Drag races ‘got out of control’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Features Editor

No one expected the drag races to be that successful on Saturday.

And although it was not their race, Douglas and Melissa Wilkins say they have taken the heat for a "too successful" race at their track in Enon." We were as upset about it as everybody else was, but we’re getting all the blame," she said on Tuesday.

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The Wilkinses own and operate Pike County Mud Drags on Highway 130 in eastern Pike County.

The couple opened the racing business as a 200-foot mud track two years ago. A year later, they paved a 662-foot drag strip and have operated with few complaints from neighbors until Saturday’s drag race sponsored by Hot 105 Radio in Montgomery.

That race, which drew thousands of estimated attendees,

was shut down at 2 p.m., but not before law enforcement was called to help control crowds, traffic and parking problems.

"The drag race was sponsored by Hot 105 and they handled all of the arrangements," Wilkins said. "We didn’t make any money off it. We are supposed to get future advertising on the radio for letting them hold the race at our track. Nobody had any idea how many people would turn out, and nobody was prepared for it. Things just got out of control."

The crowd became so unruly that the race was called off around 2 p.m. Wilkins said.

"This was an isolated incident," Mrs. Wilkins said. "It was a one time thing and now people are wanting to close us down."

Daryl E., program director for Hot 105, said the radio station has sponsored drag races before, but never with such a large turnout. "We usually have around 1,500 to 2,000 people come out and we hired security with that in mind," he said. "We had no idea that many people would come. We regret every inconvenience that happened to anybody in that area Saturday. And, I want to thank Sheriff Russell Thomas for his quick reaction to it."

The program director, who would give his name only as Daryl E., said the magnitude of traffic was alarming, even to him. "But, at the meeting Monday night they said there were 10,000 people at the race," he said. "That’s ridiculous. No way."

Daryl E. estimated the paid attendance at around 1,700. "But, landowners were charging people $10 to park their cars and then letting them

through their property to the race track," he said. "Other people were walking in through the wood so there is no way to know how many people there were, but it wasn’t 10,000."

Daryl E. said the race was halted because some people were jumping the fencing and crossing the track. "The majority of people cooperated but a handful didn’t," he said. "So, we stopped it before somebody got hurt. But, we will finish the race at Pike County dragway, but not in the month of March. Maybe in April or further down the road.

"But, all local laws will be enforced to the max. We will not allow the law to be broken and no one will be infringed on. We regret what happened and we are disappointed about it.

We will never have anything of that magnitude in Pike County again."