With the purchase of Macon Speedway in Illinois, Chris Kearns finally realized a lifelong dream. The seasoned promoter now owns his own track. Now at the helm of the historic 1/5-mile dirt oval, Kearns looks to add his special touch to it.
“I purchased Macon Speedway — there’s no lease, no owner carry — my wife, Jolene, and I own it outright,” Kearns said. “We’ll be the promoters.”
Chris Kearns: Penultimate Promoter
Kearns honed his promotional skills by running the Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series. He also operated Santa Maria Raceway in California, from 2009 to 2012.
Along the way, he’s also worked with USAC and Greg Biffle’s Sand Outlaw Series. He also served as race director for the SRX Series. Kearns made a name for himself with the annual Wild West Shootout he promotes, which takes place in January at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico.
“I’m a young and energetic 53-year-old,” said Kearns. “I’ll still be working a bit for USAC at Daytona in February as NASCAR takes over the .25 midgets. After that, Macon Speedway and the Wild West Shootout will be my focus and will take up most of my time.”
Kearns became enamored with Macon Speedway long before he purchased it.
“It’s a very unique speedway, with a great atmosphere and tremendous support from the city and the neighborhood it is in,” Kearns said. “It’s been my very favorite dirt track since I attended a show there more than 20 years ago.”
Improving a Well-Oiled Machine at Macon Speedway
Famed promoter Bob Sargent held the reins to Macon Speedway since 1985. The track was built in 1946. Sargent lived in Macon, Illinois, and used his hometown’s track to launch his company Track Enterprises. It will operate 80 events in 14 states next season, including the STARS National Series for pavement late models. The company also operates Lincoln Speedway in Illinois, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in Tennessee, and ARCA specials at a pair of Illinois dirt miles, DuQuoin and Springfield, as well as a NASCAR Truck Series event at The Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin.
“I am impressed with the show Bob [Sargent] and Adam Mackey have produced — it’s fast and efficient,” said Kearns.
Nevertheless, Kearns said he looks to make changes to Macon Speedway.
“We will add some cool marquee events,” Kearns said. “The track will now have two-day events that will build up weekly racing. We will continue to race Saturday nights, starting by 7 p.m. and finishing by 10 p.m.”
Several national series will pay visits to Macon Speedway, including the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, DIRTcar Summer Nationals, and the USAC Nos Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
Kearns also has a list of upgrades he wants to make to the facility.
“We will have brand-new Whelen track lights and a new scoreboard — Macon Speedway does not currently have a scoreboard,” said Kearns. “Good food and good car counts are what fans want to see. I’m looking at the Eldora Speedway [in Ohio] and Kokomo Speedway [in Indiana] concessions — those are the tracks fans mention for great food.”
Macon Speedway looks to open on Saturday, April 8. Its weekly program will consist of pro late models, modifieds, pro modifieds, sportsman, street stocks, hornets, and micros.
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.