It’s during weeks like this that Billy Swift thinks back to another time, when once again he was burning the candle at both ends trying to get ready for a race.
“I was racing at the Fairgrounds and we spot-welded the steering wheel on the car, but we got busy and never finished the installation,” Swift recalled, some 20 years later.
The wheel eventually came off in Swift’s hands as he battled on the track, knocking him out of the race. “I didn’t wreck the car or anything,” he said, “but I did get so mad I threw the steering wheel across the infield. The crowd really cheered.”
That story came to mind as Swift was on another non-stop merry-go-round schedule preparing for the season’s first race of the Northwest Late Model Racing Association, Saturday night at Stateline Speedway near Post Falls. The superstocks will run the “City Glass 100,” with time trials beginning at 6 p.m. A contingent of local classes will run along with the late models.
Not only is Swift, a Newman Lake resident, preparing his new 1995 Camaro. As recently elected president of the 3-year-old racing association, he is also trying to make sure there are cars to compete against.
The early season debut for the NWLM will probably see about 15 cars ready to take the green flag in the 100-lap feature race. Among them will be defending champ Cory Wolfe of Ronan, Mont., and Swift, the guy who chased Wolfe all season before finishing second in points.
“I understand (Mark) Groskreutz has a new car, too,” Swift said, referring to the 1993 series titlist. Groskreutz already has some seat time this season in his NASCAR Northwest Tour car.
Another racing name from the past, Bill Scott, has dusted off the equipment and plans to campaign a car in the series. Scott also used to race at the Fairgrounds.
A familiar sponsor and color scheme will also be present as Gene Monaco has former crew-chief Kevin Richards at the wheel of an entry. Monaco was the longtime sponsor of Kirk Rogers, who left to pursue an ASA ride this season.
The Spokane County Off-Road Vehicle Park in Airway Heights will be the site this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Spokane Gold Cup.
The ORV Park is located off Highway 2, a mile north of Hayford Road.
“We’ll have approximately 250 entries from all over the Northwest, and among them will be some national champions,” said Spokane Kart Racing spokesman Bob Thompson.
Joey and David Odenthal of Coeur ‘d Alene have a number of national championships to their credit, Thompson said.
The race schedule calls for practice Thursday and Friday (noon to 6 p.m.) on the twisting six-tenths-mile road course. Racing is Saturday and Sunday, with time trials at 9 a.m. and racing at noon.
The track has a spectator area with grandstands. Spectator admission to the ORV Park each day is $3. Pit passes are an additional $7.
Tom Hindley’s first unlimited race turned out pretty much just as he imagined it would be. It was a disaster.
While Hindley came through the Firebird Lake hydroplane opener without any harrowing scrapes with the tight course on the man-made lake, his U-99.9 did not.
“We burned up two motors, one because of electrical problems and the other with salt water,” Hindley said.
The mishap will run boat owner Fred Leland about $30,000 and put the team’s - and Hindley’s - next outing at Detroit’s Gold Cup, June 4, in limbo.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.