Apr. 9—Kokomo Speedway was gearing up for another huge season last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down the historic dirt track for around two months and canceling five racing events.
But that's not happening this year.
This year, the speedway is opening even earlier than usual to jump start its 74th racing season that will bring 16 nights of high-octane entertainment, including a first-ever monster truck show.
The season kicks off tonight with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series that's known for its unpredictability and intense racing.
Reece O'Connor, vice president of the Kokomo Speedway, said he's already received calls from people planning to come to the race from places as far away as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska.
"When we first scheduled this, I wasn't really excited because there was 2 feet of snow on the ground," he said. " ... Now, I'm really excited, especially because we're starting out with World of Outlaws. It's going to be a big event."
Rob Goodman, longtime track announcer at the speedway, said that after a late start to last year's season, it feels good to know this year should bring a full schedule for fans of the track.
"We're getting back to a more traditional early season start," he said. "I think everyone's a little more optimistic for a better race season, and we enjoy the ability to bring these events to the community."
Tonight's season kick-off will be followed by two days of midget racing, which will also be held in May.
That leads up to a new event on June 5 from the Renegade Monster Truck Tour, where a host of amped-up trucks will perform tricks, jump cars and put on a show for the entire family, including a fun zone and track party for kids.
The rest of the season offers the speedway's most popular races, including Indiana Midget Week and the Sprint Car Smackdown, a three-day racing extravaganza that last year brought in people from over 30 states.
O'Conner said this season's docket will bring back all the events longtime patrons have come to love. And after a start-and-go season last year, he's ready to have the track firing on all cylinders for tonight's opener.
"I think people are pumped up and excited, and we're ready to kick things off," he said.
Goodman agreed. He said that after 74 years in operation, Kokomo Speedway has become a legendary track that has created a tight-knit group of fans. Now, he's ready to give those fans something to cheer about.
"We're all excited to get back to racing," he said. "It's grown to almost feel like a family atmosphere, so I'm looking forward to seeing people you don't see during the off season."
Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, email@example.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.