By John Bombatch
XENIA — Race promoter Kelly Estes and Kil-Kare General Manager and Competition Director Will Tharpe both confirmed on Thursday: Kentucky’s biggest bracket drag racing event will be Ohio’s biggest bracket drag racing event in 2017.
The nationally famous Ultimate 64 Shootout is coming to Kil-Kare Dragway, June 9-11, in what could be the largest drag racing event ever held at the cement quarter-mile facility.
“We’re excited to be running the Ultimate 64 Shootout at such a fabulous facility,” race promoter Kelly Estes said via phone. “Kil-Kare is one of the best drag racing facilities in the area, and that’s going several states over. We’re just glad that we were able to work things out with Kil-Kare to where we would be able to have the race there.”
According to Estes, the race has brought such big names as current National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock competitor Jeg Coughlin, Jr., NHRA top fuel driver Shawn Langdon, International Hot Rod Association world champion Kenny Underwood (the 2015 winner), and two-time NHRA champion Luke Bogacki in the past. Three-time Ultimate 64 runner-up Josh Baker and 2016 winner Cody McDaniel are expected in the field as well.
Drivers from more than 20 states are already entered in the 2017 race.
“We are very pleased to have this event with us for the 2017 season and beyond. For a number of years, we have had conversations about bringing this event to Kil-Kare. And things before just did not fall into place for both of us. This is just the first of many larger events we are working on for the 2017 season,” said Tharpe in an emailed statement.
On Wednesday, co-promoter Randy Helton announced on a social media site that “business and sponsorship requirements prompted the change of venue.” The Shootout event had been held at Mountain Park Dragway in Clay City, Ky. for the past five years.
Empty Pockets Motorsports Promotions LLC, a business co-owned by Ohioans Estes and Helton, has been running the Ultimate 64 drag racing bracket race weekend event for 12 years now. The Shootout is a three-day drag racing weekend where an elite field of 64 pre-entered drivers compete for the ultimate prize of $50,000 to the event winner. On top of that lofty prize payout, any driver can compete in several $10,000-to-win and “Hi-roller” gambler events scheduled to take place throughout the race weekend.
“Racing will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Estes said. “Thursday is our fun day, where we’ll take the golfers in the bunch out for a tournament, then they’ll come back and we’ll feed them dinner. Kil-Kare will host a Test & Tune session that night, and we’ll have a golf-cart race too.
“It’s a fun day on Thursday, then we start racing on Friday morning. We’ll have a 10-grand race each day. …. Of course Saturday night will be the big main event,” he said.
Estes wasn’t certain of the name of the local golf course hosting the tournament, but said it was “within two miles” of the drag racing facility. “As far as the motels and everything, we’re gonna try to get the local businesses involved. Everything will be local,” he said. “That’s the way we operate.”
According to Estes, Kil-Kare will host a Mini Ultimate 64 Shootout in either September or October of this year. The winner of that race will earn a spot in the 64-car field for the $50,000 2017 Ultimate 64 Shootout event.
“I’m just so excited that we came to an agreement with Kil-Kare,” Estes said. “You just can’t imagine what this means to us. It was time for us to bring this event up to a top-class race track, and Kil-Kare is definitely a good choice. We had been the richest bracket race in the state of Kentucky. Well, guess what? We’re the richest bracket race in Ohio, now.”