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NEWS AND UPDATES:  news post

Placerville Speedway bids farewell to Jody Gray/ Welcomes new Fairgrounds CEO Kathy Dunkak


El Dorado Fairgrounds entrance sign

By Gary Thomas


Placerville, CA…For the first time since Russell Motorsports Inc. assumed management in 2016 the Placerville Speedway is set to work with somebody new at the helm of the El Dorado County Fairgrounds this year.


Long-time Fairgrounds CEO Jody Gray recently announced her retirement, which paves the way for Kathy Dunkak to now assume the position.


“After 20 years, I have decided to retire,” stated Gray. “It has been a very hard decision to make, however, I have other business interests that I would like to spend more time on and would like to lessen my load. Lucky for me, I was involved in helping the Board of Directors choose my replacement. That was not hard, as Kathy Dunkak has been my Deputy Manager for many years and we work so well together, that this will be an easy transition for all.”


Kami Arnold of RMI spoke about Gray retiring and the relationship they’ve built over the last several years. “Looking back, as newbies to promoting, we were fortunate to have Jody as our CEO. She was patient and took the time to educate us on policies and procedures. We shared common goals of making improvements. Jody was gracious and always willing to listen and work with us. We will miss Jody and her infectious, positive attitude but wish her well and hope she enjoys her retirement. Maybe we will see her at a race here and there.”


During Gray’s 20-year tenure she was a big part of several upgrades and improvements around the fairgrounds, including the racetrack.


“There were many projects on the fairgrounds, but with regards to the track, the main goal we shared with her was constructing new pit restrooms on the backstretch,” Arnold continued. “It was a long process, but seeing it come to fruition is rewarding and to have them nearly done prior to her retirement is rewarding as well. Throughout our time at Placerville Speedway there have been many projects; Jody was instrumental in helping us get resources to repair the drainage in turn 4. She also utilized grant funds to repair the wells and water tower. She is very forward thinking and proactive. The new RV Park is a product of her vision that became a reality. The fairgrounds is a large property, with a lot of infrastructure and she was very cognizant of maintaining the buildings and grounds.”


As noted, new CEO Kathy Dunkak is no stranger to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, having served as the Deputy Manager since 2017. She has also filled several different roles including security for the fair, working in the maintenance department and performing bookkeeping in the office among others.

After growing up in Davis she moved to El Dorado County in 1989 and was part of the team that ran the old Home and Garden Show from ’89 through 2006.


“I absolutely love our fairgrounds and look forward to continuing to maintain the beautiful setting, as well as work on some of our infrastructure challenges,” Dunkak stated. “I would certainly love to find more parking for the fairgrounds, I feel it is imperative to our growth. Jody Gray left the fairgrounds in the best possible position and I am so grateful for that. I learned an incredible amount from Jody. She was an amazing mentor and is still a dear friend to me.”


Dunkak has attended the races at Placerville Speedway and spoke about the family atmosphere that it entails. “The improvements that Scott and Kami have assembled make the track so much more than simply just a speedway. It is a family, and I love that feeling. It’s extremely important for the community.” She then joked, “I also love the chicken strips, so I can’t go to a race without getting them.”


Arnold and Russell Motorsports Inc. is excited to work with Dunkak this season and in the years to come. “We look forward to and feel fortunate to work with Kathy. She has been at the Fairgrounds for a long time and we already have an established relationship. She is familiar with what we do at Placerville Speedway, so we don't expect to experience any drastic changes. Like Jody, Kathy understands what it takes to maintain the enormous property. We feel like we have a good working relationship with Kathy and are enthused to have her as the new CEO.”


The Placerville Speedway season gets underway with a Test and Tune on March 12th before the opening championship point race presented by Hoosier Racing Tires commences on March 19th. In competition on opening night will be Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Ltd. Late Models, Pure Stocks and the Mini Trucks.

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