The power boat Appian Renegade belched and died on Lake Coeur d’Alene Tuesday, as if old sentiments about local hydroplane racing were in control.
Spokane promoters fired up the 3,000 horsepower boat amid slush and snow to show the City Council how gentrified unlimited hydroplane racing has become. The races, held here from 1958 to 1968, are remembered more for rioting among the crowds than the thrill of competition.
Fuel problems killed Tuesday’s demonstration less than halfway through the first lap. Promoters, who want to put the Lake City on the 1996 professional hydroplane racing circuit, got further with the City Council Tuesday night.
Only Dixie Reid opposed a motion to have the city’s general services committee measure public sentiment and propose a list of conditions for an annual three-day race meet. But national racing commissioner Bill Doner was warned repeatedly that the public probably won’t welcome the racing revival.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle, from my viewpoint, to put it in the city of Coeur d’Alene,” said Mayor Al Hassell.
Coeur d’Alene resident Ann Andreason reminded the council that the largest voter turnout in the city’s history centered around a 1985 advisory ballot on hydroplane racing. Tourism magnate Duane Hagadone wanted to have hydroplane racing on the lake and viewing grandstands on Tubbs Hill. The idea was defeated by a 3 to 1 margin.
Andreason questioned why news of the racing request broke on Election Day, instead of coming up in time for City Council candidates to be polled on the issue.
Council members insisted they knew nothing until last week.
Craig Frost, a Spokane aviator and boat enthusiast, said he’s been pushing the idea for about a month and first talked to the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce 2-1/2 weeks ago. Since then, he’s talked to council members and Kootenai County commissioners, he said.
There won’t be any quick decisions, Hassell said earlier in the day, just before he and Councilman Kevin Packard went up in Frost’s helicopter for a view of the demonstration.
In other business, the council:
Voted to skip a test well on Honeysuckle Avenue and go ahead and drill a production drinking-water well at a cost of $60,000. The odds of finding water there are quite high.
Agreed to set hours at Skateboard Park from 8 a.m. to an hour after sunset.
Voted to limit parking on Hubbard Street just north of Northwest Boulevard.
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