It's taken more than six years, a bankruptcy and a set of new investors, but the opening of Kern County Raceway Park is just around the bend.
The facility, located adjacent to Interstate 5 and Enos Lane, will open April 20 with NASCAR Pro Late Models, Limited Late Models, Spec Mods, Mini Stocks, Legends and Bandoleros providing the action. The track, which features a half-mile paved oval and a quarter-mile oval, will be part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Paving of the track surface was completed in November and a limited number of cars have tested on the half-mile and quarter-mile surfaces. But much work remains to be done for the facility to be ready to host a race, thus an April opening rather than a March opening.
"We want everything to be right when we open," said James Vernon, one of the new investors who took over the track in February. "We'll have a big practice for all the drivers and have the fans come out as well in late March or early April. That way we can make sure we don't have any glitches come opening night."
The inaugural season features 24 events, finishing with the NASCAR K&N West Series "Bakersfield 150" on Oct. 26.
Weekly divisions on the half-mile track will be the NASCAR Division 1 Limited Late Models and NASCAR Pro Late Models along with a Spec Modified division based on regional dirt Sport Mods. Quarter-mile divisions feature Mini Stocks, Legends, Bandoleros and Mini Dwarfs.
Most of the infield work is compete, including a multi-bay building on the inside of turn three and a concession stand/restroom facility between turns two and three.
Construction is ongoing on the four-story super structure where the top two floors will house 22 suites as well as room for race control and media. Vernon said abut half the suites, which can seat up to 26 people, have been sold.
"They're starting to go pretty fast," Vernon said of the suites. "Everybody has figured out it's going to happen."
Original construction on the track started in February 2007, but was halted in 2008 because of money problems. The 490-acre property, which includes adjoining farmland, was foreclosed on in 2010 and sat dormant from late 2008 until just over a year ago.