HOUSE SPRINGS, Missouri — Kentucky Dragway is celebrating its 60th anniversary in a big way with a huge schedule of events.
Aaron Sipple and his wife, Carrie, are current owners of the IHRA-member track, which first opened in 1963. This season offers a great chance to honor those who came before them and offer an exciting program of races to those competing now.
Looking back at the great history of Kentucky Dragway, one of the previous owners was Aaron’s father, the late John “Doc” Sipple. Doc was well respected in the drag racing community, a tough competitor who finished runner-up in the 1996 Top Dragster national standings.
Much more than a driver, Doc Sipple was awarded the IHRA Track Operator of the Year in 1997, as the facility was then known as Mountain Park Dragway. In 2002, Doc was named the Sportsman of the Year, the IHRA’s most prestigious award.
As for the track, it’s located in scenic Eastern Kentucky, an area known for its beautiful horse farms, but also place where there’s a great tradition of horsepower.
“Race tracks and the people who operate them come and go,” Sipple said. “Starting in 1991 through 2001, then Carrie and I having it since 2019, it’s special to be a part of this. It’s a big milestone for any business to be around that long. It says a lot about how good motorsports have been in our area. If motorsports in our area hadn’t been that good, there’s no way it could have survived that long.”
Sipple explained the track’s not off the beaten path 30 minutes from Lexington, but it’s not in town either. He’s been thinking about the 60th anniversary for a while now and has worked hard to create a unique schedule of events.
There are 13 bracket-racing events called Supercharged Saturdays. Working with sponsors, the track is offering $5,000-to-win races for Top (Box) and $2,000-to-win for Mod (No Box). They’ve also added a new Footbrake class, along with Junior Dragster and Daily Driver races.
The track is best known for the 53rd annual KEN MOR Bluegrass Nationals, their largest bracket race of the year which typically draws over 400 cars. Held in October, it’s followed by Hallothanksmus Weekend, an idea to combine Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. It has proven to be extremely fun for the racers and kids alike with decorations of all three holidays at the track.
Another special event is the Father’s Day Gear Head Nationals. There are other longstanding events like the 43rd annual King of the Bluegrass and the 28th annual Thanksgiving Classic, a race started by Doc Sipple back in 1995.
Aaron Sipple explained one thing that makes the King of the Bluegrass race unique.
“It has a Supercharged Saturday format. Then, we take all those winners and run them off single runs,” Sipple said. “It’s our actual IHRA Ironman race. You win that and then those winners come back the end of the night. You make a pass, dial-in, and who wins is the King of the Bluegrass.
“Last year, Kayden Kratzer won it in a Junior Dragster. He beat the Top ET guy and was the closest to his dial-in. ”
The 2023 packed schedule also includes two Mopar-themed races, four “Car Wars” featuring 275 radial cars on holiday weekends, two No Prep races and nine Stack the Track events. Stack the Track is a free community event for automotive enthusiasts consisting of the popular Cars and Coffee in the morning and the Octane Night Meet.
Sipple has other special offerings including 60th anniversary poker chips which will be awarded along with the big checks to the winners of this year’s races. He’s grateful for the help of others making it all come together including Racers for Christ chaplain Kevin Cook, who has created different bios to get the word out about the Kentucky Dragway competitors.
In addition to all this, Kentucky Dragway looks to have another successful year through the IHRA Summit SuperSeries program. They look to field a strong team to compete in the Division 3 (North Stars) Summit Team Finals at Dragway 42 in September.
Click here to check out Kentucky Dragway’s Facebook page and its exciting 60th anniversary schedule of events.