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Start Your Engines

Take Roads Less Traveled

Start Your Engines

Big-time auto racing has returned to Kentucky with the birth of Kentucky Speedway. The 1.5-mile racetrack was built on 1,000 acres of land right off Interstate 71 at exit 57 and opened for business in northern Kentucky near Sparta.

?The region was thirsting for a track of this magnitude and we delivered in 2000,? Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice Presi-dent/General Manager Mark Cassis says.

NASCAR?s youngest national touring division, the Craftsman Truck Series that was created in 1995, visited Kentucky regularly via Louisville Motor Speedway prior to the creation of Kentucky Speedway; however NASCAR?s second most prestigious division, the Busch Series, hadn?t visited the Bluegrass since 1989 when it ran its last race in Louisville.

When Jerry Carroll, then owner of Louisville Motor Speedway, opened Kentucky Speedway in 2000, he brought the Craftsman Truck Series to Sparta with him to compete during the track?s opening weekend. It has since returned to the track yearly. He also got the Busch Series to return to the state on a yearly basis, beginning in 2001.

While NASCAR was making somewhat of a return to Kentucky, Carroll brought premier open-wheel racing to the area for the first time. The stars of the Indy Racing League visited Kentucky for the first time in 2000 when they visited Kentucky Speedway to compete in the Belterra Casino Indy 300. The open-wheel racers have returned every year since and will return again in 2003.

The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), perhaps the second most popular stock car racing sanctioning body, also makes yearly appearances at the track.

?The facility at Kentucky Speedway is about one of the best tracks that we go to on the ARCA RE/MAX Series,? four-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel of Jeffersonville, Indiana, says. ?They go out of their way to make us feel welcome and the track is equal to many of the NASCAR Winston Cup tracks.?

A Winston Cup race is what Carroll had in mind when construction began on Kentucky Speedway. The Speedway still hasn?t found a slot on the Winston Cup schedule, but with NASCAR making the announcement that changes will be made to the current schedule in 2004, hopes have returned that the Kentucky Speedway may receive a coveted spot on the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule.

Owensboro native and semi-retired, three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip thinks the track is ready for a Winston Cup race. According to Waltrip, several other tracks trying to get a Winston Cup date promise to make their track acceptable in regard to seating, etc., if they land this race. ?This track is ready now,? Waltrip says.

The facilities that Waltrip believes makes the track ready for big-time Winston Cup racing include 66,089 grandstand seats, 50 luxury suites, 100 private RV spaces behind the backstretch, 200 reserved camping spaces, and 1,000 camping spaces. In addition, the 97-acre infield contains an Outback Steakhouse restaurant, 104 separate, spacious garage stalls, four competitors? lounges, two tire centers, a pedestrian tunnel, a 130-seat infield media center, a 350-seat press conference room, and an infield care center.

Waltrip?s brother, Michael, an active Winston Cup driver, says he would like to run the Winston, NASCAR?s all-star event, at Kentucky Speedway. The event currently takes the green flag at Lowe?s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

Kentucky Speedway has already become a favorite track for many Winston Cup teams to test because of its similarity to several 1.5-mile tracks on the Winston Cup circuit. Test sessions aren?t open to the public, but fans can get a good view of them from the fan center and gift shop right outside the track.

Go to
to see the 2003 racing schedule and Winston Cup test dates.


Kentucky Speedway is located at I-71, Sparta exit 57, north on Highway 35. For general info call (859) 567-3400; for tickets call (888) 652-RACE; or go online to

Driving Schools

Kentucky Speedway offers three driving schools for those who need a more hands-on approach.

  • Jarrett/Favre Driving School
  • Petty Driving Experience
  • Fast Track Driving School

Prices and registration information available from Kentucky Speedway.

Other Racing Venues

Beech Bend Raceway

798 Beech Bend Road, Bowling Green

(270) 781-7634

Central Park Raceway

463 Allen Road, McHenry

(270) 274-9455

Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway

950 Truck Plaza, Calvert City

(270) 395-3600

Kentucky Motor Speedway

8135 Haynes Station Road, Whitesville

(270) 233-5777

Lake Cumberland Speedway

360 Race Track Road, Burnside

(606) 561-8994

London Motor Plex Dragway

I-75 Exit 41, London

(606) 878-8883

Paducah International Raceway

4445 Shemwell Lane, Paducah

(270) 898-7469

Richmond Raceway

328 Greens Crossing, Richmond

(859) 623-9408

Thunder Ridge Racing and Entertainment Complex

164 Thunder Road, Prestonsburg

(606) 886-7223

Amanda Vincent is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.

