HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KAKE)- The Hutchinson racetrack on the Kansas State Fairgrounds is more than one hundred years old. 

"They were racing at the Kansas state fairgrounds before the internal combustion engine existed," said William Nusser, a leader of Save Our Track. "They were racing with horses, and that's why it's impacted so many people.”  

The Hutchinson Grand Nationals races have been on the same track for 67 years.

"Everybody always strives to race [on] this track,” said Bill Barnhart, a Hutchinson racer and fan.

 But some big changes could be right around the racing bend. 

The Kansas State Fair Board first decided to demolish the Hutchinson track at a meeting back in November 2022. 

"It's like a historic racetrack, and I think it would just be a real tragedy to have it demolished, much less to be demolished in kind of a rush and a hurry with minimal input from local citizens,” said Paul Waggoner, a Kansas State House representative for District 104.

"It kinda felt like we were blindsided by it, even though they've been dangling it in front of us for ten years,” said Tony Law, a Hutchinson native and racing fan.

Track supporters say the decision to demolish the track came with no public input. 

"We are sitting on 18 acres of land that we can't use except for three days a year for the races. This would allow us to free up additional parking, additional vendors, just a lot of different things,” said Bryan Schulz, the Kansas State Fair general manager.

Supporters of keeping the track are looking for an alternative to demolition.

"Once you demolish it, it's gone. I mean there is no going back. And so we're really asking them for due consideration for taking this very seriously because it is a very serious matter, not just for race fans but for the local community and really the state of Kansas because this is a one-of-a-kind historic racetrack,” said Waggoner.

The 10,000-person seating and ½ mile track make the Hutchinson racetrack extremely unique to the area. 

"All of us share a common interest, because of the history and memories-what it means to us, our families, the community- it's not just about the obscure hobby of racing,” said Nusser.

The Kansas State Fair Board has brought up financial concerns saying the Grand Nationals are not profitable, but track supporters question those numbers.

"I think the numbers that the state fair management has presented to the board are not actually accurate, that actually the Hutch nationals do make a profit for the state fair, and that I think it's a real shame to be making a decision based on inaccurate numbers,” said Waggoner. 

"When you go through the financials and some of these expenses…” explained Nusser.

Organizers say there appears to be certain allocations to show the event is losing money. When looking at facility rental fees of $10,000 especially, people have questions. 

"Who did the 10 thousand dollars go to? It didn't go to anybody because you own the facility- if I rent my house to myself it's a circular motion- so you may take this as an expense against this event but it's coming back as income to you, you'd be writing a check to the Kansas state fair,” said Nusser.

In fact, while the state fair does have the demolition budgeted in already- the board has no specific plans for funding the building of a new facility 

"The dollars for the renovation to the grandstand would be something we would either fund raise for or work with the state to accumulate those dollars,” said Schulz.

Now the community has a final chance to save the track. The track has never had an official full-time promoter and the state fair is open to hearing proposals from candidates. 

"If we had someone that really promoted this track like they do the other buildings around the fairgrounds I see no reason why we couldn't have 6-8 really good races throughout the year,” said Bill Barnhart, Hutchinson racer and fan.

The state fair board has agreed to hear proposals from promoters and track operators about alternative plans for the upcoming racing season if the proposals are sent to the board before October 31st. 

"Let's not rush into this- let's give it some thought and let's give it a few years with promotion and let's see what we can get done to get some good events going and just give it a try,” said  Barnhart.

There is still hope for the track

"If it was being used for more than three days a year and it were a potential profit center for the Kansas State Fair- that would be something different," said Schulz. 

The proposals will be heard by the Kansas State Fair Board at their November 14th meeting, and public opinion will also be allowed at this meeting. There is no specific time set for the meeting yet, but we will update you as we know more.

For more information on how to help save the track click here. 

Some of the footage used in this story is thanks to Blue Barns Productions who have a documentary out now about the Hutchinson track- click here to watch.