We are very sorry for the people impacted by the decision to cancel this year’s event, especially anyone who was planning to attend or participate in the event. Anyone who has purchased a ticket will receive a full refund. Because of the concerns expressed by some about the reasons that Operation Octane was canceled, we feel it is important to outline both the timing and rationale for our decision.
First and foremost, Kansas Speedway’s top priority for every event on our property is safety for participants and spectators. Safely conducting motorsports events, which have inherent risks, requires good communication and buy-in from everyone involved. We do not compromise on safety issues. Following last year’s Operation Octane at Kansas Speedway, we held a follow-up meeting with WYCO Racing, who served as the promoter for the event, as well as playing various roles in running the event itself. We proposed a number of changes in order to conduct an event in 2017, many of which were related to improving communication between WYCO Racing and Kansas Speedway to avoid “surprises” that increase risk to spectators, participants (drivers), and those running the event. WYCO Racing agreed that they would comply with each and every requirement we set forth prior to or in running the 2017 event. Based on such assurances, June 24 was selected as the date for the 2017 event and WYCO Racing began promoting the event.
Once WYCO agreed to implement the safety and communication related changes discussed above, Kansas Speedway began preparations for the 2017 event. Such preparations included a considerable investment in bleachers exclusively for this event, as well consulting with NHRA drag racer Doug Herbert to ensure that we were doing everything possible to conduct safe drag racing on pit road. He provided several recommendations to us, all of which WYCO Racing agreed to.
Unfortunately, as the event approached, the Kansas Speedway team became increasingly concerned about continued poor (or in some cases non-existent) communication from WYCO Racing (which was one of the major problems discussed following last year’s event). Despite our repeated requests for updates, information and solutions to specific safety issues, we received no reply from WYCO Racing. The following is the timeline of the final events that ultimately led to the decision to cancel the June 24 event:
WYCO Racing sent an email to Kansas Speedway with some information and questions about the event on May 30, 2017 at 8:31 PM. The primary contact at the Speedway was busy preparing for Rockfest and had not received the necessary information in prior attempts. As such Pat Warren, the President of Kansas Speedway, responded on May 31 at 4:06 PM with answers to the questions posed by WYCO Racing. Warren’s response also included additional questions requiring a response for the event to proceed. WYCO Racing did not respond to that email.
Because there had been no reply to the May 31 communication, on June 6, 2017 at 4:36 PM, a follow-up email was sent to representatives of WYCO Racing. That email requested a response to Warren’s May 31 email, and expressed the ever increasing serious concerns about WYCO Racing’s lack of communication, especially as it concerned the safety initiatives WYCO had agreed to implement after last year’s event. This email also contained a deadline for receiving the information of Friday, June 9, 2017 at 5:00 PM CDT, and said that the event might be canceled if the necessary information was not provided. WYCO Racing never responded to this email. In fact, the only communication from anyone affiliated with WYCO Racing after May 30 was related to providing a food truck or trucks for the event. It was disappointing and confusing to everyone at Kansas Speedway working on the event that WYCO Racing seemed to prioritize food trucks over communication and safety.
We knew that some spectators and fans were making travel plans and other preparations to attend or participate in the event. We felt we needed to move as quickly as possible once it became apparent to us that WYCO Racing was either unwilling or unable to provide the level of communication and coordination we feel is necessary to run a safe and successful event. Accordingly, at 5:07 PM on June 9th, WYCO Racing was notified that due to our safety concerns, largely caused by a lack of communication, we had made the difficult decision to cancel the event.
Almost immediately following such notification, WYCO Racing contacted Pat Warren with Kansas Speedway by phone asking that the decision be reconsidered. Repeated promises were made regarding communication and getting the necessary information to Kansas Speedway. In spite of the statements made by WYCO on these phone calls, as of the time of this writing, Kansas Speedway has yet to receive that information.
We do not take these decisions lightly. We understand the impact this has on both fans and spectators. With absolutely no communication or response from WYCO Racing to our repeated requests for information, this was our only reasonable choice. As such, we wanted to notify everyone who might be impacted as quickly as possible.
We are very sorry about the impact that this decision may have had on those who were looking forward to participating in or watching Operation Octane, and hope that these facts provide some clarity regarding the situation.