By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Stock and modified race cars flying around a dirt track kick up enough dust and entertainment that Texas Thunder Speedway owner and operator Patrick Wilson didn't change much of last year's race schedule. When the Speedway opens the 2008 season tonight with an 8 p.m. green flag, Wilson just hopes Mother Nature cooperates with the quarter-mile oval track's inherent atmosphere.
Wilson and TTS had to scratch nearly a dozen Saturday nights from last year's 30-week schedule last year due to rain or snow.
"We've got the place all cleaned up and are looking forward to an exciting season," Wilson said. "Hopefully, this season will be a little bit dryer, though.
"All of our champions are coming back and our I-Stock champion (Benji Kirkpatrick) will be in (an IMCA) Modified. We're going to have a full field of those."
William "Pat" McGuire held off Keith White and 2006 champion P.J. Egbert for the track's IMCA Modified title. White easily grabbed the IMCA SportMod track title by beating Shad Stevens by nearly 130 points. White is also a two-time national titleholder in the event's three-year history.
Kirkpatrick beat Shad Stevens for the I-Stock title by 64 points.
In addition to the International Motor Contest Association events such as the IMCA Modifieds, Stock Cars and SportsMods are the local classes: Street Stocks, Texas Twisters and Teen Mini-Stocks. And when school lets out for the summer break, Wilson is hoping to add go-karts into the mix and infield.
"We're trying to bring in activities that we didn't get the chance to do last year (because of the weather) ... the fun stuff, the non-racing stuff for the kids ... more kids rides and bicycle races, stuff like that," said Wilson.
TTS opens the season with two weeks of regular race programs before bringing in the first special event on March 22 – an Easter Egg Scramble. Every week after that features a different marquee event outside of the racing program, including the Gauntlet Race and feature appearances by the Wing Modifieds, Southern State Midgets, Brazos Mini Sprint Cars and the Lone Star Dwarf Cars.
There are two nights of the ever-popular demolition derby scheduled for April 19 and July 19 and a demolition race on Aug. 30. The Dr. Danger Stun Show makes an appearance on April 26.
Weather permitting, the speedway will only close on Sept. 6 for the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, and will finish its 2008 season on Sept. 27 with the final points night and employee race.
Weather for tonight's opener will be chilly once the sun sets, but the skies should be dried out after rains on Thursday and Friday.
"I think we'll be fine for Saturday," Wilson said. "Once the sun goes down it's going to be chilly ... but the racing will be hot."
General admission tickets are $10 for adults, and tickets for children 6-12 are $3. Everyone 5 and under gets in free. Pit passes are $25. Tickets can be purchased the day of the race or online at www.texasthunder.com. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the races begin at 8.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.