Mt. Vernon Speedway closed for 2007 racing season

Mt. Vernon Speedway closed for 2007 racing season
By: Carly O'Keefe
MT. VERNON, Ill. - For decades, the sounds of roaring engines have filled the Mt. Vernon Speedway. But this racing season, no one will enter the front gate, let alone cross rumble through the finish line. "It's hard for the small tracks to make it like they used to," said Mt. Vernon Speedway Owner Rick Heck.
According to Heck, many economic factors contributed to the decision to close the track for at least one season. Racing fuel is $8 a gallon and fewer drivers are driving any distance to compete. Plus, last year the track electric bill cost anywhere from $1200 to $1400 a month. "With the increase in power... We could be facing a $2000 power bill," Heck said.
Even before the costs started piling up, Heck already planned to take a season off. He hoped to leave track operation up to his partner. "Racing just hasn't been fun since the accident. There are a lot of memories there," said Heck.
Because of the fatal crash at the Mt. Vernon Speedway in August 2005 that killed two spectators when a car vaulted into the stands--the track's insurance more than doubled, making it impossible for a small track to make ends meet. "Our insurance went from $800 a week to $1800 a week, you put all that together and it cost $16,000 a night to open the race track," said Heck.
After a three-year span with no accidents, Heck believes the cost of insurance will drop. The track may re-open for the 2008 racing season.