Once the spring and summer sun disappears and the Deming Speedway lights turn on, illuminating the track's one-sixth-mile clay bullring, a concoction of revving engines, gasoline and motor oil creates a certain mystique race fans can't help but revel in.
Sprint cars rip around the short track spewing dirt into the air much to the delight of the hundreds of roaring fans drawn to Friday night sprint-car racing.
The production out at the resting track off Mount Baker Highway wasn't always as grand, and for 46-year-old driver Dwayne Mackey, whose ties to the track are arguably as close as anyone's, he remembers just how far Deming Speedway has come throughout the decades.
"It's been a great little transition to see the growth," Mackey said in a phone interview. "The facilities have changed tremendously, from racing on Sunday afternoons with the heat and now to Fridays under the lights, it's been a huge transition there."
Mackey's father, Pat Mackey, was an original owner of the track with current owner Paul Lemley, and Dwayne got his start racing soon after Pat acquired the track when he was 9 years old.
"Back then we were driving around in glorified go-karts," Dwayne said. "Suspension was very minimal to none, and that's what they were - glorified go-karts with motorcycle engines. It's been a part of my life since as early as I can remember. When my dad first got into it, I remember going to a guy's house and getting the first car (Pat) purchased in 1973. It was just a group of guys at that point getting together on Sundays playing out in the field."
Dwayne has been racing ever since he got his first car, and a lot has changed since. But the 38-year veteran will be ready to go when the Deming Speedway season kicks off Friday, April 4, for Pacific Power Batteries Night.
Friday's racing is the first of 26 scheduled racing nights between the opener and the season-ending championships on Sept. 20. The summer slate will be highlighted by the 2014 Clay Cup National, which runs July 17-19.
Lemley said the same racing slate is expected from last year with the addition of a few midget-car races.
Dwayne is expecting to take full advantage of Deming's racing calendar this season. For the first time in nearly 15 years, he's looking forward to running in every 1,200-class race.
"I'm real excited," Dwayne said. "We normally have done partial seasons with work being so busy and family stuff."
This season, Dwayne's family will enjoy an even more expanded role at Deming.
Dwayne's 10-year-old son, Colin, who for the first time worked in the pits last year, is looking to get into a car and start racing this summer, making the Mackeys a third-generation Deming Speedway family.
Success in season championships have eluded Dwayne since he started racing. Third was his top points finish, which he said happened around the mid 1990s. Still, he's captured his share of individual race wins.
Most notably, he won both the A-Mains on Thursday and Friday night during preliminaries of the 2009 Clay Cup.
"There is a ton of good memories," Dwayne said. "Anytime you win a bigger race it stands out, but we've won on normal nights throughout the years."
This season Dwayne's hoping those normal-night wins add up and he can finally claim that season-championship crown
He'll undoubtedly implement lessons learned from Pat, who retired from racing in the late 1980s before winning midget titles in 1978 and '79.
"When I was growing up in school, I tried to watch and learn and even nights on in the shop working on cars and what not, I learned a lot of life lessons and qualities that carry on today," said Dwayne of learning from his dad.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
2014 RACE SEASON
When: Most Friday nights from April 4 through Sept. 20
Gates Open: 5 p.m.
Racing Starts: 7 p.m.
Single-race tickets: Adults $11, Juniors (8-17) and Seniors (65 and older) $9, Children (7 and under) free
Season tickets: Adults $264, Juniors and Seniors $216
Season highlights: Mid-Season Championship and Fireworks (July 11), Clay Cup Nationals (July 17-19), Season Championships (Sept. 20)
More information: demingspeedway.com
1,200s: Jared Gundersen
600s: Liam Ryan
600 Restricted: Tristin Thomas
Kasey Kahne Junior Sprints: Lynden Lebedynski
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.