Ozarks International Raceway is set to bring motorsports to Missouri

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Ozarks International Raceway mustang front three-quarter
Ozarks International Raceway

J.R. Pesek had been visiting the Ozarks in southern Missouri for a while when he realized it would be the perfect spot to build a race track. “There aren’t any tracks in the middle of the U.S., and there seemed to be some opportunities in the Ozarks,” he recalls. “Then a farm that we passed on our way to visit the Lake of the Ozarks went on the market and it seemed to be the perfect place to build a track.”

Pesek didn’t want to build a track in the middle of nowhere; it was important that his track be in a “destination” area, where there would be plenty of opportunities for activities other than racing. “The Ozarks really has it all,” he explains. “There are watersports on the Lake of the Ozarks, beautiful natural areas, and Branson is just a couple hours away. We didn’t have to create an atmosphere—it was already there!”

After spending the last three years visiting tracks all over the country, Pesek had a good idea of how he wanted to configure the track. “We wanted to have the best of everything—what features do people like about these different tracks?” he explains. “As drivers, you enjoy going to a track because it has the Kink or the Chicane or the Corkscrew. Why not build a track that has it all?” So that was exactly what he did. “I took all the parts that I liked and put them into this track.”

Named Ozarks International Raceway, it is located in Gravois Mills, Missouri, and encompasses 659 acres. The track is 3.87 miles in length, with 19 turns; in one lap, the course rises and falls eight times with elevation changes of 80 feet. “It’s a really technical, fast, flowing track,” says Pesek.

Initially, Pesek had envisioned that the course would be built in three phases over three years. “We had so much interest from various racing series and groups that we have decided to compress our schedule into 1.5 years.”

Ozarks International Raceway
Ozarks International Raceway

The original farm’s turkey barns have been converted into 56 garages; a two-story race control tower and another building with a media center and classrooms have also been built. There are suites that can be rented during races, and later Pesek has plans to build 18 to 20 team houses that can each accommodate 14 people. “We also envision a number of two-bedroom cabins that will go on 85 acres in the northeast corner of the property. Since it’s the Ozarks, the cabins will have a rustic style that is in keeping with the feeling of the area.”

Ozarks International Raceway
Ozarks International Raceway

Pesek is aiming for a completion date of summer 2021. When he’s not working on the track, he is campaigning the #40 Ford Mustang GT4 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, with his son James and Chad McCumbee driving. “I think we are going to be strong and competitive this year,” notes Pesek

“The outpouring of support we have received from the people in the area is really encouraging,” says Pesek. “We are really looking forward to opening the track and having events, not just races, and contributing to local economy.”

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