Back in 1969, a group of friends decided that there needed to be an alternative to the local racing scene and decided to build a track just across the state line from Fort Smith, Arkansas. The new track would be built on a hill, in Pocola, Oklahoma, over-looking the Poteau and Arkansas River bottoms to the northwest and the city of Pocola to the south.
The new track was built by the late Tillman Evans and named Mighty Mouse Speedway. The task was not an easy one as the hill was mostly solid rock. To get the 'bowl' of the track formed, explosives had to be used to blow apart the rock and to get the required high banking. Construction on Mighty Mouse Speedway started in October of 1970. The new track opened for their first event on May 28th, 1971. The track was dirt and not even fully complete, and even featured some figure eight racing.
Mighty Mouse Speedway was slightly enlarged and paved later in 1971. The thrill of faster speeds on the asphalt and the high banking proved to be a huge success.
The asphalt track was continually drawing cars from not only Arkansas and Oklahoma, but Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Louisiana It was decided that a new name would be in order and a fan naming contest was held. The winning name was "Tri-State Speedway", as the majority of drivers were from those three states. A subsequent logo was created to reflect the name showing the outlines of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Throughout the 70's the track continued to prosper as legendary drivers like the late Larry Phillips, Dick Trickle, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace did battle each week with the local talent like Danny Leatherman, Gary Johnston, Chuck Knight, Johnny Bone, Roy Roberts and Bill Dillard. Mark Martin eventually won the Late Model track championship in 1977 while Rusty Wallace won the Late Model track championship in 1978.
By 1978 the cost of operating an asphalt car, along with the oil embargo, was starting to make it difficult for drivers to field cars. The decision was made to switch to dirt racing again in the middle of the 1979 season. Dirt racing was more affordable for the drivers and provided more "action" for the fans.
The late Cecil Harlan was the owner and promoter for many of those years until he sold the track in 1999. Since then, the track has seen numerous enhancements, including new restrooms, new vending areas, new press box, and a new front straight infield wall which widened the front straight.
The track also has been upgraded through the years with wider turns, better lighting, the "drive-by area," which allows the race winners to pass directly in front of the grandstands within arms reach of their fans. Through the years, the track has continued to be one of the area's biggest family attractions every Saturday night.
From the "Kegger", which starts off the racing season in mid-March, to the big money special races during the season, to the season-ending "Spooker," which has seen over 400 cars attend this now four-day event in October. Tri-State Speedway just keeps going and going. In fact, the 2015 season will mark its 45th consecutive year of racing.
Within the past few years, the track has held series shows from the top level series' in the nation including the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) and both the World of Outlaw Late Models and the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars.
In 2015, the track returned to being sanctioned by the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) for its modified classes and will also feature late model racing sanctioned by the Mid-American Racing Series (MARS), along with sprint car racing with the Oil Capital Racing Series (OCRS).
We cordially invite you to come visit us any time during our racing season, whether it's just to say 'Hi" as your passing through the area, or to come watch the edge-of-your-seat, heart-pounding excitement that is racing at the legendary Tri-State Speedway.