Dixie brings its latest season to a close
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
October 09, 2013 12:28 AM | 1569 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dixie Speedway wrapped up another season Saturday night, battling the weather until the very end.

While rain did not fall, the following night’s race at the Swims family’s other track in Rome was a washout.

The weekend was to feature Lucas Oil Shootouts at both tracks, with many fans traveling from out of state in motorhomes. The $10,000 winners’ prize on both nights drew some of the country’s top drivers, and a standing-room-only crowd Saturday night.

It was the 24th time the race had been held at Dixie.

Track spokeswoman Mia Swims-Green said it’s the biggest single event for Dixie.

“This is a major event,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest dirt track events in the Southeast, with a longstanding history. We always let that be our finale.”

Swims-Green said the race, which takes place two weeks after Dixie’s monster trucks show, draws a completely different demographic.

“It’s really exciting for us to see that,” she said. “Most race fans don’t attend the monster trucks, and we get a lot of new people out for that. Then, we have the (Lucas Oil) Shootout, and we have the people that travel in.”

Chris Madden won the race at Dixie after leading all 50 laps. A year ago, Madden led for the first 49 laps before losing it on his final time around the track.

Billy Ogle Jr. was second, steadily moving up from his starting place at 11th. Defending race winner Jimmy Owens finished fifth.

Swims-Green said she and her family members — including her father, Mickey, the track’s longtime owner — will all take some much-needed rest now that the season is over.

In many ways, the season is a marathon for the track’s employees, who are on hand every Saturday night from the middle of April through the first week of October.

“We are ready (for it to end) by this time of year,” Swims-Green said. “We start dangling this event in front of our faces. We haven’t had a Saturday since April to be home. Preparing six weeks out for events makes the summer go fast. We love what we do, but we always look forward to this. We are just exhausted emotionally and physically.”

Dixie’s dirt will get a break, too.

“The track will just be sitting there waiting with anticipation for April,” Swims-Green said. “We just let it kind of soak in the weather.”

The track will be plowed up for the winter and then repacked in the spring.

The 2013 season was as trying as it was successful. Rain was in the forecast nearly every weekend, and there were multiple rainouts. Poor weather often led to a smaller turnouts, which meant less revenue for the track.

It also meant less racing for the fans.

“We were battling the rain every weekend it seems, but, overall, it was successful considering the weather,” Swims-Green said. “We always have a lot of support at Dixie. A lot of people that come aren’t necessarily race fans. It’s a special-event tourist attraction, so you don’t get the same people every single weekend, except for the participants and their families.”

For those like Swims-Green and her father, the preparation for next season begins in only a few months. Preliminary planning begins in January.

“My father will start getting the track ready a little bit in February, then more in March, and we will be ready for the opening with the spring championships in the second week of April,” Swims-Green said.

In the meantime, the track plans to debut a new website, with Chase Swims — Mickey’s grandson, and the son of Dixie’s late vice president and general manager, Mike Swims —working on it with Swims-Green, his aunt. Representing the next generation of the family business, the 25-year-old Chase Swims, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama, has taken to the marketing side of things.

A couple of sponsorship opportunities have also opened up for the track.

Swims-Green said racing at Dixie wouldn’t be possible without the support of the city of Woodstock, as well as the fans and drivers.

“We couldn’t continue to keep going with Dixie without them,” she said.
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