Remodeled speedway

While it's still in the same location, still has the same name and, come Saturday night, the same sights and sounds, the Hayden Speedway isn't the same track it used to be.

"We could call this the grand re-opening," said Yampa Valley Auto Racing Association President Justin Gallegos. "It's pretty much a new track."

Over the winter and the spring, the YVARA and its members have widened the track, put in new guardrails and improved the spectator area.

Gallegos said the most notable difference is the size of the racing surface.

"The old track is about in the inside center of the new track," he said.

The widened track has grown from 45 to 53 feet wide last year to 80 feet in most places.

The extra two lanes are exciting for drivers such as Matt Jensen from Meeker.

"When I saw the track, it was still going through the process," he said. "But if it's what they say it is like, it will be a better track for everybody."

Jensen, who finished second last year in the street stock division, hopes to take advantage of the increased space to pass in a new division this year. In the off season, he built an IMCA modified car, moving up to a faster and higher profile division.

"Before last year, I took nine years off from racing," he said. "So I wanted to get my feet back under me and now we're ready to go."

Jensen has raced in Olathe for two weekends to get the feel of his new IMCA and, like most drivers, is anxious to get back to Hayden.

Jensen's class will have the most cars for the opening night. The number of IMCA drivers entered, 15 to 25, almost equals the total amount of cars entered for last year's opener in Hayden, which was 35.

Gallegos expects 60 cars out for the first race.

"With the widened track, we can have more cars and more passing in a race," he said. "We've definitely got more coming to fill up the extra space on the track."

As one of four dirt tracks in Colorado, the speedway attracts drivers from the region, including Wyoming and Utah.

For the inaugural races of the season, the gates open at 4:30 p.m. and the first rubber will hit the track

at 7 p.m.

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