It’s only a miniature dirt oval at a county fairground, but to Calvert City driver Kyle Clark, it’s Daytona International Speedway.
Clark was track champion at Paducah International Raceway two of the last three years in the Warrior class for four-cylinder subcompact stock cars. But the Benton fairgrounds race is top priority.
“I really want to win that one,” he said.
Part of the reason is the money. The $300 first-place payoff is big for the Warrior racers, who get $50 for a feature victory at Paducah. But it’s not the only motivation.
“It’s in front of the hometown crowd,” Clark said. “That really means a lot.”
The stock car race, scheduled for Wednesday night at the H.H. Lovett Park grounds, is part of a full schedule of motor sports events slated at this year’s fair. The schedule also includes the demolition derby, a standard for as long as anyone can remember, ATV and truck mud drags, go-karts and motocross.
The stock car race is in its third year. Clark was one of the dozen competitors who turned out for the first race.
He hit a rut while battling for the lead, went up on his side and almost flipped his Dodge Neon machine.
“My dad saw that picture” of his car up on two wheels in the Tribune-Courier, Clark said, “and he told me I could have sold a sponsor a spot on the bottom of my car and gotten him some good advertising.”
Mechanical problems plagued Clark again last year.
Jeffrey Bailey of Calvert City won the inaugural race in 2011 and Blayne Ellis of Evansville, Ind., won last year as Bailey and Hunter Lyles, also of Calvert City, battled it out for second, with Lyles taking the runner-up spot.
The makeshift oval, constructed each year for the fair race, features extremely tight corners.
“You pretty much have to squeeze through on the inside if you’re gonna pass anybody,” Clark said.
The demolition derby is one of five events promoted annual by Brad Durbin of Mayfield. A second derby is held at Lovett Park during the Tater Day celebration. Other competitions are staged at county fairs in Graves and Calloway counties and at the Paris (Tenn.) Fish Fry.
Full-size and compact classes will compete for at least $1,000 first-place prize money and trophies. If 25 or more cars enter, the winner’s prize goes up to $2,500.
Go-karts return for the second year, to compete on a different variation of the oval track today at 6 p.m. as part of opening day activities.
The Warriors battle on Wednesday night at 6 and the mud drags are slated for Thursday at 7.
Motocross will replace the truck and tractor pull on this year’s fair agenda. Races start at 7 p.m. Friday.
The derby wraps up the week of activities on Saturday, with heat races getting under way at 5 p.m.