphalt surface underfoot. The track flourished during this time. In addition to a stellar NASCAR-sanctioned weekly show, several national touring series made I-70 a part of their schedules. ASA races were now on national television. ARCA made a stop at I-70. The American Indycar Series took a turn. Racing semi trucks literally busted through the retaining walls one year.
It was during this time that the brightest spotlight yet was shined on I-70 when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now the Camping World Trucks) made I-70 an annual stop. The truck series made its start on the premiere short tracks around the country, and it was quite an honor to have NASCAR's third-highest series on the historic high banks. One of the most significant events during that time was Tony Raines' 1997 victory in a Dodge Ram Truck. Dodge had recently returned to NASCAR competition after nearly a 20-year hiatus, and it was their first win ever in the truck series. In addition to the regular winnings, Raines was given the keys to a new Dodge street truck that day.
I was a big fan of I-70 Speedway for years, and eventually weaseled my way into the front office. I started writing program articles, which eventually led to the Marketing Director job at I-70 and Lakeside Speedways. Then, in 2000, when Lakeside went from asphalt to dirt, I was given the General Manager position at I-70.
Just as I-70 Speedway was experiencing some of the strongest success in memory, it was again sold to a new local owner. My job went to him. Despite a litany of changes, the track's popularity deteriorated, and it was closed down after the 2008 season. It now sits in an ever-increasing state of disrepair, looking for new ownership.
I scanned more than 100 pictures from my collection for your enjoyment. Some of them are probably from an unusual perspective, because even though I have some of the obligatory racing/action shots, I also have a lot from the position of "marketing guy". So you'll see the pace car making a bunch of appearances, billboard and signage shots, and the like. That's just what I was doing, so those are the pictures I have.
Click on the balloon in the bottom left corner of the pictures if you would like to read the captions.