During the off season between the 2016 and 2017 racing campaigns it was made known that Mitch and Tanya McCarter had secured a lease that would allow them to operate the Volunteer Speedway. The McCarters did indeed take over the running of the Bulls Gap, Tenn. track from owners Joe and Phyllis Loven and have enjoyed a successful year with the 4/10 mile clay oval.
At the same time, the McCarters and their team(which includes sons Pierce and Mack along with a host of others) have continued to operate their own track, the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn.
Recently it was announced that the agreement for the McCarters to operate both tracks would continue into 2018.
“It’s twice the workload but with the way we cut back the schedule at 411 and added the races at Bulls Gap, we’ve had weeks where we’ve run two races, it’s more but we’re excited and we’re ready to do it again next year,” McCarter explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “March and April were probably the toughest on us because it took a while to figure out what it was going to take at each race track each week.”
Despite the early difficulties, McCarter has been very pleased with the way his team has adapted to the increased schedule. And more, he has been uplifted by the amount of support shown by all involved.
“The support we got at both tracks from the people calling and offering help, that was surprising,” the Gatlinburg, Tenn. native declared. “It wasn’t that I didn’t expect people to offer, but it was outstanding.”
McCarter is very much involved in the day-to-day administration of both facilities. That is particularly true of the surface preparation at the two venues. And he points out that the two require very different types of care in order to provide good racing.
“They’re opposite race tracks,” McCarter stated. “I hate to say it but this race track probably has better dirt on it than 411 has because it holds moisture better. During the night at 411 the race track will look dry but it bleeds back. This race track doesn’t do that because the dirt bonds better. This track takes more water, the groove is different, and the guys race this track different and I think that’s probably because of the banking. We’ve had some trials and tribulations with it but everybody seems to be happy. If there’s a hole in the track, it’s a hole for everybody. We try our best to make it smooth.”
The 47-year-old businessman who saw significant damage done to his property as a result of the fires that devastated the Gatlinburg area last year says that race-day administration of the two tracks is largely the same even though 411 has an 11:00pm curfew while Volunteer has no such rule.
“I still get uptight,” McCarter said. “It’s kind of a joke that I don’t carry a radio but if I do get on a radio, it’s time to speed it up. I look at it like I don’t want to keep people here all night. I want people to get their moneys worth but I don’t want to keep them too late. We’ve run past what I think we ought to run a time or two but you’ve got a different facility here and the inside pits at this race track makes it tougher to get a race in and out compared to 411.”
With the two facilities located just over an hour from each other now working in tandem, the car counts at both have seen improvement. That is a trend McCarter hopes to see continue in the future.
“I think it has helped both tracks but I think it will still take more time,” he insisted. “I think people need to see that we’re going to run both tracks, we’re going to run the same set of rules, and we’re going to run them as efficiently as we can. The main reason we got this track again for next year is that we’re trying to build the car counts at both tracks.”
McCarter foresees a change in the scheduling for next season. Volunteer Speedway has primarily served as a special events facility over the past several years while 411 has mostly been a weekly track.
“This track(Volunteer) will race every Saturday night,” he declared in a very matter of fact tone.
So what will be the plan for 411 in 2018?
“We’ve toyed with some stuff,” McCarter explained. “411 will have quite a few races. And when we say this thing’s going to run every Saturday night, I really mean we’re going to run once a week. We’ve got some stuff that’s already booked that we can’t say anything about yet and some of those races won’t be on Saturday night so that will leave some Saturday nights open for 411. We’re going to do some tag team stuff with 411 on Friday night and Saturday night. I hope that we get to run here from the end of March until the end of October. We’ll probably take one or two weekends off in June and July to let everybody go to the beach or whatever. I don’t know what the number of races we’ll end up running this year, but whatever it is, I would say we’ll run about ten more next year.”
While there have been trials and tribulations, the 2017 season has for the most part been a success for the McCarters. And Mitch McCarter realizes it has been a team effort.
“I would have never have done this had it not been for my wife, my two boys, Rick Brooks, and everybody. I’m the kind of person who likes a challenge. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done. I’m not saying I’ve done it, but I’m working on it.”