Of all the years to take on an excavation project, 2019 was one of the most challenging.
Keith Skaggs, president of the Ste. Genevieve County Fair Board and coordinator of the racing series for karts and lawnmowers that runs twice per month at the fairgrounds, earlier this year announced the plans to turn the horse arena into a banked dirt-track oval for the racers.
Last week, the project was unveiled with a practice day on the Fourth of July and the first races on Saturday night.
Thirteen classes raced on Saturday night with more than 50 racers involved. Another 145 people purchased pit passes.
“All the racers enjoyed it,” Skaggs said. “It’s going to be a fast track.
“Everybody was happy about it. I was happy about it, how it held up. For a first night out, the track held up; I was impressed.”
The project took a bit longer to reach completion than Skaggs had anticipated, as rain was steady through the spring and slowed down similar projects throughout the county. During a rules meeting at the start of the year, he told drivers he hoped to be in the new track at the start of June.
“The rain slowed me down,” Skaggs said. “I wanted to be in that thing two months ago but with Mother Nature, all the rain, it really hurt me. I really had to push myself building. A lot of sleepless nights, late at night up here building it.”
The work did not go unnoticed.
Rookie racer Joe Prince, an alderman in the city of Ste. Genevieve, credited the Ste. Genevieve County Commission (which owns the property) and the fair board — especially Skaggs, Dustin Schwartz and vice president Kim Gielow — for their work in putting together the racing series.
“Keith has put everything he’s got into these events,” Prince said. “There were many nights that he was up there working so late, he just slept there.”
This is likely to be an even busier week for Skaggs, with the county fair set for Thursday through Sunday.
The track will be utilized this Thursday night as well, with a special night of racing during the Ste. Genevieve County Fair.
Skaggs said that night of racing will include two classes of larger karts — called outlaw karts — coming from Bedrock, Illinois, on the fast track.
The racing series previously had been utilizing the demoliton derby arena, which had longer straightaways but was a completely flat track, without banking, which forced drivers to slow down in the turns.
“They can run wide open on this one,” Skaggs said. “And how it’s banked, they love it. I’m anxious to see how it turns out Thursday.”
See complete story in the July 10 edition of the Herald.