Drag Illustrated Issue 178, September / October 2022 | Page 127

A conversation with racers who took on a new role — track owner — to save their local tracks BY NATE VAN WAGNEN

A conversation with racers who took on a new role — track owner — to save their local tracks BY NATE VAN WAGNEN


Between rising costs and lucrative offers to sell vast properties to real estate developers , it ’ s making less and less financial sense to own a racetrack . More than ever , owning and operating a racetrack requires a strong passion and dedication to the sport . That ’ s one of the reasons why so many track owners are also racers themselves .

Over the last several years , numerous dragstrips across the country have gone up for sale . Most recently , a handful of those tracks were sold to developers who plan to use the land for warehouses , industrial complexes , and housing developments . But on the other hand , several racers have stepped in to save facilities that could ’ ve went the way of the now-defunct tracks in Englishtown , New Jersey ; Millington , Tennessee ;
Commerce , Georgia ; and Jupiter , Florida . Drag
IllustrateD recently spoke with three of those racer / track owners to get their perspective on taking on the track owner / operator role as racers .
TOMMY FRANKLIN is a two-time PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion who announced his family ’ s purchase of Virginia Motorsports Park in 2017 . Along with his wife , Judy , and their daughters , Amber and Ashley , Franklin has invested considerable resources toward improving the facility , which opened in 1994 . The NHRA-sanctioned track has hosted NHRA national and divisional events as well as a stop on the Street Outlaws : No Prep Kings tour , but it ’ s most recently become known as the home track for the PDRA , which the Franklin family also owns and operates along with VMP Vice President and PDRA Series Director Tyler Crossnoe .
JOHN BARTUNEK , a longtime New York-based racer with experience in Mountain Motor Pro Stock , Pro Modified , and Outlaw 10.5 , became a track owner in 2021 when he purchased Union Dragway in Union , South Carolina . He moved to North Carolina in 2020 after retiring from the auto repair shop he owned for 35 years . With more time on his hands , he got into the track ownership game with the help of longtime Union Dragway manager Tony Brown . Bartunek hasn ’ t been as active on track in recent years , but he hopes to change that in 2022 .
KENNY KORETSKY , a longtime eastern Pennsylvania businessman , raced NHRA Top Fuel and Pro Stock for years , running Pro Stock until the late 2000s . His son , Kyle , made his Pro Stock debut in 2020 , and the family , including son Kenny Jr ., announced their purchase of Ma-
September / October 2022 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 127