Racing zooms back to Bronson Motor Speedway

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By Jenna McKenna

Bronson Motor Speedway is open again, after months of uncertainty. New owner Tony Parker says the speedway opened for the season Saturday March 7, and will be open every Saturday night through September. The actual schedule of events is being finalized even as practices and events go on, but Parker says race fans can reassure themselves, racing is back in Bronson.

Parker, a Levy County commissioner currently under suspension, said he preferred not to discuss his federal indictment, but noted that he hoped those issues would not deter race fans from returning to BMS and enjoying all the track has to offer.

“I was 14 when this track was built, and I raced on it for 14 years myself. I've wanted to run the track for a long time,” he said.

“I was actually in negotiation with (former owner) Mike Cope for a couple of years to buy the speedway; that was my intent for a long time. Then we finally got it done and all this happened. But the track is in my family, and my two sons Wesley and Wade are with me on it. It will carry on no matter what transpires.”

What Parker did want to talk about was the future of racing in Levy County and his plans to turn BMS into much more than just a racetrack.

“The first thing we're going to do is stop selling alcohol and turn this into a more family-friendly place,” he said.

Part of the family-friendly vibe includes adding more events and programs for the younger generation of gearheads, including mud bogging, four-wheelers, go-karts and junior racing divisions. BMS already has the Junior Hornet class to go with the Adult class, but Parker envisions kids clubs with events featuring visiting drivers showing kids around a car, teaching them to drive and finally, letting them out on the track to try it out.

“We can teach them how to race and get them involved, show them how it's done,” he said.

The bigger part of Parker's plan for the speedway is to make it more valuable to the community that supports it.

“I asked myself, 'Why should the track be closed all the time we're not having racing when there's so much else we can do?'” he said.

Parker said he envisions turning the track into a community resource where youth groups, senior groups or other community-minded organizations can request the use of the grounds for fundraising events such as concerts or festivals.

“We could host swap meets too,” he said.

“I want to be an asset to the community, to be able to give back as much or maybe more to the community that supports us.”

Parker is working on updating a 2009 race schedule that, like last year, will feature Limited Sportsmen, Pure Stocks, Super Stocks, Thunder Stocks and Hornets. There will also be front- and rear-wheel drive divisions, with the same rules in 2009 as 2008. As the season progresses, look for Figure 8's, school buses and modifieds to join the lineup.

Pit gates open at noon on Saturdays and grandstands open at 5:30; green flag drops at 7:30 p.m. Thursday practices are from 4-8 p.m. with later hours or other schedules considered based on need. To get an updated schedule visit http://www.bronsonmotorspeedway.com or call 352-486-2763.