Written and Photos by PJ Marolt
Start your Engines
Massive vibrations shake the ground. Green-layered hills span the looming spotlights. Hundreds of people pepper the landscape, spread across the stands and the track. Red clay rains from the infield, covering fans too close to the fence, in search of a closer look of the ⅜-mile long, red clay, semi-banked oval track, where dirt racers compete.
Located on Route 93 in Crooksville, Midway Speedway is a dirt racing track with a statewide reputation, and a history that dates back to the 1950s. Racers and fans travel from across the state to watch.
Midway has experienced management and ownership turnover through the years, but a few faces remain consistent. Jeremy Krouskoupf, the track’s current promoter, is a rough, tough advocate for the races. Since 2016, he has done a little bit of everything, including track prep, cleanup, maintenance and paperwork. Krouskoupf started racing at 8-years-old, so it’s no surprise dirt track racing is engrained in his life.
“It’s pretty much been my life for the last 20 plus years,” says Krouskoupf. “So it’s a labor of love.”
Racing season kicks off in spring and runs through the fall, with races usually held on Saturdays. The crowd amassed from these races is usually in the hundreds, but for the bigger races, it could be more. All are welcome on the dirt track scene.
Midway Speedway hosts different classes of racing, ranging from the cheap but efficient “econo” class to the expensive and fast “late models.” Classes separate cars by mechanical power and efficiency up to keep the races fair. Midway currently features six different classes, with plans to add more.
Classes Currently at Midway
- Late Model
- Econo class
To enter, a car needs to meet certain specifications, mostly those in place for safety. Racers also need to demonstrate an understanding of the rules and what racing flags indicate. But the Midway staff are more than happy to help novice racers learn what they need get started.
Running a successful dirt track takes hours of labor and dedication. The new owners, Ray Seifert and his sons, Chris and Michael, have livened up the racing scene since purchasing the track in 2022. Since then, they have improved the facility with new guardrails, buildings, a PA system, speakers, lights, updated bleachers and resurfaced red clay.
Chris, Michael and Ray brought back the “points” system, where if racers do well, they earn points. Points champions are then invited to a banquet at the end of the season, where the prizes celebrate their achievements.
Plans for the future include building new fence, an improved pit stand, laying new gravel and more.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Michael says. “Sometimes you just sit and dream about different things that you want to do to the place.”
Within the year, Chris, Michael and Ray hope to finish their new go-kart and lawnmower track inside the infield. By hosting these races, they want to inspire a new generation, while making racing more affordable. Krouskoupf hopes to host national events and stream races, for those who can’t attend in person.
Dirt Track Culture & The Future
In the sport of racing, experienced drivers pass on their knowledge— and love—to the younger generation.
Racer Jess Hartman is a pro with 24 years of experience. His grandfather owned R&R Speedway in Zanesville until its closure in 2000. Meanwhile, newcomer 12-year-old Bailey Miller, started racing only two years ago.
Hartman has earned plenty of accolades over the years. He won the Street Stock World Championship at Muskingum County Speedway, the United Midwestern Promoters Ohio Sectional Championship in addition to won several times this season.
Newcomer Miller, on the other hand, has already won multiple races in his class this season.
“It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. I like racing a lot, and I like going fast,” says Miller.
Krouskoup believes that racing is a sport that has evolved over time in human history. From the Roman chariot to the super late model, the wheels keep turning, and the fans keep coming.
“[Racing] is like nothing else, it can get wild and crazy at times,” Krouskoupf said. “It’s one of the purest forms of entertainment.”