Local driver and former Five State Fair Champion Cody Gearhart tears around the fairgrounds speedway at last year's fair. L&T file photo
Race fans will have two thrilling nights of stock car, sprint car racing
By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
The roar of engines and the smell of exhaust and burning rubber will overwhelm the senses at the Five State Fair again this year.
Starting at 7 p.m. on July 27 and 28, five classes of cars will be racing at the Grandstands: modifieds, sport modifieds, sprint cars, stock cars and hobby class cars.
Joe Hebbert, the owner of Outlaw Promotions, is organizing the races. Hebbert has been racing since he was 10 years old, and continued his involvement into his adult life by promoting car races. His company brought the races to the Five State Fair three years ago, and now they’re back again.
Hebbert’s goal is to put the old racing tradition from his racing days back in the fair and in Liberal.
“There are a lot of memories of going out there with my dad and racing and breaking things,” Hebbert said. “We didn’t win a lot, but we had a lot of fun, and that’s what I’m trying to bring back to the Five State Fair: family tradition. A lot of people are wanting to come back from Amarillo, because they remember Liberal, and they love to race here. It’s not necessarily the money, it’s not necessarily the time of year, it’s just that track. And that track is very unusual compared to anybody else’s track in the United States... For all practical purposes, it’s always been in the shape of a D, because the Bee Jays used to have their field out there. It was never a complete oval.
“The problem with this track as opposed to any other track, with it being a D, horsepower doesn’t win out there all the time. It’s driving. Anybody that started their sprint car series or anybody who ever started racing there knows that if you can drive on Liberal’s track, you can drive anywhere else. It’s a challenging track. That’s why, tradition wise, everyone likes that track.”
Tradition is the theme of the races this year. Hebbert wants to bring the old race car sponsors back to Liberal.
“Some of the old money race car sponsors, they got frustrated with the local series, so they still own race cars but they’re not running in the series in Liberal. That’s why I do the (sprint cars). The cars that they’re sponsoring down south in Oklahoma and Texas are the kind of sprint cars they’re bringing back. I purposely did that because I’m wanting old money in Liberal that used to sponsor these cars to be able to run in the town they live in,” Hebbert explained. “We are trying to make it possible to come run the fair, and not worry about people coming from out of town, racing for points. We’re trying to bring back the old car racing.”
The races start anew each day, so if a driver does poorly the first day, they still have a chance to do well the next day. However, points are accumulated over both days for the Five State Fair Champion title.
“That’s more prestigous than a money value,” Hebbert said.
Tickets for the races are $15 for adults, $10 for kids and free for kids 5 years old and younger.
“We’re bringing in really good cars. Since I’m bringing sprint cars in, it costs a little bit more. But people are getting a good show out of it,” Hebbert said. “All of the people that are helping me are old racers that I used to race against or people who are involved in racing, and they all have the same ideology that I do: we’re not going down there to make big bucks, we’re going down there to put on a big show. We’re trying to bring back the old tradition of racing.”
Five State Fair Board member Jana Christian added, “The races are a big part of the fair, they always have been. So we want everybody to come out and enjoy the races. And there’s something for everybody for the 10 days during the fair. There is something going on for everyone.”
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