Historic High-Banked Dirt Oval brings Stock Car action back to Crossville, TN (Crossville, TN -- July 17, 2002) The long-awaited return of high-speed racing on the Cumberland Plateau is just weeks away as the one-third mile Crossville...
Historic High-Banked Dirt Oval brings Stock Car action back to Crossville, TN
(Crossville, TN -- July 17, 2002) The long-awaited return of high-speed racing on the Cumberland Plateau is just weeks away as the one-third mile Crossville Speedway prepares to reopen on U.S. Highway 70 West in Crossville. The dirt track which has hosted numerous major nationally sanctioned dirt races is ready to open its gates on the first weekend of August with Friday night racing slated to occur through the month of September. Fans and competitors can stay abreast of activities, schedule and other particulars of Crossville Speedway by visiting www.victorylanecommunications.com and www.atomicmotorspeedway.com.
The initial plans for the reopening of Crossville Speedway will see racing in the Late Model, Open-Wheel Modified and 4-Cylinder divisions begin on Friday night, August 2nd with a continuation of racing and entertainment events scheduled to be conducted through September and possibly in to the fall. The majority of events will be conducted on Friday nights, with the exception of a special Super Late Model event scheduled for Sunday, August 25th which will pay $5,000.00 to the winner and another major national Super Late Model two-day event slated for Friday and Saturday, September 21-22.
The racing and entertainment complex will be under management of a group of investors from both the Knoxville, TN and Atlanta, GA areas including short-track racing promoter and publicity veteran Ozzie Altman of Victory Lane Communications, Inc. in Atlanta. Altman, one of the most well-known national announcers and broadcasters in the short-track racing industry is the former public relations director and series announcer for the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, today known as the United Dirt Track Racing Association (UDTRA) and has served as the media and publicity manager for numerous high-profile short track racers across the country. In addition, Altman has also worked with other sanctioning bodies, tracks and ownership groups involved with short track racing, both dirt and asphalt, including a recent stint as the Promotions Manager for the American Speed Association (ASA Racing). Although the emphasis of the entertainment program for Crossville Speedway will center on weekly short track racing in a family oriented environment, Altman and his associates note the possibility of bringing some touring series events and other forms of entertainment to the Crossville, TN venue.
"We are extremely impressed with the growth that has transpired in Crossville and the Cumberland County region during the past five years. It's substantial and a lot larger in population and business development than when I last worked in this area," Altman noted in his most recent visit to the Cumberland Plateau last week. "The last time that I was involved in promoting an event in Crossville was 6 or 7 years ago with Mr. Jimmy Mosteller and his group on the cigar sponsored tour, but this place has really exploded and developed since then and it certainly shows with the large number of national businesses and employees here in Crossville and the surrounding area."
Altman has also been involved with several groups in the music and entertainment industry based in Nashville and points to the potential of other types of family entertainment opportunities aside from the motorsports efforts. The group is also in communication with several national and regional sanctioning bodies for potential special-event dates at Crossville Speedway.
"The people on the Cumberland Plateau and the surrounding region are in a rather unique situation," Altman continued, "They are practically halfway between two major metropolitan areas, Knoxville and Nashville, and the population bases of Crossville and Cookeville alone provide ample opportunity for us to work with numerous forms of business and industry in this region in a cooperative effort. I happened to take a ride by the old track recently while participating in a golf tournament at Fairfield Glades and it took me back a few years to some of the racing history which was created here at Crossville Speedway. What Mr. J. Paul Smith created here in Crossville when he built this racetrack is something that has a history that can be continued into the future. We all know the positive effect that the stock racing craze has created during the past decade and we just feel that the folks here in Cumberland County deserve to be a part of it, from both an entertainment and economic standpoint."
As part of the group several key roles will be filled by some individuals who have been instrumental in the continued positive growth of Atomic Motor Speedway in Knoxville. Among them, Ron Morton of Thunder Media and longtime leader in the television and radio industry in eastern Tennessee and Rick Mount who serves as General Manager of Atomic Motor Speedway.
