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Wednesday, Apr 24 2013 11:03 AM

Kern Raceway opening pushed back to May 18

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Workers continue putting finishing touches on the Kern County Raceway Park.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Workers continue efforts on the soon to open Kern County Raceway Park off Enos Lane and I-5.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mike Lane's pit crew works on the Bakersfield drivers car during test laps at the new raceway, west of town. The Kern County Raceway Park is scheduled to open in May.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

The much-anticipated opening of the new Kern County Raceway Park has been pushed back once again.

The track, located adjacent to Enos Lane and Highway 5, had originally planned to open on April 20 but that was pushed back to May 4 due to construction delays. The grand opening has now been pushed back to May 18.

The racing portion of the facility -- a paved half-mile oval along with a quarter-mile paved oval -- is race-ready and nearly 50 drivers tested there on Saturday.

But work remains to be completed in other areas, including the four-story superstructure, which houses two levels of suites as well as offices, concessions and restrooms.

"We're not ready for (the public)," track Vice President James Vernon said on Wednesday. "We probably could have been but we didn't want to get to the day before we were supposed to race then not be able to. If we had one problem we couldn't have made it. I figure this is better for everybody."

The delay now creates the opportunity for a sort of test run.

While there won't be racing competition on May 4, the grandstands will be open, free to the public, for "Fan Appreciation Day" as drivers will be practicing on both the half- and quarter-mile ovals. Practice will run from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

"Everybody gets in free, the concessions will be open and we can make sure everything works," Vernon said.

The delay will allow more drivers to compete on opening night, as on May 4 there is a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in Stockton, which would have prevented some drivers from competing at the new track.

Also, the delay gets the opening off the hugely popular Relay for Life event in Bakersfield on May 4.

"The 18th is the perfect date," Vernon said. "Nobody is racing. We'll have a better car count. It will be great.

"I'm very happy about waiting. I actually slept last night."

Season tickets as well as single-day general and single-day reserved are now on sale at www.kernraceway.com where the revamped 24-race schedule can also be found.

 

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