Courtesy of Scott Wolfe
Chillicothe, Ohio - In 1953 a group of Chillicothe businessmen realized a plan that had been in the making for several years. The group, which consisted of racing fans, drivers, and car owners, sought to provide a premier racing facility for the rapidly growing sport they knew as Stock Car Racing. It was a sport they lived and loved. It was the vision of this particular group of men that led to the construction of Atomic Speedway, which today is known nationwide as K-C Raceway. Although the track was widened to its present state in the mid 1970's to accommodate higher speeds, the track still maintains its original configuration.
..... This group formed what became known as the non-profit organization of the Chillicothe Stock Car Racing Association or
CSCRA, which previously sanctioned races at the Ross County Fairgrounds track.
Their new endeavor, which began as a purchase of prime land off State Route 23
on Blaine Highway, became known as Atomic Speedway for its proximity to the new
Uranium enrichment plant at nearby Piketon, Ohio. Strategically, the new
location was also nearly halfway between Waverly, Ohio and Chillicothe; and the
name Atomic Speedway held a dual meaning in that the racing to come was
literally "atomic and explosive" in nature. A diamond in the rough was to become
a crown jewell among the nation's speedways.
Almost immediately big-time racers from all across the Midwest wanted to test
the Atomic High-banks. Drivers learned quickly that Atomic was more than the
typical bullring; it was the Indy 500 of short track racing. Besides a wealth of
drivers from the Ross County-Scioto-Pike County areas, Atomic was drawing
drivers from Indiana and Kentucky as well as Northern Ohio and especially the
Columbus, Ohio area. Suddenly, Atomic Speedway had turned into the CSCRA's "Big
Adventure"; and life was good.
The track operated under the sanction of the CSCRA until around 1978 when many of the original members of the organization were near or exceeding retirement years. The CSCRA banner was known from coast to coast as promoting many big-time races. The "Buckeye 100" and "Atomic 100" were two of the sanction's largest events and the CSCRA promoted its races, its drivers, and its shining facility in a first class manner. The organization not only met its goal of giving local racers a place to compete, but it also promoted a first class facility that saw many driver's pass through en route to fame with USAC and NASCAR.
.....With its membership aging, the CSCRA turned over the reigns to an ambitious promoter Russ Conley, who held many of the first-ever $5,000 to win races at his new speedplant. Conley also delved in operating the Southern Ohio Raceway and sought to run SOR on Saturday's and Atomic on Sunday's. Conley eventually sought bigger adventures with the advent of the the World of Outlaws and their popularity, and became a partner in MOSS (Midwest Outlaw Super Sprints) which promoted sprint car races and eventually some late model races. (Due to a dispute, that group became known as the current All-Star Circuit of Champions)
.....As the economy stiffened in Southern Ohio and Sunday night racing became too much for the fan base, Atomic Speedway sat idle and went on the real estate market. After sitting idle for nearly the entire 1984 season, the Karshner family purchased the speedway along with the Cooper family of Cooper Glass. Thus, K-C Raceway was born-the "K" from Karshner and "C" from Cooper. Action would resume in 1985 with Super Sprints, Late Models, and 6 Cylinders as the main attractions. Immediately, K-C Raceway was once again a success.
.....Soon the Karshner's would become sole owners of K-C, but the name had already been established as the place to be. Eleanor Karshner, sister to multi-time champion Jr. Smalley, served as promoter, while husband Dave was in charge of track preparation and the facility itself. The entire family served a role in the track's success from 1985-2001. During this reign, K-C established well-known events at the "Freedom 40", "K-C 100", "Spring 50", and served as a staple in the well-established All-Ohio All-Star Outlaw Sprint Speedweek. Around 1988 a Hobby Stock class replaced the 6 cylinders and around 1990 a fourth class was added the UMP Modified.
.....The Chillicothe economy was not the best at the turn of millenium, and many weekly shows lost money. Nearing retirement from their regular jobs and often having to pump their own money into the purses, the Karshners sought a buyer; but because they had put years of heart and soul into their investment, not just any buyer would do. Rumors spread that other promoters would buy the track for a permium price then close it down. That was not about to happen. Then came young businessman Jason Lafferty, who seemed to be the perfect buyer.
.....After only one night of operation, Lafferty admitted that promoting was not his forte and he sought out his friend Jim Nier, who had steered him towards the orginal deal in the first place.
....Said Jimmy Nier, "I wanted to race a couple more years. I did not want to own a race track at this point in my life." "But Dad called one night, and I knew what was going to happen. We met with Jason and when it was all over, we owned a race track."
....The Nier's finished out the 2002 season with the schedule that was handed them. Then came 2003. "Anything I do, I want to give it 100 percent," asserted Nier. "We decided if we were going to own a race track, we were going to make it the best track around. We wanted to make it a safe, fun place to race and a place the fans could enjoy. Most of all we wanted to put on the best possible show."
....Many improvements followed. With the theme "if you build it, they will come", K-C Raceway expanded quickly with a continuously growing pit area, new seating, a new press tower, new concessions, and remodeled rest room facilities. Even a playground for the kids is in place. K-C Raceway is indeed a racing showplace.
....In 2009, K-C Raceway has a new enthusiastic owner in Jeff Schrader and wife Vickie. "I hope this is the start of a great journey for me. Owning K-C Raceway is like owning a valuable piece of history and new toy all wrapped into one. This is a dream come true."
....But first and foremost is the outstanding racing schedule and tradition-rich quality of high-speed racing established by the CSCRA back in 1953. Nearly every top rated sanctioning body has raced at K-C Raceway. Many have visited since the Nier family took over, and many more stars are expected to shine under the tenure of Jeff and Vickie Schrader. Both the World of Outlaw Sprints and World of Outlaw Late Models are cornerstones of the racing schedule along with the All-Star Circuit of Champions, and NRA Sprint Invaders sanctioned events. For four years, the big event was in The Dirt Track World Championship. One of the crown jewels of racing, the DTWC was a home run in its innaugural 2005 run and four year infancy.
2013 has seen a re-birth of the legendary dirt oval in Southern, Ohio, with the
aquisition by Brad McCown, owner of Jackson County Speedway. This will usher for
a new age for the newly renamed Atomic Speedway, set to re-open shortly.