"Atomic is one of the most respected facilities within NASCAR's Weekly Racing Series and has done a lot for the fans and racers of eastern Tennessee," Altman points out. "With added manpower and more entertainment value our group is looking to continue to grow Atomic as a leader in the industry and duplicate those efforts at Crossville Speedway. We are working with UMP to have them sanction the Open Wheel Modifieds at Crossville and have instituted rules for the late models which will allow the open motor super late models to compete head-to-head with the steel headed limited late model division. We have already had a lot of positive reaction from area businesses who want to get involved with the racing and entertainment program at Crossville Speedway and we are very appreciative of their enthusiasm."
A Look Back at the History of Crossville Speedway
Through the years of Crossville Speedway's history many of the top-rated drivers in the nation have sped around the lightning fast dirt oval with some of the best in the business finding their way to victory lane at Crossville. During previous sanctioned events by the Southern All-Stars (SAS) and former Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series (HAT), Jeff Purvis, Ronnie Johnson, Freddy Smith, Mike Head and Billy Moyer have all roared to wins at Crossville.
Purvis, a native of Clarksville, TN and former national champion of dirt late model racing in NDRA and USAC competition who has taken his career to success on NASCAR's Busch Grand National and Winston Cup tours, scored SAS victories at Crossville Speedway in May, 1987 and again in July, 1988. Purvis claimed the SAS title in 1986.
The first major national event at Crossville Speedway was won by Ronnie Johnson in October 1987. Johnson a former 2-time Dirt Track World Champion from Chattanooga and known throughout racing circles as the Chattanooga Flash is just one of many dirt track veterans who attest to the excitement and racing action which Crossville Speedway has seen over the years.
"Crossville Speedway is a track that really gives the racers a chance to put on a great show for the fans," notes Johnson, who is also a former 3-time Southern All-Stars (1985, 1987 and 1988) and 2-Time Tennessee Dirt Track Champion. "It's a multi-groove track that allows for three-wide racing and it really gets your heart pumping when you speed around that place in eleven or twelve seconds each lap racing door to door with guys on the inside and outside of you. I'm looking forward to having a chance to race at Crossville again," Johnson said with anticipation, "With the group behind Crossville, it will be fun to go there, just like Atomic."
Another pair of dirt late model veterans who have won big-money events at Crossville Speedway are Freddy Smith and Mike Head. Smith and Head have combined for nearly two-thousand feature victories during the past three decades, among them are Head's June, 1991 Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series win at Crossville and Smith's June, 1995 victory on the former national tour which was sponsored by the Hav-A-Tampa / Phillies Cigar Company. Head, from Ellenwood, GA and known as one of the toughest competitors to ever test America's dirt racing ovals captured the SAS crown in 1991 and lists Crossville Speedway as one of his favorite all-time racetracks.
Smith, originally from Kings Mountain, NC has resided in Knoxville, TN for the past half-dozen years has been a major force in stock car racing since the early 70's. Known by multitudes of short-track racing fans as The Southern Gentleman, Smith claimed the national championship of dirt late model racing on the Hav-A-Tampa Series in 1996 and is the only driver in history to score 5 titles in the Dirt Track World Championship in addition to being the only two-time winner of the Dirt Late Model DREAM which pays the winner $100,000. Like Head and Johnson, Smith notes the excitement that Crossville Speedway provides for fans and drivers alike.
"You have to be ready to do some close quarter racing when you unload at Crossville," grins the veteran Smith. "It's not a place you can race without a little beating and banging, it gets tough at Crossville and it is one of the fastest tracks that we've raced on and the fans really get their monies worth when they see a race there."
Billy Ogle, Jr. of Knoxville knows a lot about the testy third-mile at Crossville. Ogle scored the Crossville Speedway track championship in 1993, one of 13 track titles that Ogle has notched in his belt during his years of racing in his home state of Tennessee. This year Ogle has traveled across the nation in pursuit of success on the United Dirt Track Racing Association touring series. With his winning experiences and track titles at Crossville, Atomic Motor Speedway in Knoxville Ogle is glad to see racing return to Crossville.
"I've had a lot of success at Crossville and I'm really glad to see it reopen," Ogle noted. "The people in Crossville and the area are great fans and I'm sure that they will support the track and get to see some killer racing at Crossville Speedway."