Spokane County Raceway's oval track manager, Larry Bertrand, took a vacation last week, only to return and face a firestorm of rumors he’d been dismissed and the oval was facing closure.
One thing Spokane County Raceway oval track manager Larry Bertrand and Jessie Taylor, the president of the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association, want heard across the region heading into Saturday’s 75-lap main event: SCR is open for business at its half-mile oval and INSSA is eager to return for its second appearance of the season.
Bertrand took a vacation last week, only to return and face a firestorm of rumors he’d been dismissed and the oval was facing closure. With solid car count and fans in the seats each week, he wonders aloud if the past reputation of the overall facility isn’t part of the negativity regarding SCR that echoes in the community.
“There has always been a lot of rumors floating around about the old (Spokane) Raceway Park (the facilities former moniker), its owner and the way the community was treated by that group when it came to business dealings and the racers in general,” Bertrand said. “I believe that (rumors) will continue until we make our own success here at the oval and then be judged on that success solely by what this staff is able to do out here.”
Taylor had also heard the rumors and read that at least one traveling series had publicly acknowledged it was not running on July 18. He said the impression left by that group was the track was in turmoil and the series should stay away.
INSSA felt otherwise.
“Working with Larry, we’ve had some success as a group,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotten some good help out there at the track to pull this weekend off, after so much had been said about a potential cancellation and track closure. I believe in time, cooperation like we’ve had the last few days will bring success to the overall track.”
INSSA plans to be there Saturday to put on a Super Late Model show fit for the high banks of the half-mile. To say Taylor and his group are thrilled to be racing this weekend – when it appeared just the opposite was possible – is an understatement.
“We’re tickled to be able to even be running out there,” he said. “Being able to race at SCR is extremely important to the overall success of our locally based series. We travel to Kalispell, but most of our races are between SCR and Stateline. With SCR being the biggest track we run, it gives us so many options for sponsors and teams that it makes for awesome potential.”
Having a strong fan base in the greater Spokane area is important for both racing leaders.
“Outside of a race where cold weather was a factor in turnout, we’ve had the opportunity to grow our fan base each week and the car counts are up week after week,” Bertrand said.
The track’s late-model feature division attracted 19 cars three weeks ago, the largest local late-model field in the Northwest for a weekly event.
“All of this should bring in a good turnout for this weekend’s race, and with the support of local businesses such as Zip’s, who sponsors our Pony Stock class that features upward of 20 cars, we believe that the remainder of the year will go very well,” Bertrand said.
INSSA’s leadership added that local businesses and the potential access to the half-mile could only add to the growth at SCR.
“Being able to run at the half-mile is important, because we can get our race team sponsors and series supporters who may have businesses here in the city and in Idaho to come to the track that is closest to their backyard,” Taylor said.
Fans will see a tight race with three drivers separated by 55 points in the chase for the 2009 INSSA championship.
Two-time champion David Garber comes off an ARCA West series win in Kalispell, Mont., last weekend.
A tough outing in the April 25 season opener has forced Garber to play catch-up to points leader Jeff Fenton, whom he trails by 37 markers while staying just ahead of the series’ Mr. Consistency, Greg McKinley, who is just 18 points behind Garber.