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, the late 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. You can watch a video of one of the last major asphalt races, the 1978 Arkansas State Championship, which saw the late Larry Phillips, in his first race back after the big fire, the late Dick Trickle, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin, as well as others vying for the big paycheck. Even though the video is a little “rough”, there really wasn’t “video” back then, it was film. Credit goes to the original filmographer of this race. You can see it by click here: https://youtu.be/PbwpXZFLsyw
The late Cecil Harlan was the owner and promoter for many years when he purchased the track in 1980 until until he sold the track in 2001. In 2001, Jay Franklin and Todd Martin purchased the track from Cecil and operated it for a few years. The track was leased by a few different promoters until 2015.
During those times, 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.
In 2015, with the change in ownership to Carey Menasco, new concession stands were built, as well as a new track office, grandstands were repaired and new outside walls were added. In 2018, Michael and Jerri Hoover purchased the speedway and have continued to make improvements to the facilities.
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 2020 season will mark its 50th consecutive year of racing.
Through the years, he track has continued to host touring series' like he Ca$h Money SDS Late Models, along with sprint car racing with the Lucas Oil ASCS Series and national USRA Modifieds from the USMTS. We've also head races with the World of Outlaws, both late modes and sprints, as well as the MARS and CompCam Late Models.
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 mighty Tri-State Speedway.