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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on December 17th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 41 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 41

Spotlight on: Santa Maria Raceway

Mike Kappmeyer, promoter

By DAVID MINSKY

The stands of the Santa Maria Speedway have been comparatively empty in the last few years. But Mike Kappmeyer plans to change that.

The owner of MRK Motorsports, Kappmeyer was hired in November as the racetrack’s new promoter. He wants to bring it back to the glory days of Doug Fort, who founded the track 50 years ago and whose reign attracted thousands to the races every weekend. Fort’s widow, Nettie, still maintains ownership of the track.


RACE TIME
Mike Kappmeyer, the new promotor of the Santa Maria Speedway, said the racetrack is coming back and will be better than ever.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SANTA MARIA RACEWAY

With business acumen and a little bit of luck, Kappmeyer thinks he should be able bring the same business to the racetrack as Fort did.

The speedway, which actually sits in Nipomo, is a one-third mile dirt track that hosts races sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association (ICMA). The track can host several IMCA divisions, including 360 sprint car class, hobby stock, straight stock, pro-stock, IMCA modified, sport mods, and the list goes on.

To prepare for the upcoming season, Kappmeyer is changing a few things. He said he tore down two-thirds of the buildings. For replacements, a shipping company donated a few cargo containers, which will be modified with windows and doors. One will be used for an office building, while another will be used for a concession stand decked-out with new paint and flooring. The entire kitchen is being remodeled, too.

Kappmeyer is also taking the pit areas and moving them from the inside of the track to the outside. He’s using a portion of the parking lot to accommodate the new change. He’s also building a one-fifth mile go-kart track that will be placed inside the main track.

And there will be a lot of new faces. Kappmeyer is bringing in his daughter, who will be doing accounting and management; his grandson, who is also a racer; his granddaughter and wife will help run the track as well. This pretty much makes it a family business. He’s also looking to hire about 15 to 20 trusty employees to help him run the track.

Kappmeyer himself is a bit of a racer, and got really into the sport decades ago. He recalls the memorable experience of pitting for Rick Mears in the Baja 500, a grueling 500-mile off-road journey through the Baja California peninsula. On the side he also owned a plumbing business. Now retired, Kappmeyer is living his dream of running a track.


PHOTO COURTESY OF SANTA MARIA RACEWAY

“I’ve always wanted to have a track,” Kappmeyer said. “I retired at age 50. That’s why I got my grandson into it. It’s hard to find first-generation racers.”

Running a track takes money and sponsorship. There’s been renewed interest in bringing the track to what it used to be. According to Kappmeyer, some of the main sponsors are Dunn-Edwards Paints, Coors Light, and Carr Winery. That’s another change: wine. As far as adult beverages go, spectators can now enjoy the races with wine, rather than just beer.

The racetrack will be able to seat approximately 2,000 spectators. Races will be hosted every Friday with some on Saturdays and Sundays, during the season, which runs April through October. Kappmeyer said that tickets will be around $16.

He added that there’s still a lot of work to be done before the track is ready, but keep on the lookout for upcoming advertisements. When the track is finished, Kappmeyer wants people to come see the changes for themselves, adding that he will be starting race car driving classes, too.

“People need to come out and watch a race and get in a race car,” he said.

 

Staff Writer David Minsky wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, email, or mail.








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