Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Memories racing through my mind

My friend, KR, sent me this newspaper story she read about the speedways in Kennedale, the little town where I grew up. I actually graduated from high school with the city councilman mentioned in the story.

Bill Burrows grew up with the roar of fast cars and crowds at the racetrack.

So when he had a chance to buy the struggling Kennedale Motor Speedway last year, he says he was acting more on emotion than investment savvy.

"We took on a business that we knew wasn't making money," said Burrows, who owns the track in south Kennedale with his father, Robert Burrows, a former racer. "It's something you have to like doing."

But after a year of losing money and with the added stress of operating a Joshua transmission store, they shut down the oval dirt track this week. Bill Burrows said he hopes to lease the track to another operator soon.

But fans won't be deprived of racing. The speedway, which opened in summer 1999, was one of three racetracks -- along with the Cowtown Speedway oval track and the Texas Raceway drag strip, all near New Hope Road in south Kennedale -- that have put the city on the racing industry map.

The Kennedale Motor Speedway's closing comes as the city appears to be trying to embrace its ties to racing and the thousands of fans it attracts each week. After battling a noise ordinance several years ago, the two oval tracks last year started requiring mufflers on their cars, and most of the dragsters at the drag strip are also using mufflers. All the tracks have trimmed their hours of operation, said racers and city officials.

A nearly complete turnover of the City Council has made city government more track-friendly, said racer Billy Simpson, whose cousin David Green was elected to the council last year. Ronnie Nowell, who sold the speedway to Burrows, was also elected to the council last year. Three months ago, the council approved $60,000 for a marketing study to determine the types of businesses best suited for the city. Racing-friendly
businesses will be part of any list, Mayor Jim Norwood said.

Norwood estimates that the three racetracks bring 3,000 to 5,000 people per week to Kennedale. He said that he doesn't think the closing will have an impact and that most people will probably just go to Cowtown Speedway. He said he believes the city needs to look at doing more to promote the racetracks.

"We're looking for development that would enhance racing," Norwood said. "We've put out feelers for interest from motels or hotels, and for fast food or restaurants."

It's too late for Burrows, who said he'd had enough of the dwindling gate receipts, high racing fuel costs and other economic pressures.

"It seems like the only tracks that are surviving are the really old, established facilities," Burrows said.

The Cowtown Speedway and the Texas Raceway are more than 40 years old.

"It's hard to work 60 hours a week at one business and then 25 hours a week at another," he said. "There's a lot of blood and sweat and tears at that place, so it's a bad deal closing it."

I grew up going to sleep every Friday and Saturday night listening to the announcer at Cowtown Speedway and then the roars of the engines and sometimes the crowds. It is sort of surreal to remember now. Weird thing: I NEVER went to a single race there. Every time I'd meet someone and tell them where I'm from, they would say "oh yeah, that's where Cowtown Speedway is." Maybe I'll take my kids one night for old time's sakes and so I can say I've actually been there. I imagine I'll run into a lot of folks I knew there. There is a gal that worked at the Burger Barn in Kennedale when we were in high school. Last time I visited my best friend, we took our kids up there to play and have lunch and that SAME gal was still working there. Funny, too, how we don't know if the other person will recognize us or not. I was as much of a loudmouth then as I am now. I don't think I'm too forgettable. *shrug* I just have a bigger ass now.


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