“I can’t stand seeing all of the tracks that are closing or have been closed,” admits Budka, while sitting at the Racer’s Expo in Charlotte, NC. The trade show ironically is just yards away from the Lost Metrolina Speedway, one of the Carolina’s most storied dirt tracks.
“I used to work down in Charlotte and drove by Metrolina (Speedway) every day. It pretty much tears my heart out seeing it wither away into oblivion. There are too many tracks disappearing and we need to do something to save these Short Tracks. That’s why I do what I’m doing. I’m not looking for a glory trip, I simply just don’t want to see any more of these places disappearing.”
The revival projects have two completely different stories. Taylorsville Speedway in Taylorsville, NC has been abandoned for years and was nearly re-captured by Mother Nature. The second track is the old Boone Fairgrounds. Nearby a bustling community and Appalachian State University, it will re-open on April 4, 2015 under the name Mountain View Speedway.
“People have been longing for that track to be re-open,” says an excited Budka. “We are working with the man who is leasing the track in Boone for events currently. He is very excited to have us come in and run a racing program. The track has been closed since 1996 but they’ve kept it up so well. The grandstands are real nice. If you look at the photos from when they last ran, a tractor race (on a small infield track) a few years back, the place was packed.”
Auto Racing isn’t just coming back for a small splash in Boone; Budka says they will go full-tilt in its comeback season running grassroots Stock Car divisions.
“Our plan is to run at least 16 races in 2015. We already have a lot of people interested in racing at Mountain View. The area is full of a lot of racers. The plan is for now to run Saturday nights.
“The community is very much behind this. Based on the geographic location of Boone there’s a real desire to bring something like this, entertainment and racing-wise, back to that area. The track is very beautiful and scenic and it’s a laid back place. It’s a tourist town up in Boone and I think our crowds will be very diverse. We’re going to introduce a lot of different kind of people to the races and I think that a lot of what’s missing in Short Track Racing, some new blood and some new interest. I think Short Track Racing and Dirt Track Racing is making a comeback.
While Boone should roar to life in the spring, Taylorsville is a different story. Budka wanted to open both tracks right away but there is a ton of work to do still at Taylorsville. Right now the timetable at Taylorsville is a moving target, governed by the unearthing process.
“The track has sat for over ten years. The North Carolina pines have taken a hold of it and mother nature has really grasped the racetrack. Just to get to the track itself was a month process with all of the trees in the roadway. My wife and I spend nearly every moment that we aren’t working our full time jobs doing something w the track. Some of the trees were almost as big as telephone poles growing in the track. Some were as high as the light poles. We had a forest growing down in turn-one and two. Just to get to where we are has been quite a task and we are working hard and have a lot more to do.”
When Taylorsville is ready, Budka has plans to take the place to the next level to ensure its future in the community.
“We just have to get the track done. When we do it will be so good for the community. We’re not just going to do Stock Car Racing there. We’re going to utilize the facility. We want to do car shows and swap meets and get the whole community involved in the racetrack.
While Boone looks closer to re-opening, Budka admits that Taylorsville is “his baby.” Talking with him at a booth at the Racer’s Expo it is clear how excited he is to bring it back to life.
“Taylorsville is very close to my heart. I have a lot of blood sweat and tears into that place already. Over the course of ten months I’ve met so many people up there and they are so passionate about the racing. People are excited about Taylorsville being re-opened. There’s a lot of history there. It’s time for that track to come back.”
Some may wonder why Budka would take on another revival project while having his hands full with Taylorsville. It’s a question that is best answered with mix of passion, hard work and logic.
“My wife even questioned me saying ‘are you sure we should do ‘two’ tracks?’ If it weren’t for the fact that the track in Boone is in such good shape, the answer might be different.
“I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I know what the competitors want. I know what the fans need and want to see too. I’ve been involved in other tracks and have learned from all of them. This is the first time doing a track on my own.
“We’re looking at putting the grassroots back into racing. We don’t have to be Talladega. We are perfectly fine being a good little grassroots local track. That’s what a lot of racing has gone away from at some of these tracks and it's what we want to do.”
Taylorsville and Mountain View are two tracks in the same state with two completely different stories. Budka’s, however, is the story of the little guy, using his hands and heart to help the sport that fuels his passion.
“I love the sport. I’ve been around it since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Short Track Racing has been in my family for years. Anyone who knows my family and I know we have been in racing for a long time and are very passionate about the sport. I truly love this sport.”
Grassroots racing will return to Boone this spring. As far as Taylorsville, the timetable is to be determined. The good news is, Budka stepped in just in time.
“We are so excited about both tracks. Taylorsville, if it was left abandoned for another year or so, would be at the point it couldn’t be saved.”
Thankfully for both Lost Speedways, one man is attempting to be their savior.
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