Mansfield Returning To Its Dirt Roots

Mansfield Motor Speedway will return to its roots this year, becoming a dirt track once again under new promoter Cody Sommer. (NASCAR Photo)

MANSFIELD, Ohio — Mansfield Motor Speedway has a new promoter and plans have been announced to turn the .44-mile oval into a dirt track for the first time since 1998.

Cody Sommer, who recently promoted the Gateway Dirt Nationals, is the new promoter of Mansfield Motor Speedway. He believes that changing back to a dirt track has massive upside and long-term potential that both he himself and current track owner Grant Milliron desire.

“Dirt racing in Ohio is strong and overall across the country it is in a much better situation than asphalt. Mansfield is located in the heart of some of the best racing in the country and with a venue as nice as this (Mansfield), it is a shame it has not been put back on the map like it deserves,” said Sommer. “Mansfield was once nationally ranked in the top-five of greatest race tracks in the country and I don’t see any reason why it cannot return back to that very quickly.  We will have the only dirt track I am aware of with safer barriers, we have 12 luxury suites, a complete race control room, 7,200 aluminum bleacher seats with chair backed/covered VIP reserved seating for 2,000 as well.  There is also our hillside seating option for around 2,000 for a total capacity of nearly 10,000…it is just setup perfectly for what I want to do.”

MansfieldThe original track, known as Mansfield Raceway, opened in 1959 as a three-eighths-mile dirt track. The track was converted to asphalt in 1999, renamed Mansfield Motor Speedway and hosted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races from 2004 to ’08. Hard times fell upon the track after NASCAR left following 2008 and soon the venue stopped hosting racing altogether.

In 2013, local business man Milliron bought the race track in hopes of allowing it to become what it once was. Since 2013, the speedway has tried several different routes, but none have been able to stabilize the track and create longterm success.

Mansfield Motor Speedway will transform to dirt with many changes and upgrades and open in the spring. Sommer has agreed to terms with the speedway owner Milliron for a three-year lease, which includes a purchase option of the Mansfield, Ohio, property.

“Cody and his team have big plans and great vision. He is in this for the long haul and is willing to put in the resources and time the facility needs to be successful. I look forward to seeing this facility change for the good and get back to the economic powerhouse it once was,” said Milliron.

Sommer has been involved in racing for 15 years and has promoted major events across the Midwest and Southeast. He promoted the Carolina Crown, the largest dirt race in South Carolina history, as well as the Indy Invitational at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2015 and the Gateway Dirt Nationals last year.

“It is a huge project and a massive undertaking. However, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have high expectations and a big picture that I was thinking about for the place,” said Sommer. “This venue will cater to not only the hardcore motorsports fan but also to the Mid-Ohio resident, their families, their hobbies and interests…an entertainment destination.”

Donny Lia takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Mansfield Motor Speedway in 2008. (NASCAR Photo)

Mansfield Motor Speedway will host a number of events this year, including the inaugural Triple Crown Spring Series, a three-race, three-weekend series featuring 410 winged sprint cars, super late models and wingless sprint cars, with each class offering $5,000 to the winner.

The Triple Crown Spring Series will host events on March 25, April 1 and April 8 and any driver able to win all three races in their division will earn a to be announced bonus.

Additionally, the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions will visit the track on May 28 and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will race at Mansfield on July 2.

The biggest event of the season will be the inaugural Great Lakes Dirt Nationals on Aug. 11-12, which will feature the F.A.S.T. Series and Ohio Sprint Car Series co-sanctioning a $15,000-to-win event on Aug. 12. The F.A.S.T. 305 sprint cars and BOSS wingless sprint cars will also be in action that weekend.