Spin Control

County has new specs to run track

.Spokane County is looking for a new operator of its racetrack who will have to have something the last operator did not – experience running a track.

A request for qualifications to bid on the contract for the Spokane County Raceway Park was released Wednesday and the lease could be awarded by mid February, County Parks Director Doug Chase said. Any bidder must provide significantly more information on finances than the county requested last year, and expect increased oversight of track operations by the county.

“I think it’s safe to say” the county learned from problems it had with Bucky Austin, who received the operator’s lease for the track early this year, Chase said.

Austin ordered renovations that were twice what the county expected for 2009, failed to obtain the required bonds, then failed to pay local contractors more than $1 million for renovations performed at the West Plains facility. Commissioners cancelled his lease this fall.

Earlier this week, six contractors sued the county to recover the costs of renovations they said they made and Austin didn’t pay for. County officials said they are still auditing documents and work before paying any bills.

The county already hired people on a temporary basis to book some events into the facility’s three courses next year, Chase said. They have tentatively scheduled 15 auto events and 28 motorcycle events at the road course, 69 events at the drag track and 18 events at the oval track, which the person who receives the contract will be finalize.

The tentative schedule for the oval track includes a race in NASCAR’s Camping World West series in mid September, Chase said.

The request for qualifications includes the schedule, as well as safety improvements to the oval track that county commissioners want made.

Applicants would have a meeting to ask questions of county officials on Jan. 6 and submit bids by Jan. 20. They would be interviewed the week of Feb. 1, and the contract could be awarded by commissioners the week of Feb. 15.

Among the people booking events for the 2010 season was Joe Doellefeld, co-owner of Stateline Speedway, who bid on the original operator’s contract and is expected to bid on the new contract, Chase said.

“I’d expect that he’d be qualified. But there are many others out there that would be qualified, too,” Chase said. The fact that Doellefeld operates a track that’s relatively close to the county’s facility would be a prohibition or a preference, the parks director said.
 




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