Jeremy Stewart can’t go anywhere in town without getting asked when the island’s motorsports season will begin.
That answer is Saturday.
The Kodiak Island Racing Association is dropping the green flag on the 2020 season Saturday at the Kodiak Island Raceway, located at the fairgrounds. Racing begins at 5 p.m. and will include motocross and stock car heats.
“Super excited to go out and have some fun and see people enjoying the beautiful summer — the weather is supposed to be really nice this weekend,” said Stewart, president of the racing association.
The season is getting a late start thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first two races were canceled, leaving seven race dates left on the schedule. The season runs through Sept. 7, with a rain-out date on tap for Sept. 12. All races will begin at 5 p.m. this season, except for the Sept. 7, which will start at 2 p.m.
“We are trying to give people the opportunity who are working to be able to get more participants and more fans,” Stewart said.
Like any event happening now, there will be protocols in place to guard against the spread of the virus. Stewart said has gone through the proper channels to proceed to ensure the races happen this summer.
There will be signs at the track to encourage spectators and racers to social distance. The picnic tables have been removed from the grounds, while the snack shack will not be serving hamburgers, but will have hot dogs and pulled pork for the first event.
Stewart said the association is not requiring fans to wear masks.
“We don’t have a whole lot of restrictions, thankfully, because we are outside,” Stewart said. “We didn’t tape anything off because we figured by now people have got that down pretty good what they should and shouldn’t do.”
Race sponsorship will look different, as Stewart said the association didn’t feel comfortable asking businesses to sponsor an entire season. Instead, businesses can sponsor specific race days.
“We are really trying hard to make this as normal as it possibly can be and still be safe,” he said. “As a board, we wanted people to have a little taste of normal.”
The ¼-mile gravel track has been a Kodiak attraction for stock car drivers since 1983. The 1.5-mile motocross track sits inside the oval and in the woods beyond Turn 3 and 4.
Stewart said there are stock car drivers who are committed to racing this season and expects at least three to be at the season-opening event.
The other races will feature motocross, while Stewart said he sees an interest in small four-wheeler races.
“It (the track) wintered OK,” Stewart said. “It is still our good old rock.”
This is Stewart’s third year as president of the racing association. He said there are a few new board members for this season. To become a member of the association, visit the Kodiak Island Racing Association Facebook page. Riders have to be members to practice and race.