Michael Moats sports@knoxnews.com
Posted May 14, 2011 at midnight

What started out as a promising endeavor has turned into a temporary closure for one of East Tennessee’s best-known racetracks.

Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville has temporarily closed. The announcement was made Tuesday. Co-owners Larry Garner, Stanley Best, Roger Sellers, and Kevin Coffey came to the decision following their weekly meeting Tuesday morning. The decision was made for many reasons.

“There are a lot of factors we think has affected us,” Sellers said. “We have a lot of our racers and fans that are in construction, truck driving, fabrication, and things like that. Those types of jobs haven’t really come back yet, so they don’t have the extra money to spend on racing. The fuel prices have a lot to do with it, too.”

“The bridge work on Brick Mill Road hasn’t helped us, either. The county told us, originally they’d have it open for traffic by April 1. Now, they’re telling us it will be another 10-12 weeks. That really cuts off people passing by that may come in and see a race.”

Since Garner, Best, and Sellers became partners with Coffey in the offseason, a number of improvements have been made to the facility. A new pit concession stand has been constructed. The racing surface got several hundred loads of clay and the turns reshaped. The result produced several track records this season.

The group doesn’t know when the track will reopen.

“There is no time frame when we’ll have it back open,” Sellers stated. “We have a meeting planned for next week where we’ll talk it over. We’re going to evaluate the situation, take a look at our lineup, visit with a lot of people to get some input.”

The closure is effective immediately. Tonight’s scheduled race has been cancelled.