XENIA — A large race fan crowd piled into the Kil-Kare Raceway stands to enjoy the first night of the inaugural Monster Truck Summer Nationals on Friday night.
The stands along the front straight were nearly full, and Kil-Kare general manager Will Tharpe estimated the attendance for the event to be around 1,500.
Fans saw the “Beast,” “Son of Beast,” “Virginia Giant,” “Bad News Travels Fast” and “Samson” monster trucks in qualifying, head-to-head racing and even some freestyle runs on Friday night.
A small but mighty jet-powered Smart car drew oooohs and ahhhhhhs from the crowd, as the little red machine spewed fire and exhaust smoke out the back and its engine roared to a deafening crescendo.
“Transaurus,” a robotic car-eating transforming dinosaur also put on a show as it devoured a few hapless jalopies for an evening snack.
Friday night’s event is just the kind of family entertainment Tharpe said he’s looking to bring to the race track. After a squabble with the National Stock Car Auto Racing folks in regard to licensing fees, the track chose not to run a NASCAR-sanctioned short-track stock car racing series at the facility in 2015.
Tharpe did say he is in talks with some area short-tracks in hopes of running stock car races “possibly twice a month” at Kil-Kare next season.
“This is part of our new philosophy of bringing fun entertainment that the people want to see,” he said as a pair of monster trucks flew over dirt ramps and crashed down upon some unsuspecting cars below. “This is probably one of the first outdoor Monster Truck shows to come to the Dayton area.
“I grew up watching auto racing events here when the Chrysler family owned this place, and that was how racing was supposed to be. We had large crowds, and each night the fans would go home realizing that they’d truly got their hard-earned money’s worth.
“I hope to bring that kind of family entertainment back to Kil-Kare Raceway.”
Tharpe said fans who show up for Saturday’s Monster Truck event can also catch the quarter midget racing event, held on the adjoining track, for free. The motorsports facility chose not to run a drag racing event this weekend, in order to focus fully on the Monster Truck event.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing this event the right way, so that we can possibly bring an even better show back to the track next year. I’m hoping to see 10-15 monster trucks here then,” he said.
Kil-Kare is located on 1166 Dayton Xenia Rd. Tonight’s event will be a repeat of Friday’s show.
The event, sponsored by Dayton Xenia Auto Parts & Recycling, kicks off with a Pit Party from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, with monster truck qualifying set to get under way at 7 p.m.
Admission is $15 for adults. Kids 12 & under can get in for $5 with a paid adult.