Local news

Raceway event called off

Auto racing group cancels contest after reports about track’s ‘hard time’

A race scheduled for July 18 at Spokane County Raceway was canceled this week in what the sponsoring group called a “mutual agreement” with management of the county-owned track.

The announcement comes less than a day after the track operator said no races would be canceled for the season.

Cancellation of the Northwest Pro4 Alliance race, which would have featured four-cylinder cars with as many as 30 drivers competing on the park’s oval track, was announced on that group’s Web site and in e-mails to its racing teams.

“I’m sorry to say that after several long discussions, and with the total cooperation of Spokane County Raceway, we have decided to cancel the July 18th Northwest Pro4 Alliance date at SCR,” wrote Bob Coply, of Boise, the alliance’s president. “This decision was made in an effort to allow SCR the time they need to adjust the Oval Track schedule and to develop their business plan to help meet the potential of this excellent facility.”

Late Tuesday, Coply said he worried he wouldn’t have enough cars, and hoped to reschedule the event for later this summer.

Bucky Austin of Austin Motorsports, who has an operating agreement with Spokane County to run the track, said the announcement came as a surprise to him.

“I don’t have a clue,” Austin said in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “I don’t know anything about that.”

The oval track’s manager has the authority to cancel the event but had not informed him of any such decision, Austin added.

Jay Livingston, manager for track operations, said the track did not cancel the event, but insisted Coply elected to move it to a later date.

Brad Carpenter, of Lewiston, the alliance’s chief financial officer, said discussions about whether to cancel the race took place over the holiday weekend after reports that the oval track was “having a hard time.” The decision was “a mutual agreement.”

“I don’t know exactly how things are going (at the track),” Carpenter said. “We didn’t want to go race and have them say they didn’t have the money to pay us.”

Contractors have filed notices with the county of liens totaling more than $1 million for work done at the facility. On Monday, Austin met with county staff to discuss the liens and the fact that a bond that would guarantee those payments – and that was required in his operating agreement – was not obtained before work started. Austin said after the meeting that the oval track was not doing as well as the other two courses, but he said no races would be canceled this season.

He said work invoices were being reviewed and all contractors would be paid in installments, with payment complete by Nov. 1.

An attorney for two major contractors, John Black, said extending payments for five months was unfair to contractors.

Another racing association, the American Speed Association/Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association, is still scheduled to bring its racers to the county raceway park July 18.

Mike Sullivan, ASA/NSRA director, said his group will race as long as the track can prove it has insurance and prize money for winners. After the Pro4 group announced its race was canceled, Sullivan said he started receiving calls about rumors that the oval track was closing.

“Obviously something’s up,” he said. But his group has a contract with the park for the July 18 event, and “I have high hopes” it will happen, he said.

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