Local news

Raceway crash kills man, 68

Driver apparently lost control of vehicle on road course

An Infiniti sports car spinning out of control struck and killed a 68-year-old Post Falls man Friday afternoon at Spokane County Raceway.

The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. on the track’s 2 1/2-mile road course, where the victim, a contractor, was talking with the racing park’s general manager, Jay Livingston, near the track.

A 46-year-old retired military pilot taking laps in an Infiniti G30 apparently lost control coming out of a curve at the south end of the drag strip and struck the man, Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

The victim was thrown 15 feet and hit a tree. Efforts were made to revive him, but he apparently died from the impact, Reagan said.

The county purchased the property last year and turned it over to Austin Motor Sports Management, owned by Tacoma businessman Bucky Austin, also the owner of Bucky’s Complete Auto Repair.

The victim was working on improvements and talking with Livingston about where to paint lines on the track’s surface. Livingston, who was facing the track, spotted the sports car as it rounded a curve.

The driver “was headed eastbound into the curve to the north and lost control” just before the drag strip, Reagan said.

Livingston tried to pull the man away, but the vehicle struck him.

A driver who was leaving the track said the crash was very loud. The red sports car was badly damaged on the right front, although the impact with the victim appeared to have occurred on the center of the vehicle’s passenger side as the car slid.

The victim’s identity was being withheld by the Sheriff’s Office and the medical examiner’s office until relatives were notified, Reagan said. The identity of the driver also was being withheld Friday.

About 30 sports car drivers of various ages were at the track running practice laps beginning at 8 a.m. Friday. Some were from out of the area. The raceway’s events calendar indicates the track was leased to Scott Adare Motorsports. According to Adare’s Web site, the company sponsors experienced track drivers who bring their own vehicles to drive on the track one Friday a month. Participants with little or no driving experience can sign up for instruction. It was unclear whether the driver was receiving instruction or was experienced.

On Friday night a line of cars waited at the track’s gate for the medical examiner to remove the man’s body and tow away the wrecked car so they could participate in drag races for high school students and alumni.

The park was scheduled today to host its Grand Opening 125 for Super Late Models. Qualifying begins at 5 p.m.

County commissioners 13 months ago voted 2-1 in favor of paying $4.5 million for the 315-acre track, land that critics called a non-essential property. Commissioner Bonnie Mager voted against the purchase, calling it “totally irresponsible.”

County officials have said the 25-year contract with Austin will cover the county’s payments on its debt.

According to previous reports, Austin will pay the county $10,000 a month until 2014, when the monthly rent will increase by 2 percent annually.

Austin also has agreed to pay the county $2 for each ticket sold and guaranteed that the county’s portion of gate proceeds will be at least $150,000 in 2009, $200,000 in 2010 and $250,000 for each of the three years after that.

The facility includes a quarter-mile drag strip, a half-mile oval and the road course where the accident occurred.

Livingston previously said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review that parts of the track were being realigned, with changes to run-off areas and surface repairs.

New concession stands are being installed.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or by e-mail at mikep@spokesman. com. Sara Leaming can be reached at (509) 459-5533 or saral@spokesman.com.

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