Grounds and maintenance crew makes Lucas Oil Speedway sparkle
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April 6, 2017  |  by Lyndal Scranton

The maintenance and grounds staff at Lucas Oil Speedway (left to right): Chad Claunch, John Dobson, Kevin Meineke and Richard Turner.

When fans enter Lucas Oil Speedway each weekend, they see a manicured complex from the well-kept grass, to the sparkling clean grandstands to a well-prepared racing surface.

All of this does not happen by accident. The Lucas Oil Speedway grounds and maintenance crew puts in lots of hours in relative obscurity in the days leading to an event to make sure the fan experience is top notch.

"Without those guys who do the dirty work each week, with very little fanfare, we don't have the beautiful facility that everyone sees when they arrive. It doesn't happen by accident," Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager Dan Robinson said.

That crew includes Chad Claunch, Kevin Meineke and John Dobson on the grounds and maintenance crew along with Richard Turner overseeing preparation of the dirt on the racing oval and new off road track.

For Claunch, a Wheatland native, it's a source of pride to help make his hometown motorsports complex shine.

"We're ready to go," Claunch said of the new season, which cranks up Saturday with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series opener. "I like getting it going again so we can get into our routine again.

"On big events, we might be here 60 hours a week some weeks. But we love it."

Fans who depart the track after a race might notice all the dirt that's slung up onto the concourse or the dusty residue that's left on the grandstand seats or the windows of the suites. Claunch, Meineke and Dobson spend the first part of the week taking care of that.

After trash pickup, power washing gets things back in clean order.

"From the suites all the way down to the pit-side grandstands," Claunch said. "All of it gets power washed every week. It's a pretty big job."

Even the walls surrounding the track are cleaned. When that's done, there is weed trimming to be done. Things are ramped up on multi-day events, such as the 4th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Spring Nationals, April 14-15. Instead of a day or two to get the power washing done, the crew comes in early the next morning and kick into overdrive.

"We have to start early to have it ready and looking good for when the gates open," Meineke said.

Added Dobson: "It's a lot of work, but we know we have to get it done. When we get it done and the weekend's over, then we can sit back on the couch."

In addition to the cleaning, the trio also hangs signs and banners. Most of that was completed last week, with only some minor fine-tuning remaining ahead of the season opener.

Turner, meanwhile, can be found circling the track during the week grading it into shape or, on race nights, driving the water truck to try and get the right amount of moisture into the dirt. The Hickory County native is a full-time employee this year with the duty of also working on the off road track.

"It's been a really mild and dry winter, so we've been able to work on the track quite a bit," Turner said, adding that being a track prep man includes being an amateur weather forecaster as well.

Turner said it's difficult to please all the drivers all time. Someone will always have a complaint that the track was too wet, too dry or too bumpy. Weather often plays havoc and he said his goal is to do the best he can.

"I tell drivers 'if you give me consistent weather, I'll give you a consistent track.' But there's always opinions on how to prepare it," he said. "Some of them are good opinions and some are not. There's just a lot of variables but ... I enjoy the challenge of it."

The 2017 season goes green this Saturday with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series opener. KOLR-10 and Z27 Presents the opening-night program which includes the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models, the Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, the Big O Tires Street Stocks and the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods.

The Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models will be running a special 25-lap, $1,000-to-win feature courtesy of ALPS Food Store in Pittsburg, Mo., as the featured class.

Gates open at 5 p.m. with hot laps at 7 and racing at 7:35. For more information on KOLR-10 and KOZL 27, go to OzarksFirst.com. The sports staff will recap each week's Lucas Oil Speedway feature winners on the Sunday-night newscasts.

Tickets:
Adults (16 and up) $12
Seniors (62 and up)/Military $9
Youth (6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family Pass $25
Pit Pass $30

Camping:
Reserved with Electric and Water- $35/Night (Limited Availability)
Reserved Dry Spots- $20/Night (Limited Availability)
Dry Camping- $10/Night

On the Slick Track: The Southwest Missouri Quarter Midget Association holds its first race on the Lucas Oil Speedway "Slick Track" - home for go-karts and located behind the main grandstands - earlier on Saturday. Practice is at 11 a.m. and racing at noon. Entry is $25 for driver and car with handlers, family and fans admitted free. For more information, visit Facebook.com/SMQMA.

For complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived stories, ticket info and the 2017 racing schedule, visit LucasOilSpeedway.com. Three-day passes for the 25th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com are now on sale. Only about 500 of the three-day passes remain. Call admission director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com for more information.

Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With it's entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.

Click www.LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.

In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking "Like" at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway.



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