“Business As Usual” at Peach State As Track Goes Up for Sale by Matt Kentfield
Half-Mile Track to Continue Normal Operations Under Whitmire's Watch
Earlier this week, a classified ad in the Athens Banner-Herald (GA) newspaper widened more than a few sets of eyes in the Georgia racing circles (Click here for story). The listing showing the half-mile Peach State Speedway and the 53-acre facility it sits on for sale made many teams, drivers and fans wonder about the future of the track that is the home facility of the Georgia Asphalt Series and the World Crown 300 Pro Late Model event held each November, as well as several other touring and weekly-division shows throughout the summer.
While the facility is for sale by track owner Paul Kegel, who purchased Peach State in 2006, the facility's lease is held by Vice Whitmire, who is also the track's promoter and the director of the Georgia Asphalt Series. According to Whitmire, fans and racers need not worry about the future of racing at the Jefferson, GA half-mile.
“Even though the track's for sale, it's business as usual here at Peach State,” said Whitmire. “The track's actually been for sale since the end of last year, with Paul (Kegel) thinking that if racing people come along, then it will stay business as usual.
“People have been calling up, saying, 'Are y'all closing down? How about the GAS Series?' All I say is nothing has changed and it's business as usual. I hold the lease for the speedway. My lease is for two years, so if anyone buys the track, my lease will go on and the GAS Series will go on. Racing will still go on and the World Crown will still take place. My lease goes through the end of next year, so things will still go on as usual.”
Racetracks all around the country are feeling the impact of the tough economic times, with high gas prices and inflated costs of just about everything that families need around
The Peach State pits should continue to be a busy place - even if the track is sold.
the house as well as what racers need to get them to the track and compete. Peach State Speedway is no different than any other track suffering through the tough economic climate.
“All of the changes that the previous management of the track wanted to make (re-configuration of the track surface, upgraded facilities around the property) were a dream,” said Whitmire. “They wanted to do all this stuff to try and get Cup teams in here and test and stuff like that. They were going to try and find some investors, but with times being what they are, that didn't materialize.
“Every racetrack in the country is under a strain right now the way the gas prices are right now. With Mom and Dad going to work every day, two cars' worth of gas, it's tough. Head counts are down at tracks all around the country. There's probably 150 tracks that are for sale right now if the right people came around because the times are so tough.”
While the track remains up for sale (the listing price for the entire 53-acre facility is $2.5 million), Whitmire's plans to keep the track active are intact. The next event at Peach State is a Georgia Asphalt Series event on July 3rd. After that event, two more GAS events are to be held at Peach State, along with an ASCS Sprint Car event and an ASA Late Models show, as well as other weekly events before the World Crown Weekend, November 6th through 9th.