---- — BROWNSBURG — With the weather outside finally changing for the better, Lucas Oil Raceway will soon open its gates for race enthusiasts who have endured a long, grueling winter.
Beginning April 6 with the fifth-annual March of Dimes Cabin Fever Championships, LOR will kick off its 2014 oval season. The drag strip opens April 2 and 9 with Wild Wednesdays, a local county favorite. Then on April 13, the VP Racing Fuels ET Bracket Series Points Race comes to town.
Known across the United States for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, first-year LOR General Manager Randy Simpson said the raceway is also so much more.
“Our lights are on from April to October with events every single weekend,” Simpson said. “There is so much going on out here.”
Simpson comes to LOR from Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway in Illinois after serving as the event development manager. In that capacity, Simpson oversaw event planning, promotions and budgeting, along with track preparation and marketing strategies, while also serving as a salesperson.
A graduate from Illinois State University, Simpson holds a degree in business administration, and while those credentials sound like he’s a good fit for the position, there’s more.
Simpson is a second-generation drag racer with a successful racing resume. His father, Terry, and brother, Jerry, began drag racing in the late '70s, and it’s been in the family’s blood ever since.
Beginning as an 8-year-old in the Jr. Drag Racing League, Simpson and his older sister, Tara, competed across the nation. Simpson won the 1997 NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing national championship and was victorious at the 2005 Division 3 Race of Champions.
Simpson said he and his father have been to 23 consecutive U.S. Nationals at LOR, with his first trip coming at 3 years old.
“From a personal standpoint, there is an affinity I have for this facility,” Simpson said. “The track has always meant a lot to me. It’s refreshing to come somewhere where motorsports is such a part of the culture.”
LOR is getting back some of its storied past this year in a season packed with events.
Goodguys Indy Friday Night Drags coincides with the Goodguys All-America Nationals at the State Fairgrounds, for a one-night-only reprise on June 6 that is open to all years, makes and models.
Also returning is the ARCA Racing Series on July 25. That will be a nationally-televised event on Fox Sports 1 that Simpson hopes brings back some luster to the historical oval.
Of course, the crown jewel of drag racing, the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals returns on Labor Day weekend and is always a huge draw.
LOR also will host the 69th Annual Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500 on May 24.
“Diving into this season we’ve got new events coming up and ones that are continuing,” Simpson said. “For me, Year 1 out here, it’s like starting over with building relationships with our constituents and establishing consistency with our programs and building what we have. It’s about getting the most out of everything we have.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.