“See her while you can.” — Baylor Lady Bear basketball coach Kim Mulkey late-season comment on superstar Brittney Griner.
“I guess that fits us, too.” — Texas Thunder Speedway co-announcer Ken Essenburg
“Show me the Money!!!” — Tom Cruise in “Jerry McGuire”
We all knew the news wasn’t going to be good when Texas Thunder Speedway promoter David Goode said the weekly drivers meeting would be held on the front straightaway, with fans, drivers, crewmen and officials all waiting for his first-ever State of the Speedway address.
And, it was not good, except maybe for a small number of people who’ve complained about noise, dust and anything else they could think up.
In fact, it was the worst news our TTS family could have received.
Goode made it official. The property Texas Thunder Speedway sits on, 30 or so acres, has been sold by the people who own it to a developer, who plans to put in some sort of retail situation. My sources tell me that H-E-B turned down the plot in favor of another location and that this developer has a meeting scheduled today with Walmart.
Anyway, David told the assembled crowd he’s 99.9 percent sure that all the i’s will be dotted and the t’s crossed, with the bottom line that Texas Thunder Speedway will be no more after the Aug. 31 races.
Let’s make no mistake about it. The reason this Killeen landmark is going away is not complaints, it’s about greenbacks, geetus, Benjamins, whatever you call that stuff we need to get through life. This money man made the landowners an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Deal done. Race track done.
It’s a sad situation for a lot of drivers, fans, employees and Goode. He’s owned the business, but not the land, for four years and put his heart, soul, body and a ton of that green stuff into it. As for me, I didn’t even like racing, until former promoter Pat Wilson asked me to try my hand at announcing out there, and it only took one night to get hooked. That’s right. The guy who complained on Monday mornings that the KDH wasted space on stock car racing instead of baseball, football, etc. was a race fan-atic ... and will always be one.
I also feel for all those folks who have posted on various message boards how they virtually grew up at the track, like Mike McDougal, who said he could remember playing with his Tonka trucks in the dirt, before the bleacher walkway gained asphalt. McDougal is now one of the premier IMCA Southern SportMod drivers at TTS.
This is a great loss for racing and for Killeen. Will Goode, who made so many great improvements and gave our drivers the best racing surface in Texas, rebuild somewhere else? We can only hope.
Now, the results from Saturday night:
Street Stocks: Benny Fajkus rolled his No. 16 and went into the side of Kelvin Harper, banging both cars up pretty good. After surveying the damage, they shook hands and waved at the crowd, with Fajkus even climbing out of his wrecked machine and giving the fans a Kyle Busch-like bow.
By lap nine, Gary Norman had taken the lead. Even another caution couldn’t slow him down, as the old pro notched his latest win.
IMCA Stock Cars: The doom and gloom of TTS’s imminent closing was lifted somewhat when Tristan Carman held off the pursuers behind him and the top-ranked IMCA rookie posted his first win in a sanctioned class and it came on the birthday of his dad, Tim Carman Jr. Not a bad present for Pop.
Outlaw Twisters: Chris Bruner jumped out to a quick lead and built on it to score a runaway victory.
IMCA Hobby Stocks: When it comes to racing, this was the best of the night, especially with six of the top 10 cars in the nation on the track at once. It boiled down to No. 1-ranked Jeremy Oliver and second-place Andy Roller running side by side, with nary a touch between them, for 10 laps. It was a heartstopper out of the final turn, with Roller winning by a car length.
Texas Twisters: Brian Bagent ran away with it for his second straight win.
IMCA Southern SportMods: After an early mashup, which ended race leader Zach Riley’s night, Kenny Ware and Sid Kiphen passed point man Jarrett Roberts for a short co-leadership, but Kiphen took over on lap nine. From there, it was a straight shot to Victory Lane.
IMCA Modifieds: Billy Bachmeyer Jr. was running up front, but on lap 16, he was getting pressure from P.J. Egbert. Defending national champion Keith White used an outside move to take the lead, but Egbert, coming up hard, hit White’s left side and the two cars slid down the front straightaway like they were fused together. The incident earned Egbert a disqualification for rough driving. White couldn’t continue, so Bachmeyer was back up front on the restart, where he stayed until the checkered flag waved, ending a wild and crazy night.
The crazy part came from what we were told involved a pair of physical confrontations in the pits. Yes, I heard some names mentioned, but we’ll leave that alone here, to hopefully help those people retain a little self-respect.
As far as the track goes..we’ve got 15 race nights left before this venerable venue, built in 1972, goes dark forever.
See her while you can.