By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Dust off the fold-away chairs and bleacher blankets because a new season of dirt is ready to get thrown in the air like confetti for the opening of the 2007 race season at Texas Thunder Speedway tonight at 8 p.m.
Track owner and operator Pat Wilson said last year's start was "fantastic" but the season dwindled from there with the Fort Hood deployments.
"The middle of the season was fine but September wasn't real great," Wilson said. "We did have a record night for the demolition derby, so it was a good season. This year will be better. The phone has been ringing a lot with fans that are asking a lot questions."
Gates open at 6 p.m. and the green flag drops after the national anthem at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $10, children ages 6-12 are $3 and children under 5 get in free. Pit admission is $25.
The new season starts at the gate. TTS is one of few race tracks that now accept credit cards for general admission tickets. Wilson said he knows of only one other dirt track where that is available: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
"Ninety percent of people walk around with either a debit or check card," Wilson said. "They don't write checks anymore. It does cost (the track), but I think I'll recoup the expense."
Wilson said he hasn't added the convenience to the pit window and the bar but only because there are no phone lines installed at those locations. But, he said, he'll "probably get there."
Just inside the gate, racing fans will also notice the souped-up souvenir shop.
"We bought out the NASCAR store in Copperas Cove, so the souvenir stand is going to be packed full of NASCAR stuff." Wilson said.
Wilson is also in the process of adding new events and attractions to the race schedules. This year there will be a Gauntlet Race that Wilson said is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
"Basically, we're going to have a school bus or an RV driving around the track with a bunch of bad guys trying to take them out before a set number of laps. If the bad guys knock him out before he's finished his laps, then they get the prize money, but if they don't, the good guy gets it," Wilson said.
Wilson said he's also working on bringing in a demolition race and will also look to help bring back the Iron Head Wing Modifieds from Texas racing extinction.
"It kind of looks like a sprint car, but not really. It's longer." Wilson said of the Iron Head car. "If you didn't know what a sprint car looked like, you might call it that, but it isn't."
This season marks Wilson's 12th with the speedway; an oddity because most track promoters are only in the business about five years, he said.
"I enjoy it. Sometimes the money's good, sometimes it's not. The thing about doing a racetrack is it's a whole lot of freedom," Wilson said.
He added that the track is only open for one night of the week and business is usually pretty slow during the offseason. But for the last two weeks, he said there's been nothing slow about it and nothing looks to slow down for at least a few more weeks.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.