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Take Roads Less Traveled

Motorists traveling Kentucky 101 will appreciate that the highway is mainly a straight stretch, so it?s easier to drive while soaking in the beauty of the rolling hills and wooded areas in Allen County.

From Interstate 65, take exit 38 to Highway 101 to Smith?s Grove/Scottsville, then on to Scottsville on Highway 68, a south-central Kentucky town of about 4,500 with a county population of 18,000.

?I think that it is a naturally inviting community,? says Mary-Garnett Richey, co-chair of the Scottsville-Allen County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee. ?We do have friendly people. We have a lot of roads that as our brochure says are ?less traveled,? but have so many interesting pieces of our history.?

Perhaps better known as the headquarters to the Dollar General Store chain, Scottsville, located along the historic 31E corridor, is home to Mennonite families who sell farm-fresh produce in warmer months and jams year-round from their community, located between state highways 100, 585, and 1332 on Perrytown, Shores, Squire Lyles, and Old Franklin roads.

No formal signs mark the Mennonite community, but you?ll see the groupings of plain, two-story farmhouses with smaller roadside signs advertising eggs, produce, and jams. The highly religious group, known as the ?Plain People,? first settled in the area in 1977 and live without electricity, telephones, or gasoline-powered equipment. On your visit, please dress conservatively and respect the families? privacy by not taking photographs of them.

At 744 Noah Lane, you?ll find Hinton?s Border Collies, a working Border collie breeding and training center, (270) 622-7074, Owner Henry Hinton says tour groups and curious travelers alike stop nearly any time of day to see him command his dogs to synchronize moving herds of sheep and cattle. ?They?re the smartest breed of dog in the world,? Hinton says.

To the east, the town of Tompkinsville pays tribute each year to summer?s sweetness with its Monroe County Watermelon Festival, (270) 487-5504. This year the event, which usually attracts 10,000 visitors, will be held Saturday, August 30, with watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests and even a greased watermelon carry. The day also includes a marble tournament, art and quilt shows, a parade, food, and crafts.

During your trip to south-central Kentucky, discover the Cumberland River Bluegrass Festival, (270) 864-2515,, held September 20 at the Dr. Schickel-Veterans Memorial Park on Upper River Street in Burkesville. About 2,000 bluegrass music enthusiasts typically attend, and entry is free.

In addition to Allen County?s annual downtown festival Jacksonian Days, held each April, Scottsville is also home to a new autumn celebration, ?Rural Heritage Weekend.? With the success of the inaugural 2002 event, it will be held October 10 and 11 this year in conjunction with the 58th annual Kentucky State Gospel Singing Convention at Allen County-Scottsville High School. ?Old Time Saturday,? on the Public Square in Scottsville on October 11, will feature live music, food, crafts, antiques, a historic hayride, and more.

?We?re easy to get to,? Richey says. ?We can show you a relaxing time.?


Scottsville/Allen County

For more information about Scottsville and Allen County tourism destinations, contact Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Shaver at 102 Public Square, Scottsville, KY 42164, (270) 237-4782, or visit the chamber?s Web site at

Other Scottsville Stops

Scottsville locals recommend the catfish at Harper?s, 3082 Gallatin Road in Scottsville, (270) 622-7557.

The town also offers a variety of fast food restaurants and a carryout barbecue restaurant, Smoke Shack Bar-B-Que, (270) 237-5629 at 100 Holt Drive; Tellie?s Corner Café, (270) 237-3032, at 103 E. Cherry; Tabitha?s, (270) 237-5199, at 801 E. Main; Martha Jo?s, (270) 237-4434, at 360 S. Court Street; and Colonial House, (270) 622-6161, at 1630 Bowling Green Road.

Lodging options include two bed and breakfast facilities?Jacksonian House at 112 S. Fifth Street, (270) 237-4572, and Magnolia Bed and Breakfast at 308 W. Main, (270) 237-5775. The Executive Inn can be found at 57 Burnley Road, (270) 622-7770, and the Uptown Motel, (270) 237-3103, is at 205 S. Court Street.

In Burkesville, accommodations that provide two picturesque perspectives of the Cumberland River include the Alpine Motel, (270) 864-7100,, at 700 Hill Street, or the Riverfront Lodge at 305 Keen Street, (270) 864-3300,

For a lesser-used but scenic way to travel, try the Cumberland River Ferry in Tompkinsville. It?s the only ferry owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and leads to the Turkey Neck Bend area of Monroe County. From Tompkinsville, take Highway 100 east for five miles, then turn right onto Highway 214 and go two miles. For more information, call (270) 487-5109.

Shannon Leonard-Boone is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.

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