Backroads of Appalachia scores grants to attract more events

By J.A. Ackley
Nov 23, 2022 | Backroads of Appalachia

Photography credit: Perry Bennett

Organizing motorsports events in eastern Kentucky just got easier, thanks in part to $1.4 million in grants that Backroads of Appalachia has recently received.

[Using motorsport tourism to boost an economy]

Backroads of Appalachia helps supply the venue and coordinate with government and private entities to make motorsports events happen,” said Backroads of Appalachia Executive Director Erik Hubbard. “[The grants allow] us to purchase anything and everything needed for an event–from safety to time trial to multimedia equipment–and have it available to organizers. The organizer won’t have to lease [the equipment] or haul it–we’ll have it there. They just have to worry about the racers and putting on the event. We hope this makes the motorsports events’ entry fees the cheapest in the country, bringing even more people to the state.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, provided a $1 million competitive grant.

The Appalachian Mountains stretching through the coalfields of southern and eastern Kentucky are home to some of the most incredible scenic routes for motorsports enthusiasts,” said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05), Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. “Along the routes, you’ll find rural towns with a rich coal mining history, the birthplace of various bluegrass and country music stars, pioneer trails, unique handcrafted Appalachian items, and delicious meals made from scratch. The volunteer team at Backroads of Appalachia believe southeastern Kentucky is worth the road trip for visitors across the country and, thanks to their work, more local businesses are now thriving in our small towns as more tourists stop by.”

The Commonwealth of Kentucky added $400,000 toward the effort.

Backroads of Appalachia is giving life to a new industry in our commonwealth,” Governor Beshear said. “It’s bringing in jobs, nationally recognized events and supporting local businesses. When we get to support the work of someone like Erik Hubbard, who is from the area, whose family is from the area, we know we’re working with a good partner. Our Appalachian region is home to some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Working with an organization like Backroads, we get to showcase our commonwealth and bolster a new industry with lots of potential. Just along one route on Highway 160, 30 new businesses have opened in the past few years thanks to all the new traffic. That’s amazing.”

Backroads of Appalachia supplies not only equipment but also volunteers, lessening the need for participants to also work the event.

We partner with Addiction Recovery Care and EKCEP [Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program] to create programs that will help people in transition,” said Hubbard. “It gets them in a positive setting. We’ve seen how hard these people work at events and how they want to be part of something bigger than themselves and feel worthy.”

An economic study found that the efforts of Backroads of Appalachia injected up to $14 million into the economy of eastern Kentucky. The people of eastern Kentucky and surrounding areas, which have endured through the decline of the coal industry, now have something to place their hope in. It’s an optimism expressed by not only Hubbard but elected officials as well.

We know that Backroads of Appalachia is just getting warmed up,” Governor Beshear said. “They’ve already done so much as a volunteer organization. When Backroads puts on an event, folks come to eastern Kentucky and spend time in our businesses and explore the mountains. This funding is going to help them better market and organize their events, building on their incredible success. We know that we have challenges in eastern Kentucky as we try to diversify our economy and help people find good jobs close to home. Backroads of Appalachia is going to be an important partner in these efforts. We’re excited to watch them grow and bring even more attention to our Appalachian region.”

Congressman Rogers shares that enthusiasm for what Backroads of Appalachia is doing now and in future projects.

Backroads of Appalachia will soon be able to take their work to the next level thanks to grant funding that will boost their marketing efforts, along with our tourism economy,” said Congressman Rogers. “Southern Kentucky is a largely untapped region for adventure tourism, and we want folks to know that they are welcome to come here to explore, relax and enjoy the natural beauty in our Appalachian region.”

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earlybroncoguy1 Reader
11/22/22 6:32 p.m.

Drive faster - I hear banjos. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/22/22 9:56 p.m.

IDK if it's directly related, but there are several (stage) rallies (both tarmac and gravel) in Kentucky now - currently running under the NASA RallySport banner. 

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
11/23/22 1:55 p.m.

The mountain roads in that part of the country are stunning. I wish the best to this kind of effort. 

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
11/23/22 1:58 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

IDK if it's directly related, but there are several (stage) rallies (both tarmac and gravel) in Kentucky now - currently running under the NASA RallySport banner. 

Yes, that's related.

CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/23/22 4:48 p.m.

In reply to vsquaredbyrho :

Appalachia roads are the best! Video game like.

CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/23/22 4:55 p.m.

Thread needs more country music. Have some Tyler Childers:

gutenberg918 New Reader
11/24/22 12:16 p.m.

This was one of the best articles in Grassroots lately. It was completely different than anything else I've read here. It shows how innovative people can affect the economy of an area by thinking outside of the box by promoting the sport. Thanks for this reporting. 

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