It's been a hot off-season rumor for several years. Long-time owner/promoter Randy Mooneyham never has been secretive about listening to suitors for Monett Speedway as he ticked toward traditional retirement age.
Rumor became reality on Wednesday.
Mooneyham, who's been at the helm of the "Grand Ol' Lady" of the Midwest dirt racing scene for the majority of its 47 years, told RacinDirt.com that he's sold the track to Monett Motor Speedway, LLC.
"It's kind of with mixed emotions," Mooneyham said on Wednesday night. "But my age (65) and the years we've done it, I just thought it was time to pass the torch to somebody younger, with newer ideas."
Kyle Slagle of Pierce City, who's raced USRA Modifieds in the area for several years, will oversee operations.
Slagle said the track will race weekly in 2017, and with the originally scheduled special events, but has not yet determined if it will be on Friday (as has been the case the last four seasons) or Sunday nights as it was prior to 2013.
Weekly classes will remain UMP Late Models, USRA Modifieds, Out-Pace USRA B-Mods, Midwest Mods, Pure Stocks and Pro-4s.
"The one thing we wanted—and we could have gone a couple of different ways when we sold it—but we wanted to see it stay a race track," Mooneyham said. "I think Kyle will keep it going good."
Open since 1970, Monett Speedway is believed to be the longest running, continuous weekly racing dirt track in the state of Missouri and one of the longest-enduring weekly tracks in the country.
The 3/8-mile oval was built in 1970 by Bob Schofield of Springfield, who also constructed Fayetteville Speedway in Arkansas about that time. Schofield promoted the track for a couple of years, but Mooneyham said Monett went through "six or seven" promoters in its first decade.
Mooneyham said he and wife Linda bought it from John Williams of Berryville, Ark., in "either 1980 or '81, I can't remember for sure which." Except for a three years in the 1990s when he leased the speedway to Ken Essary, Mooneyham has been in charge ever since.
Generations of drivers and fans have attended races there, so Monett Speedway's historical significance in dirt track racing is a given. Dozens—if not hundreds—of tracks around the region have come and gone since, and the world was certainly a different place.
When the first green flag flew at the southwest Missouri oval, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and Gunsmoke were the top-rated television programs. All this was a decade before cable television was born, much less a thing called the Internet. Postage stamps were six cents—a bargain in an era prior to email.
"Time kind of passes you by," Mooneyham said. "All this new technology and stuff."
Earlier this winter, Mooneyham sold the MARS DirtCar Series. He's also promoted tracks at Bolivar and Lebanon over the years and was the original promoter of the Midwest Latemodel Racing Association (MLRA) when it formed in 1989.
"It's had its ups and downs like all race tracks," Mooneyham said of Monett Speedway. "But it's survived. I'm proud of that. I think it's been a good thing for the city of Monett and the city of Monett has been good for the race track.
"Linda and I want to travel and do some things that we're not able to do in the summer when you're tied down to a race track."
Mooneyham said he told Slagle he's willing to help out as needed.
Slagle, 32, said he would take Mooneyham up on the offer.
"We're going to lean on Randy a little bit and he's going to help us out," Slagle said.