Engines are ready to roll at Aztec Speedway
AZTEC − Another season of sprint car and go-kart racing is set to begin on Friday, April 14 at Aztec Speedway with a two-night opening weekend program featuring some of the top sprint car drivers in the region.
With 11 race dates planned through Saturday, Oct. 7, Aztec Speedway will once again feature a wide array of racing for modifieds, stock cars, hobby stocks and sport compacts along with weekend programs for the go-kart racing scene.
As New Mexico's oldest continuously run dirt track, Aztec Speedway will be entering its 71st season of live racing. But that kind of consistency comes with challenges.
More:New Mexico drivers took the spotlight at Aztec Speedway
Getting the racecourses ready for both the sprint cars and the go-karts has been a difficult process of late, with cold weather and frequent rain showers getting in the way.
"The rain slows things down, but the wind and the cold makes it difficult for everyone to get motivated," said Aztec Speedway general manager Erick Garcia. "But we're fortunate that we've overcome a lot of those tasks with the help of a lot of great people."
Garcia, who took over the role of general manager from Mike Tenski following the conclusion of last season, has done his part to keep the track on task for opening weekend thanks to the help of a lot of local businesses.
"The legacy and history of this track made it more important to keep the renovation process within our roots," Garcia said.
In addition to Aztec Speedway, local racing fans and participants will get a chance to be a part of the racing at Fairgrounds Speedway in Cortez, Colo. That track is managed by Garcia's cousin, Julian Garcia, Jr.
"A lot of the drivers reside and compete at both tracks so we wanted to make sure those promotions worked together hand-in-hand," said Erick Garcia.
Aztec Speedway will open with modified sprint cars, as well as a visit from drivers in the Performance Open Wheel Racing, Inc (POWRi) Desert Winged divisions as well as the New Mexico Motor Racing Association (NMMRA).
Last year, Albuquerque's Caleb Stelzig won the POWRi featured race on the closing weekend. The victory was one of nine wins for Stelzig on the year, to go along with 14 top-10 finishes in 23 races.
Stelzig was last year's leading driver in the NMMRA standings, just ahead of Albuquerque's Caleb Saiz and Colt Treharn from Los Lunas.
Farmington's Miley JoAnn Goldwich-Rhames, still looking for her first win of 2023, was one of Aztec Speedway's top drivers last year, winning four races in the International Motor Contest Association's (IMCA) Sport Compact division and earning the distinction of national Rookie of the Year.
The 15-year-old won the state championship in that division, joining the likes of Waylon Hale, Robert Coady and RaNai Toler, who now serves as Aztec Speedway's official track photographer.
In addition to the professional dirt racing, Aztec Speedway also plays host to the local go-kart scene.
Chad Tenski oversees the go-kart racing operation at Aztec Speedway for both adults and kids and has been impressed by the growth of the sport, both from participants as well as fans. Tenski estimated that as many as 50 go-kart drivers will race this season.
"It's grown a lot in the past few years, with more and more family operations getting into the business," Tenski said. "It's one of the few professional sports here in town, but it's really provided for some great opportunities."
PVHS student Jackson Harpole looks to continue success at Aztec Speedway
Before the opening weekend programs, Aztec Speedway will be hosting a test and tune event for cars on Wednesday, April 8 beginning at noon.
For more information about Aztec Speedway, check out their website.