Big plans in store for longtime Greenville dirt track

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Butler County Motorsports Park is no more.

Fear not, race fans.

The track has been renamed Avenger Motor Speedway and is under the ownership of Chris Coggin, of Orange Beach, and Robert Orlich of Gulf Shores.

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A longtime draw for race fans both in and around Butler County, track founder Bo Thagard decided to retire and sell the park to the pair of racing enthusiasts, who say they have big plans in store for its future.

“Bo wanted to retire so we worked out a deal with him,” said Coggin, a retired racecar driver whose last official race was in Greenville. “We’re going to try and put on more of a show for the fans, not just with racing. We’ve got a three to five-year plan, and the more public support we get, the quicker we can grow. We’ve had great public support so far.”

The duo plan on raising the winnings as well as introducing additional race classes to the track. Long-term plans include new skyboxes, concession stands, lights, bleachers, a re-grated track and speaker systems. Hopes are to eventually add RV parking sites, a drag strip, ATV and motorcycle dirt tracks.

Reaction in the southeastern racing community has been immediate. The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series has added a Nov. 8 date to its national touring schedule at the Avenger Motor Speedway. The event will be 50 laps with a $3,000 grand prize and be the highlight of the 2008 season.

Additionally, Avenger Motor Speedway will become part of the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series during the 2009 season.

Other drivers are enthusiastic about Coggin’s and Orlich’s efforts.

“Chris Coggin has delivered on everything he has said he would do with our race team, and I have no doubt that he will deliver in his plans for Avenger Motor Speedway,” Chris O’Connor, a driver with Coggin’s NeSmith team, said. “I’m pretty excited about the track because from what I’ve seen, the track has a lot of potential.”

The first event under new ownership is Saturday, Oct. 11. General admission, pit passes and car entry costs will remain the same for now, said Coggins.

“As Robert and I talk to people in the community, it surprised us that there are a lot of people that didn’t know there was a racetrack here,” Coggin said. “We looking forward to reaching out to the community, working with local corporations, and building a facility that the community can be proud of, and a facility that will bring new visitors and a positive economic impact to Greenville.”

On Friday at Wal-Mart from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., the new owners will have a 2007 Corvette Late-Crate Model racecar for view by the public. - Michael Rodgers contributed to this report.