“I wanted to try and get the track back to what it should be. Lately, the drivers have been upset with each other and I wanted to clear that up and also save money so we could pay the racers.”
— Weston Payne, a Craig resident and Hayden Speedway president, on changes he hope to bring to the racetrack
When Weston Payne took over the Hayden Speedway last September, he had hopes of turning things around at the racetrack.
However, a lack of racers, money and support forced Payne, a Craig resident, to close the doors on the Hayden Speedway’s 2011 season in mid-April.
“It was a combination of reasons, but the biggest was there was no money,” said Payne, 28. “The past president didn’t do what he said last year and it made it hard for us to get sponsorships this year. Plus, the economy is always an issue.”
Payne has worked at the speedway for three years and when former president Tyrrell Kochenower resigned, he stepped in to the position.
“I wanted to try and get the track back to what it should be,” he said. “Lately, the drivers have been upset with each other and I wanted to clear that up and also save money so we could pay the racers.”
Another issue Payne hoped to work out was brining in out-of-town racers by adjusting the track’s rules.
“We didn’t have a national set of rules, but rather a set of rules only our track has gone by for 30-plus years,” he said. “We ran with different engines and different drive trains that made it hard for racers from out of town to come in and compete. I wanted a more universal set of rules for all racers.”
The racetrack hit a snag when the town of Hayden was negotiating a deal with Rally Art Organization about taking over the facility’s lease.
Had RAO taken over the lease, scheduling conflicts would have arisen.
Another issue the speedway had to deal with, Payne said, was competing with a start-up track in Craig being built by Gregg Kolbaba.
“The drivers were upset when I had to cancel the season, but I don’t think we would have many racers this summer anyway,” he said. “A lot of drivers were interested in the Craig racetrack and that would have taken drivers we normally have away.”
No matter the issues the speedway faces, Payne said he plans to continue to improve on the facility and prepare for next season.
The first two concerns, he said, are fixing the track surface and working on electrical issues.
“I am going to take money out of my own pocket to get some new clay on the track so it is more slick for the racers,” he said. “We are also lacking outlets in the pit area that would be useful for compressors, so we need some electrical work done.”
Payne said Hayden is still in talks with RAO on taking over the lease, and if that happens, he said it would help bring variety to the track.
“I know RAO will work with us on letting us run a normal schedule on the track,” he said. “Plus, they will bring in other entertainment like snocross and motorcycles.”
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