With a ‘to-do list’ seemingly longer than the half-mile racing surface at Gresham Motorsports Park, Dan Elliott and the speedway’s new management team have their work cut out for them in refurbishing the former Peach State Speedway.
“We’ve done extremely well to accomplish the things we have in the time we’ve done it in,” stated Elliott, the General Manager of the Jefferson, GA racetrack. “We’ve got most of the demolition we can do done and we’re waiting the permits to get finalized. It’s kind of like a rain delay in racing. You’re waiting for the race to start and you can’t wait to get in and get it done. The timing is right. The weather is going to open up here in the next month and it’s going to be nice. The permits will get done soon and we’ll drop the green flag on the construction and things will start getting done pretty quickly.”
Once completed, the 40-year-old racetrack will hardly resemble the historic, but timeworn, former Peach State oval. According to Elliott, the new track will have a multitude of renovations including a new racing surface, fencing and retaining walls for the half-mile oval with the start/finish line flipped to the old back straight, a fresh aluminum grandstand (left), a lowered infield for better sight lines, a quarter-mile Legends track on infield, renovated restrooms and new concession areas and trackside parking.
“The new surface means the racing is going to be faster,” said Elliott. “That’s pretty impressive considering the track was very fast even though it was pretty worn out. A lot of drivers will want to come and race here because it’s a fast track. We’re going to bring in some of the best racing the fans in this area have seen beginning with the World Crown this fall and a full schedule of special events in 2010. The new quarter-mile track means we’re going to be able to draw more racers than ever and give fans opportunities to see and participate in events.”
The list of things to do took the green flag a little over a month ago with the destruction of the infield buildings (below left), gutting of the old administration building and scoring tower, and the removal of all the old steel guard rail and safety fencing around the track. The additional renovations are expected to be in full swing soon, something Elliott and the rest of the staff at GMP are looking forward to considering the short time window for completion of the project.
“We certainly have a set time to be done by – the 26th-Annual World Crown 300 November 12-15 – but I would really love to be open in September or October for testing,” said Elliott. “We need time to let the surface cure and let the teams come in and test. We’re talking about a lot more than a facelift here. It’s going to be a new track and a whole new facility. It’s going to be something pretty special, a real showplace, when it’s completed.”
According to Elliott, the total facility renovation will benefit racers, fans of the sport, and the surrounding community residents when completed later this year.
“We feel like involvement in the community is a necessity,” said Elliott. “While racing is what we are all about, we want to have a place where the community can come and stage activities. There are so many activities you can do here because we’ll be a multi-purpose venue, so we can have events like car shows and concerts along with community events like Flea Markets and Regional Craft and Art Shows. We want to develop as many relationships locally as we can and a great way to do that is through community and area involvement.
“You really have to give a lot of credit to Jim and Tony Gresham and to Gene Roberts for having the vision as to what this place can be,” Elliott concluded with a tip of the hat to the facility’s new owners. “To come in and make the financial commitment to make the new Gresham Motorsports Park a showplace is really something, especially in these economic times. It’s something that has been needed for decades and when it’s done, it’s going to serve racers, fans and the residents of Jackson County and all of Georgia for decades to come.”