Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 69

ter , Immokalee Regional Raceway founder and owner . The late Mike Crick and Bug McCarty first brought the idea to Hester , and the race was fittingly held at the conclusion of the memorial event that honored Crick , who passed away July 7 , 2021 .
Sunday ’ s final day of the Winter Warmup honored the late Brian Stubblefield , and saw Dan Ferraro picking up the $ 10,000 payday over Jarod Ledford .
With this the final event of 2021 for Immokalee Regional Raceway , Hester reflected on the challenges of the year , as well as the many updates and improvements accomplished in 2021 .
When Drag IllustrateD visited Immokalee in 2020 , the track ’ s future was uncertain , as the neighboring airport was intent on expanding their operations , which greatly encroached on the dragstrip . Essentially , the airport wanted to build a taxiway right where the track was located , urging Hester to relocate the track , albeit a short distance , but still a major undertaking .
“ I either had to close down or rebuild the track ,” says Hester , who opted to rebuild and contin-ue racing . “ We essentially had to move everything down track 330 feet . That included the tow-er , the starting line , including new concrete for both lanes and installing new staging lanes .
“ Of course , after being here for 22 years , all the wiring was crumbling , so we had to rewire the whole place ,” Hester continues . “ We put in a new timing system , new PA and radio station . Every old fence we dug up , we replaced with a new one , and that can be said of every aspect of this move . Everywhere you look there ’ s something new . There ’ s nothing old around here any-more !”
From start to finish , it took Ralph , his son Thomas , and one full-time employee working around the clock for five weeks to complete the rebuild . Suddenly , Immokalee Regional Raceway looks more like a brand-new construction , rather than a decades-old dragstrip .
“ People might ask why in the world would we go to all this trouble , and the reason is that I tru-ly believe that if this track shut down , there would never be another one in south Florida ( at least on this coast ) because of all the rules and regulations ,” explains Hester .
The local racing community has always stepped up to support Immokalee , and this latest move was no exception . “ David Swallow of Shameless Racing not only sponsors our Runday Sunday events , he stepped up and sponsored us with this latest project , as did the local racers who chipped in money and materials ,” says Hester .
Immokalee is gearing up for a big Outlaw 632 race coming up in February , which is also spon-sored by Shameless Racing . “ David wanted to have a big 632 race , so we ’ re paying $ 10,000 to win , which is pretty much unheard of for the class ,” Hester says . “ We ’ re still ironing out the details of what other classes will be running during that event , but we ’ ll have some other stuff going on too .
“ We ’ re gonna step out and try some different things in 2022 . The track is in great shape and we ’ re excited about the upcoming season ,” concludes Hester . DI
December 2021 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 69