ALAMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s hard not to think about NASCAR when you hear about stock car racing. However, starting next year, the Kalamazoo Speedway will be dropping its relationship with the organization.
“We have a great relationship with NASCAR,” said Kalamazoo Speedway owner Gary Howe. “This is the hardest decision I’ve made in 18 years to drop this, and if it were up to me personally, I would not.”
Howe says short track racing isn’t what it used to be.
“(In) the last (several) years, the serious racers, the guys who go to 24 events a year, that’s really fallen off the wayside,” he explained.
In the 1990s, drivers would gladly pay NASCAR a fee each season because they raced in most – if not all – of the races. But last year, out of 400 drivers who raced at the Kalamazoo Speedway, only 33 were there every week.
“They want to race when they want to race; they want to race where they want to race,” Howe said.
For nearly 30 years, Kalamazoo was the only short track NASCAR speedway in the state. Last year, Berlin Raceway became a NASCAR sanctioned speedway.
“In all honesty, we’ll probably pick up a car count,” Howe said of the decision to drop NASCAR.
Once a racer himself, Howe says he used to miss weddings and graduations to make his events.
“In the ‘90s when I raced for track championships, if there are 24 Saturdays that we have points, hell or high water I went to 24 races,” he said.
Many drivers are more casual about racing now.
Kalamazoo Speedway will still have track champions each season. The award money will be less, and NASCAR won’t give out the trophies.
“It’s very sad for me,” Howe admits. “If it was my decision, and if it was my decision from my heart versus my mind, I would still be with NASCAR.”