Mesa Marin Speedway

Mesa Marin Raceway

Kern River Raceway is a high banked half mile racetrack in Bakersfield, California. Its original track, referred as Mesa Marin Raceway, was demolished following the 2005 racing season to make way for housing developments in the foothills of northeast Bakersfield.

A replacement circuit is under construction, with the Collins family co-owing the track. On February 7, 2007, the new track in Bakersfield broke ground. Ground naming rights are currently for sale and the new track, currently referred as "Kern County's New Home for NASCAR," is scheduled to open in 2008. Construction has stalled in 2008 because of financial issues, but officials are hopeful to have the track ready by the end of the year.

History of the original track

The original Mesa Marin Raceway opened in April 1977, owned by Marion Collins since its inception until its demise in 2005.

Many of its events were broadcast on television, including the 1995 Craftsman Truck Series race on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and also airing the NCTS on The Nashville Network and later ESPN, and featuring local races and both the NASCAR West Series and Southwest Tour (sanction of that tour changed to SRL in 2007) on Speed Channel and HDNet.

The advent of the 911 racing series "pitted" area firefighters, police, sheriff and other local agencies to race against each other at Mesa Marin and at the same time offer assistance to youth programs in the area.

It ran NASCAR-sanctioned local racing, including the NASCAR Camping World Series West, United States Auto Club open-wheel racing, the NASCAR Southwest Tour, and other notable local racing. Nearly 4 million spectators attended Mesa Marin Raceway over the original track's 29 year lifetime.

Awards

In 1996, Mesa Marin’s ACE Awards (recognition for exceptional performance for academic effort and positive lifestyle recognition) for Bakersfield elementary school students, received top honors by ESPN, for the best program in the nation incorporating children and sports. Mesa Marin’s High School Racing Series provides the opportunity for area high school students to participate in the auto racing experience. The participating high schools build, race and provide racing pit crews for their cars. The High School Racing Series is an innovative program which is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Mesa Marin is a recipient of the Beautiful Bakersfield Award for bringing national recognition to the City of Bakersfield. Of the 900 short tracks in the nation, Mesa Marin Raceway's October Classic was voted the Premiere Event of the Year by National Speed Sport News. The track was featured in the Truck series Expansion for NASCAR Racing 3.

Role in Craftsman Truck Series formation

Mesa Marin was critical to the formation of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Mesa Marin was the site for design, construction and testing of the prototype NASCAR Craftsman Trucks. Track owners son Gary Collins (a former racer) led the team of designers and fabricators who built the first truck.

The track hosted nine NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events between 1995 and 2003. The track added 4,500 seats in 1999, and had a capacity of nearly 12,000.

The New Track

The Collins family joined the DeStefani family in planning the new replacement half-mile D-oval. The track, located at the crossroads of Interstate 5 and State Route 43 (Enos Lane) along the Kern River, broke ground in February 2007.

The track will feature considerable differences with the old track; one notable difference will be the track becoming a progressively banked track, similar to its neighbour in the south, Irwindale Speedway, with a progressive banking starting at 12 degrees on the bottom and rising to 14 degrees at the top, with an uphill climb to the backstretch, ten feet higher than the pit straight for spectator visibility. Turns three and four will also be banked 12-14 degrees, and feature a ten-foot descent. An 1/8 mile drag strip and a 1/4 mile infield oval are slated.

The track is seeking a major sponsor for naming-rights to the facility that lies right next to the southbound lanes of Interstate-5 (Golden State Freeway) and Enos Lane, the major artery of transportation between San Francisco/northern California and Los Angeles/southern California. For now the track is referred as Kern River Raceweay.

During September 2007, the track announced rules for the 2008 season, the 30th season for the Collins family, and the first with the new track. The 29th October Classic is scheduled to return in 2008 with a $30,000 to win Late Model race with NASCAR Late Models, NASCAR Camping World Series West, and SRL Flashco Southwest Tour, and will have coverage from HDNet (NASCAR Camping World Series West) and Versus (SRL Late Models). The Camping World Series West race will end the 2008 season for that tour.

Currently the track construction has been delayed due to financial difficulties as well as issues with obtaining permits. The original opening date scheduled for June, 2008 has been delayed. The owners do hope to have the track completed in time for the October Classic.

Notable drivers

References

External links

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