WILLIAMSON – Leasha Johnson, Director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, officiated at a meeting last Thursday to finalize the details of the Twin Branch Drag Strip that is located at the Twin Branch surface mine in Mingo County, just off U.S. 119 between Williamson and Logan.
Those in attendance in addition to Ms. Johnson from the MCRA included Andy Dillon and Paul Pinson. Mingo County Commissioners John Mark Hubbard, Diann Hannah, Greg “Hootie” Smith by phone, and Leigh Ann Ray, grants coordinator. Billy Runyon from Consol was also in attendance.
Consol has played a major role in the funding and development of the dragstrip. Consol’s financial and development contributions to the project represent a post mine land use project in accordance with Mingo County’s Land Use Master Plan. Also present was Environmental permitting consultant, Misty Marcum from Mingo County as well as J.B. Heflin, who is with the Mingo County PSD. Senator Art Kirkendoll, was there from Logan County.
“He and Logan County officials have been instrumental in developing the Twin Branch drag strip as a regional project with the potential for benefiting the economies in several southern West Virginia counties,” stated State Senator Mark Maynard (R-Wayne). Rocky Adkins from the Logan County Economic Development Authority was also present.
Senator Maynard grew up around drag racing, his father racing since the late 50’s. The first drag race he attended was at Riverside Dragstrip in Proctorville,Ohio, watching his father compete, before it closed in the 1970’s. Maynard’s father then entered the sport of sand drag, racing semi-professionally from 1980-1985 touring Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennesse, Viringia and West Virginia.
“It was a dream come true for an eight year old boy to be in the middle of this,” Maynard said. “These inspirations led to Senator Maynard being hired as a ‘fly in’ crew member for Jim Head’s NHRA Nitro Funny Car in 2006 and he was at every national event in the country.”
Senator Maynard has raced many different cars over the years, and in the fall of 2008 started a series that would keep racing off the streets and get individuals to compete in the safe confines of a dragstrip, known “Fastest Streetcar Shootout.”
While Senator Maynard worked for NHRA teams including John Bojec and kept the streetcar shootout going until 2014, when he had to concentrate his time on his district and the state of W. Va. after being elected to the State Senate. He said he is very eager to help get the Twin Branch Drag Strip finalized and will use his connections in NHRA and IHRA to help do so.
Also in attendance was Mingo county native, Carl Kirk. Kirk has a very long history in drag racing. He started racing in the stock class in 1955 and continued until 1974. Winning his class nine (9) times at the U.S. Nationals and won eliminator in 1968 in Englishtown. After 1974 he started racing jet boats until 1978. Starting in 1980, Carl’s son Doug took over the driving. In 1987 Doug Kirk moved from dragster to pro-stock and won two (2) world championships – the first in 1991 and the second in 1993. Since 2000 they have only raced as time would allow. Kirk has many connections in the drag racing world, and is excited to help carry this project to completion, according to Maynard.
Topics of discussion were finalizing some paperwork with the DEP, final connections of the utilities, and attempts to secure a knowledgeable track operator, according to Senator Maynard.