Since December of 2010, Smoky Mountain Speedway has been under the guidance of a triumvirate of owners. Successful East Tennessee business leaders Larry Garner, Stanley Best and Roger Sellers invested their money and their efforts to save the historic venue and usher it to a position of leadership among the country’s dirt racing facilities.
Each of those three brought not only the necessary financing to the track, but each offered a specialized skill set as well. Garner’s Blount Excavating is one of the region’s top earth moving companies, which proved beneficial in the preparation of the speedway’s clay surface. Best operates Stanley Best Heating and Air and was often looked upon when the track’s facilities needed maintenance. Sellers is the proprietor of Tennessee RV and typically handled the promotional and financial end of the track’s business.
Now, one of those men has taken sole ownership of the Maryville,Tenn. track as Sellers recently acquired the shares formerly owned by Garner and Best.
“It will definitely be a challenge operating the track alone, Larry and Stanley each brought a lot to the table,” Sellers pointed out in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “It was really a neat concept with Larry having the excavating company, Stanley having the heat and air business, and me having the RV dealership and having marketing connections. Over the years of our ownership of Smoky Mountain, we have been approached several times with the opportunity to sell the track. Once my partners showed an interest in a possible sale, we discussed our options. That is when we discussed the possibility of me buying their interest in the track. We came to an agreement and here we are.”
Smoky Mountain has operated as a special events track hosting major national and regional touring series shows during the time in which it was led by Garner, Best and Sellers. Indications are that such will remain as the primary function going forward.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series, and the Ray Cook family of series (Spring Nationals, Southern Nationals, and Southern Nationals Bonus Series) are among those to have raced at Smoky Mountain over the past several seasons. Sellers believes that will continue to be the case.
“It takes a lot of time to run a track on a weekly basis and I’ve got a lot going on in my life with the business, my race teams, and other obligations,” the new owner said. “I really don’t see doing anything other than a special events schedule. I want to maintain the same relationships that we’ve got and maybe even take it a little bit further. Lucas Oil, World of Outlaws, Ray Cook, Southern All Stars, and all the series that I’ve dealt with over the years.”
As has been the case since 2011, Sellers’ daughter, Casey Moses, and long-time friend and associate Dustin Dunlap will continue to serve as key administrators of Smoky Mountain’s day-to-day operations.
“Casey and Dustin will definitely still be involved because they’re an important part of the track and they know the day-to-day operations aspect of it and what all it takes to run and promote a track,” Sellers explained. “A lot of the key people who have worked with us for so long will also stay a part of the track.”
Sellers, whose sole ownership is effective immediately, foresees some changes being made to the facility under his leadership. Among those alterations could be an adjustment to the current 4/10 mile layout.
“It’s definitely been at the top of my awareness,” Sellers said of possible changes to the track itself. “We’ve heard from a lot of people that have offered their thoughts on it as far as what they think would make the track more racy, and so we’ll definitely give that some consideration and I do see some changes being made.”
While “The Mountain” has hosted some noteworthy races over the past decade, Sellers looks forward to even bigger shows on the horizon.
“I always think in that direction,” the owner of the Double Down Motorsports late model team declared. “I try to think big. I have talked a little bit about some type of a crown jewel, but I don’t know if that’s something that will work out now. I do know that Lucas has a lot of crown jewels presently. I would like to look at something similar to our Tennessee Tipoff event that could turn into a marquee event for dirt late model racing.”
This past summer SMS played host to a motorcycle ride-in affair that proved to be a success for both the facility and the bikers involved. The new owner is considering other non-racing related events to help make the track an even more profitable venture.
“I think we’re leaving all options open to be honest with you,” he stated. “The Harley-Davidson deal was a great event for us and they have an interest in coming back next year. I think that’s something that will be ongoing.”
“We’ve always been looking forward,” Sellers insisted. The primary concern that we had for the track was that it supported itself. We never really shared in the money because we always put it back in the track to do maintenance and make repairs. Restrooms, tier parking, and grandstands are all on my target list. I have an interest in putting a rear entry into the track so that you can enter onto the track from the backside and exit it from the front side where the existing gate is now.”
The sole owner is appreciative of the efforts put forth by his former partners but looks forward to the new challenge.
“Larry and Stanley have been great partners. It’s just a new direction that life has brought us. They’ve been great to work with the entire time we’ve been together. I once told Larry and Stanley that one of the best things to come out of our partnership was the friendship that we have developed.”
The final race of 2018 at Smoky Mountain Speedway will take place this weekend(October 5 & 6) with the King of the Mountain Fall Classic featuring a practice session on Friday night and racing highlighted by a $7,500-to-win Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series event along with the Durrence Layne Dirt Late Model Series for Crate Late Model machines and the Kajun Mini-Stocks Association.