Lonesome Pine Raceway meets with drivers, plans to reopen Aug. 1

About 50 drivers showed up for Saturday’s meeting at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn. Track officials plan to convert the surface from dirt back to asphalt and begin racing every other Saturday beginning Aug. 1.

COEBURN — Lonesome Pine Raceway is hoping to reopen on Aug. 1 and the track’s general manager and promoter said Saturday that Confederate flags will be welcome.

“We will not be NASCAR-sanctioned because we do not support NASCAR,” Tim O’Quinn said at the initial drivers meeting following facility owner Bobby Hill’s announcement of the reopening of the short track off U.S. Highway 58-A in Wise County. “I want everybody to bring a Confederate flag and an American flag when you come.”

O’Quinn’s comments elicited a round of applause from most of the crowd, which included about 50 drivers.

Amid racial tensions across the country, NASCAR banned Confederate flags inside its facilities earlier this year. NASCAR continues to welcome and encourages the flying and display of American flags at its events.

MOVING THE DIRT

The Coeburn track, which was known as Clay Valley Speedway last year after Hill had converted the facility from asphalt to dirt, has returned to its prior name of Lonesome Pine Raceway.

LPR originally opened in the 1970s and has since been closed and reopened periodically.

Last year’s switch to a dirt surface — and the subsequent name chance — ultimately was doomed by bad weather, low car counts and other issues, and track operations ceased.

O’Quinn said LPR hopes to make its season debut on Saturday, Aug. 1, offering regular racing in the Limited Late Models, Pure Street, Modified 4 and Pure 4 divisions.

The track will also host an extra division or two throughout the shortened season if it can get enough cars to run in Street Stock class and in Enduro class.

“We plan on having about seven races and running every other Saturday,” O’Quinn told the drivers. “We’re not opening the track to hurt any other track. We’re just offering you another place to race.

“I promise you this: If you bring a car, you will race.”

Dirt still covered the asphalt on Saturday, but O’Quinn told the drivers plans are to have all of the dirt removed by Friday.

“We’ve got some cleaning up to do,” O’Quinn said.

Then pointing to turns 1 and 2, O’Quinn added, “we plan to repave right here.”

He said the area between those turns suffered the most damage from having the dirt piled on top the track.

Hopes are to repave the entire track surface at some point, but right now it’s cost-prohibitive.

“We’re just starting out here and we’re going to need some help and support from you guys,” O’Quinn said.

Last week Hill said the track will follow all social distancing guidelines as necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We should have plenty of room for social distancing with 5,800 seats,” Hill said Saturday.