Alderman’s Concerns Fall Short, City Council Approves Mid-Week Race at Jacksonville Speedway

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 23, 2021 at 10:34am

An Alderman’s bid to limit the amount of time the Jacksonville Speedway can run a special race in April didn’t get across the finish line during last night’s city council meeting.

Ward 5 Alderman Steve Warmowski voiced concerns during the March 8th council meeting of the planned World of Outlaws show which is set to take place next month on a Thursday night.

Warmowski’s concerns centered on a race being run on a school night, which is prohibited by current ordinances. Jacksonville Speedway promoter Ken Dobson says the race was rescheduled to Thursday, April 29th after having previously been rained out once and then canceled due to the pandemic last year.

Dobson says the World of Outlaws show is the highest level of dirt track racing and the televised event is not the normal Friday racing. He says the series races at venues all over the country similar to Nascar, so available make up dates can be very limited.

Warmowski says he feels the existing ordinances need to be strengthened to keep the races from running too late, especially during the week.

The city did an update of the ordinances as I talked about at the meeting, and there was no discussion at all and all the fines got reduced. So, I don’t know how that happened. I don’t know if there was any correspondence, I don’t know what happened there. The fines are as low as $100 dollars now. I appreciate him running the races and usually does a good job of being done on time. But I think there needs to a limit of a time he needs to be over a curfew and find that the council agrees upon.”

Dobson says he feels the existing ordinances as written do a good job of protecting the public’s interest and limits the ways the track can affect the public.

We take them very seriously we try very hard and spend an awful lot of money to make our shows more efficient. Our typical end time now is, about 9:30 to 9:45 which is down over an hour from several years ago. We think the ordinances are very effective and they require us, and we are trying to do something out of the box and actually go to the council and get permission to do it.

Alderman Warmowski kind of, in my opinion, wants to makes things a little more routine and in his mind maybe give us more freedom, and as a race track promoter I just think that’s a bad idea. I think we should be respecting the neighborhood and really not doing anything out of the box unless it’s extremely important, and trying as hard as we can to always be done at a decent hour. I live by the racetrack too, I raised kids here by the racetrack and I understand the importance of the race track taking its obligations to the public seriously and we do that.”

Dobson was present at the council meeting to request permission to exclude the April 29th race from the ordinance due to the high-profile event that draws many out-of-town spectators into Jacksonville. he says in the past he has had to ask for this permission and the council has obliged citing the exposure and revenue the event brings to the city.

The council seemed to agree with Dobson’s assessment of the event which was approved by the council almost unanimously last night, with Warmowski being the lone no vote. Dobson said during the meeting that if the council wanted to revisit the discussion on the current ordinances, he would be happy to have that conversation.

Warmowski says he was disappointed no increase in fine or set time was established but hopes it can be agreed upon in the future.