Area Near Southern National Is Hit Hard by Overnight Storms By Mike Twist and Jason Buckley
Kenly is Devasted By Tornado and Storms
UPDATE: Just before 3:00pm on Saturday, Speed51.com received a call from Del Richards, owner of Southern National Raceway Park. Despite the extensive damage, Richards says the show must go on, starting with this Sunday's practice (Nov. 16th) and the Thanksgiving Classic, scheduled for November 29th – 30th.
"I have four different general contractors here, I've got my insurance crew here, I've got two structural engineers here and I've got the building inspectors here," said Richards. "The track is clean and ready for practice tomorrow.
"Musco will be here Monday to take care of the lights. The damage isn't all visible. From audio to electrical, we haven't found it all, but we will get through it. It is a bunch."
Damage, in many cases, can be measured by a dollar figure. Richards estimates early damage totals to be significant, but it isn't going to keep the Thanksgiving Classic from being one of the biggest shows in November.
"I am hesitant to say, but we have over a millon dollars of damage, but we are going to run the Thanksgiving Classic."
(original story follows)
A natural disaster has struck the community around a short track hard again as a band of storms and tornados hit the Kenly, North Carolina area early Saturday at approximately 3:30am. The Associated Press is reporting, as of Saturday morning, two deaths and at least one person missing in this area of North Carolina.
Southern National Raceway Park is located in Kenly. A 100-lap Late Model Stock Car event was scheduled at the track this weekend, but it was cancelled on Friday morning, before worst of the storms came through, due to weather. This move likely kept many race haulers and motorhomes out of the area when the storms hit less than 24 hours later.
WRAL.com reports that currently access to the area is limited.
“Emergency crews have blocked off all access to Kenly and turned away a WRAL News crew. Heavy equipment was seen going into the town. Roads, including N.C. Highway 222 and Scott and Bridgers roads, have been closed to all but residents,” states part of the television station's news report.
Video footage from the WRAL Sky 5 helicopter shows complete devastation of the area, with several houses and mobile homes destroyed and large trees uprooted. Rescue workers in fire trucks, four-wheel drive trucks and a Bobcat utility vehicle can be seen assisting those in the area. No footage of the racetrack is a part of the 17-minute long video posted on the WRAL website.
A weather log on the Charlotte Observer's website listed this entry:
“3:10 a.m. -- Tornado, with one fatality and a number of injuries, in Kenly, near Scott Road and Bridgers Road. Cars overturned, and at least 10 homes severely damaged or destroyed.”
WRAL has reported that damage to the Kenly town center is limited, but most of the destruction occured east of the town in the Scott Road/Bridgers Road/US 222 corridor. A reporter for the station described that area as the storm's "ground zero". The track is approximately two miles northeast of the Scott Road/Bridgers Road intersection.
Power outages are also being reported throughout the area.
Speed51.com's call to track owner Del Richards has gone unanswered on Saturday morning, although we are sure that at this time, he is probably very busy assessing the situation and unavailable for comment. A posting on the message board Racerap.com indicates that there is severe damage, including roof damage, to the track and that help will be needed with the clean-up activities.
Southern National Raceway Park is scheduled to host the Thanksgiving Classic, which will feature a 150-lap Super Late Model race, 200-lap LMSC race and Legends car racing,on November 28th-30th.
In years past, storms, floods and wildfires have hit some areas near short tracks such as New Smyrna Speedway (FL), South Alabama Speedway and Mansfield Motorsports Park (OH), especially hard however in most cases, major damage has been spared the tracks themselves. One major exception has been Five Flags Speedway, home in the Snowball Derby, in Pensacola, Florida. That track received extensive hurricane damage earlier this decade. Mobile International Speedway also received extensive damage, from Hurricane Katrina, in 2005.
Speed51.com offers our thoughts and prayers to those impacted by these storms and will keep you updated on any developments regarding Southern National Raceway Park.
Southern National has hosted many different types of racing, including the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.