After tuning and building Pro Stock engines for most of his career, Brian Self decided that he wanted a change of pace in the world of drag racing and that’s when the opportunity came to purchase a once-troubled raceway in Caddo Mills.
Slated for a reopening on April 2, the I-30 Dragway has been a hit-and-miss proposition for many who have tried to run the track, which was once called Redline Raceway, but Self and his partner, Keith Pelton, think they are on the right path to bringing back the sport to Hunt County.
“We are hoping it pays off because we’ve got a lot invested in this,” said Self, who spent years working on Pro Stock engines at major National Hot Rod Association events across the country.
The track has sat idle for years along Interstate 30, at Farm-to-Market Road 1565, and that’s when Self saw an opportunity. As Self tells it, he was chatting with Pelton, who has been one of his engine customers for years, and he came up with a plan.
“I said we should venture out and do our own thing,” Self said. “We went for it.”
What they got is a track that has been pretty much shuttered since 2014 in the wake of a lawsuit against another ownership group that was accused of dumping hazardous waste in a nearby creek. While the facility is in good shape, especially the pits and the control tower, Self and Pelton spent the last few months redoing all of the asphalt and concrete, including regrinding the ⅛-mile track and the shutdown area.
“We’ve probably laid 400,000-square feet of asphalt down,” said Self, adding that the improvements have been made to the racer entrances, the pits and to the track itself.
The investment has been significant, exceeding $300,000 just to get the track somewhat in shape. The partnership of Self and Pelton holds a five-year lease with the property owner, but the capital improvements have all been out of their pockets.
The work still to be done is focused on the electronics to get the timing system ready, updating the suites, laying down rubber to give the track a tacky surface and moving some awnings out of the pit areas.
“This is all of our money,” Self said.
Despite shutdown, Self said the track was in excellent shape.
“They had done a magnificent job on everything,” Self said. “They just stopped. So, we had to finish all of the shutdown area and the return roads. It’s a lot of asphalt.”
For the ownership team, the hope is that they will attract bracket racing and grudge racers to the track from across North and Northeast Texas, as well as Oklahoma. The track is also expected to feature some nitromethane-powered Funny Car appearances, especially those in the Nostalgia class, which wow fans with their classic car frames (think Camaros and Mustangs) and power that can produce speeds clocking past 200 MPH for the 1,000-foot track.
The track will have its formal grand opening with a two-day event starting May 7, which will feature a full schedule of Nitro-powered vehicles that could draw some big crowds — many of who could not watch racing in person thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
At that grand opening event, Self said he expects Funny Cars, Nitro Fuel Altereds and Nitro-powered Harley-Davidson motorcycles. There will also be an appearance by jet-powered cars. In the future, Self said the track may see some Nostalgia Top Fuel cars — the most powerful and most expensive to run.
The track’s history has been unsettled at best and in 2014 it settled a lawsuit filed by Hunt County, which had accused the previous track owners in 2010 of dumping hazardous chemicals, gasoline, asphalt, concrete and a refrigeration unit into and adjacent to Brushy Creek. The dumping allegedly included asphalt scraped from the raceway’s one-eighth mile drag strip in March 2011, as well as more than 30 metal 55-gallon drums labeled with “VHT” and racing fuel.
Self’s focus is to get past the track’s history and to create a robust experience for northeast Texas drag fans.
“They’ve got to be (hungry),” Self said of what he believes is the appetite for drag racing among fans in the area. “I think it’s going to bring people something to do.”