Buena Vista Raceway muddles through rain for an opening night

Friday, May 31, 2019

With a new season on the way, racers can’t wait to get on the track at Buena Vista Raceway. The only thing stopping them so far is the rain.

The first two events on the calendar, scheduled each of the last two Wednesdays, have been cancelled due to uncooperative weather, leaving nine events left for the season. Only one night was rained out last season.

“When you lose a night, it’s tough, especially opening night,” said Joey Ciechanowski, manager of the raceway. “We’re hoping things rebound and want to kick it off with a bang.”

The ideal circumstances are drier, he said, with a bit of rain Tuesday night to save money on Wednesday’s water bill. The raceway typically uses 40,000 to 60,000 gallons of water to wet down the track for racing to ensure dust isn’t getting in the faces of drivers or fans.

“We like to control the water. Mother nature doesn’t allow us to turn it off,” he said. Though some ground moisture is desirable to give traction and keep dust down, excessive moisture poses problems.

“It’s a science,” Ciechanowski said.

The work is never done in keeping the facility up, with significant work going into ramping up before the summer. Upkeep from winter wear, grading the track and adding new maintenance dirt are at the top of the list.

“Getting the track in racing condition requires a lot of time and diesel fuel to smooth it out,” the manager said. “We have a whole arsenal of dirt-working equipment required.”

But the manager is encouraged, with trends showing increased attendance and car counts last year as the track maintains goals to improve and take advantage of its niche Wednesday night events. As other raceways split up Friday and Saturday crowds for competing events, BV Raceway can continue to enjoy undistracted attendance.

An average of 750 attended the nightly grandstands last year, an increase of approximately 50 from the year before. Car count last year was about 70, up about 10 from 2017.

Ciechanowski anticipates a bigger year for 2019, hitting higher marks, including 130 cars for the Sprint Car Race, which should be bigger than last year’s.

This year brings the DirtKnights, a televised race series, back again for the second year, cementing its comeback for younger generations of racers and fans.

“We’re always trying to bring newer and exciting things,” he said.

This year there are more chances for the kids to get involved with their parents, too, to create a new generation of fans. Nickel tosses, bus track tours and bike races will excite both kids and parents.

In bus tours, kids can ride around the track for a different perspective. A “school bus” category has also been added to races for more excitement.

The King of the Hill Races, being brought back August 7, will offer a one versus one bracket format to select winners for the hobby stock and stock car classes.

The raceway has completed track improvements and worked on guardrails and the speaker system, as well as concessions in the facility. The only thing they need now is an opening night crowd.

Ciechanowski thanks loyal supporters of the raceway and asks them to shop local and support businesses that support the track, “because without them we wouldn’t have one.”

“There’s a lot of talk now in the racing community about how last year went—those are positive things,” he said. “We achieved a lot of that, but we’re always working towards a new attitude and providing fun, family entertainment.”

Weather forecasts will allow for more prep work to be done on the track later this week, with an opening on Wednesday. No matter the opening night, he says that job is one that’s never done.

Pit passes are available for $25.