Local news


Raceway contract should be done next week

County already working informally with operators

Officials expect to complete a contract next week for management of Spokane County Raceway Park, where racing is to begin May 22.

County commissioners planned to appropriate $200,000 today for previously authorized safety improvements that already are under construction at the Airway Heights raceway.

Additional improvements, which could more than double the outlay, are on hold for analysis by the new raceway operator tentatively selected Feb. 23.

County officials already are working informally with the new organization – a partnership of two veteran track operators, Ronald Hodgson and Charles Allen.

Hodgson operates the Castrol Raceway at Edmonton, Alberta, while Allen runs the Firebird International Raceway at Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix.

Their Spokane operations manager, Cindy Gibbs-Arias, told county commissioners the May 22 opening is later than hoped but satisfactory under the track’s affiliation with the National Hot Rod Association.

Most of the planned raceway improvements are for spectator safety. They range from fences to stop flying debris and to keep people out of dangerous areas to replacing stairway rails and putting the concession-stand propane tank where it’s supposed to be.

County officials discovered the tank was inside the concession stand, in violation of safety regulations. They planned to install plumbing necessary to move the tank outside.

“That’s a fire-code thing and that just plain needs to get done,” risk manager Steve Bartel told commissioners two weeks ago.

Parks Director Doug Chase, who oversees the racetrack, said Monday that he hopes the current round of improvements will be completed in three to four weeks. He said there is no timetable for other planned projects.

Not including proposals to improve the tracks and reroute the road course, Chase said, all of the planned work is roughly estimated to cost $450,000 to $500,000. But he said firm estimates haven’t been completed for some of the projects.

County officials plan to sell bonds for the improvements, and hope to repay the debt with track revenue.

Hodgson and Allen have offered the county 10 percent of gross annual revenue in excess of $1.5 million, plus guaranteed annual payments of $73,346 – at least $733,460 over 10 years.

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