Lakeside Speedway sits empty again with another season delayed

Floods in 2019, COVID-19 in 2020 delayed start
Posted at 2:01 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 18:48:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Lakeside Speedway's racing season once again has been delayed by something out of its ownership's control.

The dirt auto-racing track in Kansas City, Kansas, is closed right now because of state restrictions on mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lakeside was supposed to open April 17, which obviously didn't happen.

"Right now, we’re postponed until the governor and Wyandotte County gives us the all clear to go," Lakeside Speedway general manager Pete Howey said. "It’s kind of been a roller coaster because we’re getting ready and then we’re back a little bit. So, until it’s 100% safe, the doors will remain closed."

Last year, the track's opening was delayed for several months due to flooding along the Missouri River. Lakeside was under about 10 feet of water and wasn't able to open until August, running seven of 28 scheduled events.

"Once we got open, it was great times and we’re hoping the same for this year, and so you never count us out because we will bounce back from it,” Howey said.

It’s unclear when Lakeside Speedway will be allowed to open, but Howey said it will likely be done in phases and as few as 1,000 fans might be permitted initially.

"We’re open air," Howey said. "It’s not like going to a Sprint Center, where you are all confined inside."

For drivers, the wait is disappointing. They just want to be on the track.

"With the delayed start, we got an itch that we can’t scratch," driver Patrick Royalty said.

The sounds of cheering fans is what drives Royalty to race, so an empty grandstand isn't appealing for drivers.

"The fans in the stands is what makes us go back each week, what makes us show up to race," Royalty said. "They make it 10 times more enjoyable."

While there's been a revenue shortfall for Lakeside the past two years, Howey remains optimistic races will be able to start in a few weeks with fans.

They are still counting on hosting The Outlaw Spring Car Series, which coincides with the Kansas Speedway race in October. Those races typically bring crowds of 7,000-plus to the track.