PRESTONSBURG — Darrell Patton update the city council Monday night on the efforts Prestonsburg Motorsports, saying the group’s arm-drop drag races have proved to be successful at attracting fans from a wide area.
Patton said the most recent event, held May 4 and 5 and Combs Field, attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 fans, as well as 160 drivers, despite rainy weather and muddy conditions. He said the crowd was about 25 percent larger than during the first race, held last September.
Patton said the event drew in participants and spectators from eight states, including West Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Virginia and South Carolina.
Patton also noted that Prestonsburg Motorsports has committed to making improvements to Combs Field, as they are able. He said the group has spent $20,000 on installing concrete barriers and has erected 1,000 feet of chain-link fence. On the day of the most recent race, the group spent $8,000 on gravel to improve muddy parking conditions.
The group’s next event is scheduled for July 7, and Patton said they have already been making more improvements. He said an additional $21,000 has been spent on more concrete barriers, which he said will provide a larger spectator and vending area.
And Patton noted that Prestonsburg Motorsports is making all of the improvements without going into debt.
“We can go on and on about all the improvements we’ve made, but the best part about them? They’re paid for,” Patton said.
The group is also looking toward the future. He said Prestonsburg Motorsports hopes to work with the airport on bleachers, lighting and blacktop improvements. He said preliminary queries into bleachers have shown the group will need to spend between $150,000 and $180,000 to seat 3,000 spectators.
Council member Tim Cooley asked Patton whether the improvements being made are consistent with Combs Field’s primary role as an airport and if they are in keeping with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Patton assured the council that Prestonsburg Motorsports has worked closely with the airport board to make sure all the improvements were in keeping with the airport’s safety requirements.
On a related note, the council gave final approval to an ordinance creating a Motorsports Board. The board will include nine volunteer members appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. The members would serve staggered four-year terms.
According to the ordinance, the board will have “full power and authority to manage motorsports activities, including but not limited to planning and execution of events relating to all types of power sports, make rules and regulations pertaining to said events and to the use of city-owned property used for events.”
The measure passed unanimously.