KERENS -- After opening its doors only twice in the first three months of the 2000 season, Corridor H Speedway was sold to a new ownership group.
The dirt track, located just north of Elkins, has experienced a steady decline over the past couple of years that has led to dwindling car courts and fan support. The new owners, Grafton's Rich Regar and Elkins' D.J. Miller, Kevin Rexrode3 and Chuck Gear, cleaned up the grounds and did a little general maintenance around the facility as their first order of business.
Then they reopened Corridor H Speedway on July 1.
The reopening was met with rave reviews from the drivers and fans who flocked to the track. After racing was completed last Saturday, the track treated the fans to a 45-minute holiday fireworks display.
"I can see that they've been working on the track all week," Clarksburg Late Model driver Robbie Scott said. "You know, it's only been a couple of days since they've had the track, but you can see where they've really made some improvements."
"It's going to be good. ... It's going to be real good," Webster Springs Late Model driver Kevin Hamrick said. "You can already see what they've done -- here in the pits, just as soon as you pull in. The grass mowed, the track looks good and they fixed the water truck. I noticed that the first thing when we pulled in."
Miller, Rexroad and Gear have always been good friends. When Miller began competing in the 4 Cylinder class, Rexrode and Gear hung out with him at the races. They had been bouncing around the idea of building a new track when Corridor H Speedway owner Keith Hamner offered to sell the track to them.
"Keith called (Miller) and asked him if we'd be interested," Rexrode said. "We sat down and talked to him, and it just went from there."
"This place has not been managed properly, so we decided we were going to jump into it and change it," Miller said. "We feel like we have something to prove. We're going to have the best race track in the state."
New lights, a wider racing surface and a proposed motocross track are among the changes being looked at by the new management for the future.
"First of all, we're just planning on cleaning up the place, running the show on time and making sure that everyone gets paid what they're supposed to get paid in each class," Miller said. "Right now, we're planning on paying $1,000 (to win) in Late Models, but we're looking at moving that up to $1,200 to $1,500 and we're going to try and pay better back through the field in each class."
In other classes, the UMPs will battle for $400 to win each week, while the other two classes will race for $200 to win each week.
Corridor H Speedway first opened on June 15, 1952, as Elkins Speedway. Harold C. Herring and George Trussler were the original owners. Monty Ward was the first feature winner, winning the Sportsman Coupe event. In 1954, Lee Petty won the first NASCAR Grand National race held in West Virginia on the Elkins track. The track closed, though, in 1954 when one of the promoters died. It sat idle until May 30, 1967 when Lewis Earl Scott and Keith Hamner took control of the facility. The track has been open ever since despite its 10 different promoters over the last 15 years.
Late Models, UMP Modifieds, Pure Stocks and 4 Cylinders are the divisions currently raced at the track each Saturday. The restart of Corridor H's season brought 72 drivers to the track, and Clarksburg's Paul Wilmoth Jr. won the $2,500 to win Late Model feature.
"Personally, I think this is one of the best tracks in the state," Hamrick said. "There's just been too many ownership changes, and the stuff like that over the years. Back in the early '50s, my dad used to race here, and I've always liked this track."