Tyler County Speedway
Celebrating Five Decades of Thrills: Tyler County Speedway's Monumental 50th Season at America's Baddest Bullring
(Middlebourne, WV) 1974, 50 years ago, a half century has passed. 1974 was a year that witnessed America go through political upheaval never before known. The infamous 'Watergate' incident had led to Richard Nixon leave the office of president of the USA. America was bringing her troops home from Vietnam. Global economies were still feeling the financially depressing events from the 1973 oil crisis... and a ¼ mile dirt track near Middlebourne WV, the seat of the somewhat secluded Tyler County, first held a race.
The Tyler County Fair Board had first put the wheels of the project in motion in the spring of 1973. Labor, equipment and donations were primarily provided by local businesses, contractors and citizen volunteers, all of which lended a hand in their field of expertise. The track itself was completed in the summer of 1973, but it took until the following summer to ready the facility for the opener. Pat Herrick was the winner of that grand opening race, one ran in daylight hours due to lighting work not yet completed.
Much in racing has changed in 50 years, just like it has in the world in general. The original headlining race cars were all home-built creations, as individual as the racers themselves. Most were built with durability as much as speed in mind. It was a time when shade tree mechanics and individual ingenuity took center stage in the spotlight. The choice of manufacturers or engines displayed the racers' allegiance. Every USA built passenger car brand names of the time were included, and partly made for some of the attraction of the show. No two cars looked the same. The transportation used to tow the cars to the track was just as diverse. Hay wagons, flatbed farm trucks, tow bar and even tow chains with someone riding in the trailing race car weren't unheard of.
What we see now hardly resembles the early years. The cars, and towing equipment, have become more technical, sophisticated, faster and is nearly all purpose built, especially in the headlining classes. Safety equipment and car construction is light years ahead of what it once was, and racers generally tend to treat racing in a much more business-like way.
Likewise, the track facility itself has undergone changes. Under the direction of the current promotional team, 'The Hometown Racing Association' group for the past decade, the popular 'Bullring' has witnessed a much-needed facelift. Improvements have touched nearly every part of the facility with one notable exception... the high banked quarter mile track now known as 'America's Baddest Bullring'. Original guard rails have been replaced with safer, 3 row Armco retainers. Outdated lighting has been supplemented with metal halide stadium lighting, complete with a total renovation of electric facilities along with the necessary 3-phase service. The pit area has been enlarged, a new pit steward office constructed, lighting added and PA improvements. Scoring and flagging facilities have been replaced with safer and modern areas now needed for today's high-profile shows.
The race fans weren't forgotten during these renovations. The deteriorating and steep block and board bleacher seating is now gone, replaced by modern, aluminum stadium style seating complete with access steps with handrails. A handicap access seating area near the main entrance allows fans with disabilities to conveniently enjoy the always entertaining racing action. VIP seating has been added. Picnic tables abound, with a covered picnic shelter area added to provide a shaded area to lounge or enjoy the plethora of tasty menu items at the adjacent concessions area. The Bullring Bistro provides taste tempting and fresh eateries, and those who crave a sweet treat will find the soft-serve ice cream options numerous and delicious. Race fans are now greeted by the life size bronze 'bull' to welcome them to 'America's Baddest Bullring'. Fans also are encouraged to join the 'Bullring Boosters' club, and the track has its own 'Bullring of Honor', a hall of fame for those honored by the track for their contribution to the Tyler County Speedway's history. Even the younger race fans have a club to call their own, as 'Dusty's Kids Club' has long been a part of the regular weekly program.
Long known for its 3 and 4 wide racing action, Tyler County Speedway annually hosts some of the largest and most popular events in the Ohio Valley region. National and regional touring series such as the Lucas Oil Late Model Series, RUSH Racing Series and many more appear frequently. In addition to the incredible Special Event lineup, the Tyler County Speedway Weekly Racing Series consists of some 100+ weekly grassroot racers in the UMP Super Late Models, RUSH Late Models, UMP Open Wheel Modifieds, EDGE Hotmods, Sportmods, SCDRA 4 Cylinders and MWRA Mini Wedges on Saturday Nights April thru September.
The Tyler County Speedway has hosted some of the biggest events in racing including the Legendary Hillbilly 100, Black Diamond 125, Jackpot 100, the World of Outlaw Late Models and the Lucas Oil Late Model Series among others. The historic speed plant has played host to prime-time, nationally televised live racing courtesy of the alliance with FLO Sports. Also, the speedway has seen its share of dirt late model royalty grace its racing surface, national racing legends like Jim Dunn, Charlie Swartz, Donnie Moran, Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer, Rodney Combs, Bob Wearing, among others. Joining the beforementioned are today's superstars, well-known names like Devin Moran, Jonathon Davenport, Mike Marlar, Bobby Pierce, and yes, even NASCAR champion Kyle Larson have made their mark at Tyler County's now nationally known circle of excitement.
We are excited to celebrate 50 years of racing action, while always providing a family friendly facility and atmosphere. The Tyler County Speedway is still a track where some of the original fans from that 1974 opener join children to cheer on their favorites. It continues to be a place to celebrate home-town heroes, and it's still very much a track where families and friends gather in familiar seats, exchange greetings and sometimes good-natured barbs on a weekly basis. It's a great way to escape the week's labor and worries to spend a night in the beautiful outdoors. Once experienced, it's easy to see how the Tyler County Speedway is considered by fans, drivers and industry insiders to be one of the raciest tracks in the nation and has been dubbed the 'Bullring' over the years featuring a racing surface that frequently highlights three and four wide racing action. Some say Tyler County Speedway is a throwback facility, a fairgrounds track with an old-time nostalgic feel where elbows up, fender bangin’ short track racing is more important than the cushion of your backside.
Fans still thrill to the experience of sitting so close to the action that a swift breeze will part your hair as the field blasts into turn one as they fan out in classic ‘Bullring’ side by side posture down the backstretch leaving even the most die-hard fan in attendance in awe. Year after year, the palace of speed for the racing purist awaits every Saturday Night at the tiny Tyler County Speedway as the region’s finest wheelmen converge week after week to conquer the toughest competitors at the ‘Bullring’ and all its charm. And oh, by the way when the night is over, if you ain’t dirty, you ain’t been!
Submitted By: Dan Patterson