NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Promoter Rick Schwab talks to drivers before the start of Saturday’s races at Elmwood Park Speedway in Norton.
When I was in the sports department years ago, I loved covering football games in Norton. The field sat on the southern edge of town and was built into a hill, allowing hometown fans to spread out a blanket on the lush green hill and watch the Bluejays take on visiting teams.
It's perhaps the best venue in the state to watch a high school football game.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to make a return trip to Norton, only this time, to cover the races at Elmwood Park Speedway.
The half-mile track is located just southeast of the football field in Elmwood Park. And it offers its own unique atmosphere.
There aren't a lot of half-mile tracks remaining in the state. Drivers can get up to a high rate of speed before throwing their cars sideways around the banked corners. Then, they get to manage the long straightaways before sliding sideways again.
It's a big track with big excitement. My first trip to the speedway was well worth it.
The trees surrounding the east end of the track were a beautiful green and waved in the breeze, along with the extra air kicked up by passing cars.
It is an awesome facility, and promoter Rick Schwab has had plenty of help trying to keep the track going. Following Saturday's features, Schwab was quick to point out just how blessed he and the rest of the volunteers are by sponsors who make it all happen.
He knows without that support, the half-mile track probably wouldn't be operating today -- or tomorrow, for that matter.
Running a track isn't easy, and I know I wouldn't be up to the task.
But it's refreshing when promoters talk about their track and making possible upgrades and you hear a little bit of something special in their voice and see that sparkle in their eye.
The town of Norton's road to making the track a mainstay on the IMCA circuit won't be easy, but it's one the community seems willing to make.
It's also a place I plan to visit again as soon as I can.
* NICK SCHWIEN, HDN