Kentucky roads–and more–officially open for motorsports

By J.A. Ackley
Apr 12, 2024 | Backroads of Appalachia, Kentucky

Alec White/SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series

Hillclimb. Rally racing. Touge. If it’s a motorsport event, Kentucky wants it. The state has now made it easier for promoters to host events on its public roads (and airports), thanks to a recently passed piece of legislation.

We already have some of the best roads in the country,” said Erik Hubbard, of Backroads of Appalachia. “Why are we not utilizing them? We don’t need road courses. We now officially have a course wherever we go. We want to bring cars to the community rather than have one community around a road course … [and] benefit that community.”

West Virginia already has a piece of legislation that paves the way for promoters to use its roads. Kentucky 24 RS HB 29 took some inspiration from it and refined it for how the state operates its government.

[An easy place to host a race? How about West Virginia?]

Three state legislators sponsored the bill: Representatives Chris Fugate, Derek Lewis and Timmy Truett. Both Lewis and Truett said they never took interest in motorsport until Backroads of Appalachia started to help organizers develop motorsport events in the state.

[Backroads of Appalachia: Using motorsports to boost an economy]

I would have never thought that racing and rally cars would be as popular as it was until they started doing events last year,” said Representative Truett, who’s also a school principal. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what a rally car was until they came to McKee and to my school and shown them off to our kids. We wanted to bring something to eastern Kentucky that was exciting for the kids, give them something to look forward to and to bring people here.”

Photo by Matthew Stryker/Vermont SportsCar.

[Looking for international rally flavor? Try the Boone Forest Rally]

People having a good time is one thing, but some of the poorest areas of the U.S. are in eastern Kentucky.

Backroads of Appalachia had an economic impact study done,” Representative Lewis said. “It shown that 42,000 people that were brought into Kentucky for different racing events; a $38-million impact. When you have those hard numbers, it’s hard to be against it.”

In this day of political divide, HB 29 passed the Republican-dominated legislature with zero opposition. Not a single nay. Then the Democrat governor Andy Beshear signed it into law.

To hold a motorsport event in Kentucky on public roads, promoters will still need to develop a plan and approach the appropriate authorities, which Backroads of Appalachia can help with, but the barriers of governmental bureaucratic red tape are far less now.

Come to eastern Kentucky,” urged Representative Truett. “Give us a try–I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It’s unbelievable that you have this much access to country roads and they’re in good shape. Once people see what we have to offer, it’s going to open the door for unlimited possibilities.”

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84FSP PowerDork
4/12/24 11:02 a.m.

I've been wanting to get over to spectate and maybe work this event.  Not too far from my place in Cincy.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/12/24 11:24 a.m.

HB 29 passed the Republican-dominated legislature with zero opposition. Not a single nay.

Motorsports unites us all?

yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/12/24 1:16 p.m.

What part of eastern KY?

Ranger50 MegaDork
4/12/24 1:28 p.m.
yupididit said:

What part of eastern KY?

East of I75. Nobody from Frankfort gives a rats rearend about this area. Follow the meth and pills and you're in the right spot.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/12/24 1:48 p.m.

This is really cool to see, when most of the news these days about racing and venues is not good news.

ascott GRM+ Memberand New Reader
4/12/24 9:28 p.m.

Hillclimb in Pineville in seven days. It's sold out and there's a waitlist, but spectators are free and we're partying downdown Friday night. 

Be there or be square.

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