Kart track in the Kibler river bottoms awakens from a long sleep
It’s a drive I took several dozen times from 2014-2017 the trip to America Motor Speedway. The track was the creation of James Richesin, a longtime figure in the local motorsports community for several decades. Whether it was racing or helping racers you could always find James at Crawford County Speedway or The Mighty Tri-State Speedway. When it came time open a track of his own along the Arkansas River, he bought the grandstands and dirt from Thunder Valley Speedway just south of Fayetteville. It did not go as planned as neighbors disliked the idea of living close to a race track.
Years went on and a sudden resurgence in dirt go karting piqued the interest of Richesin, with the help of local racers like Cody Farmer and Bill Jackson an idea was hatched to bring racing to America Motor Speedway. They etched a small oval inside the bigger one that was already formed, using the black gumbo clay, once prepped it is sticky and fast. To get an idea of the surface, Arrowhead Speedway in Colcord, Ok is similar if not the same.
“My name is James Richesin, I’ll be the track owner. Ross [Fujibayashi] will be the photographer. Bill [Jackson] will be the Tech Man. Bathrooms are over there, the boys is blue the girls is pink. No cussin, no fightin, no drankin. Don’t bad mouth the officials. I’d like to thank y’all for coming out to America Motor Speedway” James in his signature white button up shirt would exclaim during the drivers meeting. Why a white shirt? Well I asked one day “It’s so they can find me. Tillman Evans (the founder of Mighty Mouse Speedway then Tri-State Speedway) always wore one and so will I.” James said with a grin. Coincidentally, America Motor Speedway and Tri-State Speedway sit exactly the same, the sun sets just off of turn 3.
After a few years of up and down races and seasons, James finally called it quits and let the Speedway go to nature. In August of 2019 James Richesin would pass away, leaving a hole in the Arklahoma racing community. Arkoma Speedway would try to fill that hole with kart and micro-sprints (600cc open wheel cars that look like Sprint Cars), but it also went dormant.
So that brings us to Sunday. After different requests and conversations via social media a page on Facebook appeared, “America Motor Speedway, LLC” 7 days shy of 4 years since the passing of Richesin. Perfect timing.
The track still owned by the Richesin family, have leased the track to local racer Jason Chapman. Chapman hopes to bring karting back to the River Valley in a very familiar setting. Sunday was the first day to have karts on track for the first time since September 16th 2017. After several setbacks of essentially a place that has sat quiet in that time the first karts hit the track around 6pm. The sun started to get closer and closer to the tops of the trees to the west but no one seemed to notice or care as karts circled the oval.
Faces from the tracks past like feature winners Austin Farnam and Matt Urbine were prepping their karts for a run. The newest generation of the locally famed Hunter racing family was making laps in his bright red kart. Others took their turns taking turns, and for a few hours on Sunday nothing mattered kart racing was back.
The schedule moving forward will be the track racing on Friday nights until it gets cold, and then will go indoors in Rudy, AR. The outdoor season usually kicks off in March or April depending on the great Spring Arkansas weather.