After a yearlong closure in 2023, Kansas International Dragway, a well-known NHRA-accredited track, will reopen for its 60th season in 2024.
Founded in 1963 by Marceles and Helen Simon, the dragway fondly known by generations of South-Central Kansans as “International” or “KID” has left a substantial mark in the Midwest United States drag racing community with multiple NHRA records set on its track. Marceles and Helen’s grandchildren saw the overwhelming impact 2023’s closure had on the racing community and knew they had to preserve their grandparent’s legacy.
After years of leasing operations of Kansas International Dragway to others, they decided to reinvest to operate the track themselves rather than leasing operations as in the past. They are pulling together the right resources for a solid 2024 season, including the hiring of General Manager Kenny Ault. The Simon Family hopes to see familiar faces, as well as children and grandchildren of familiar faces, at the track.
It was a tough year for drag racing in the Sunflower State. With Kansas seeing closures of SRCA Dragstrip in Great Bend and Kansas International before the season began, plus Heartland Park in Topeka closed following the 2023 season.
Great Bend was home to the first-ever NHRA National Championship at its airport in 1955, and national title winners have always had success in the state, setting NHRA records and delighting race fans. Drag racing isn’t the only motorsport heavily steeped in Kansas, as Kansas International lies adjacent to Bar to Bar Autocross and just a few miles from 81 Speedway dirt track racing, all of which boast strong influences in national activities.
Kansas International Dragway was a second home to General Manager Kenny Ault as he was growing up. “When I was a little kid, my dad said I was always in a hurry for him to get the car off the trailer so I could drag race my Hot Wheels,” Ault said with a chuckle.
Since then, when Kenny wasn’t serving two tours in Iraq and training cadets at West Point for the U.S. Army, Ault has been into drag racing in south-central Kansas. Along with racing, Ault was the Marketing Director and track announcer for Mid America Dragway, announcing three NHRA National Events, the 2023 double divisional at Heartland Park, and hosted the first-ever NHRA Youth Education Services Program at MAD.
“I’m hoping to bring back the magic I felt every time we came to the track and put in 110% to honor God with this blessing to fulfill the Simon Family’s wishes to bring KID back to life,” said Ault.
Helping create that childhood magic while focusing on family and community, Ault is
bringing the NHRA YES (Youth & Education Services) Program founded by the NHRA in 1989 to KID. According to the NHRA Website, YES is the only full-time motorsports education program focusing on goals and continued education while students learn more about STEM career opportunities as they apply to NHRA Drag Racing. Youth participants will have opportunities to get up close and personal to race cars, and drivers live at the track.
Kansas International Dragway 2024 Season will focus on driver and spectator experience as an affordable, family-friendly venue for entertainment and community-building throughout south-central Kansas. The 2024 schedule includes a three-race Heads-Up series beginning in April, as well as a seven-race bracket series and four Friday Night Grudge nights beginning in May.
In addition to series racing, other events include the track YES program in April, Import Face-Off in May, Fight the Fuzz with area Law Enforcement and Summer Nationals in July, Imports in the Heartland in September, and the Junior Drag Racing League (JDRL) Sunflower Showdown in October. Also returning to KID in July will be the 53rd Truett & Osborn Bike Drags in August. Test and Tunes will be held on Friday nights and bracket race days.
All are invited to join in the fun, either racing or spectating at Kansas International Dragway, located just a quarter mile west of Ridge Road at 7800 W 61st Street North in Maize.