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Military families, fans enjoy raceway thrills

Brooke Jordan picked the blue car as her favorite Saturday at Spokane County Raceway.

The BMW sedan wasn’t the fastest as it joined Porsches, Hondas, Chevys and some cars that were amalgamations of several brands as they sped around the 2.5-mile road course. But it was still 8 1/2-year-old Brooke’s favorite.

Brooke sat with her brother, Brandon, and her parents as the cars flew past the grandstand at up to 160 mph during day two of the Spokane Grand Prix. The cars created their own wind as the drivers geared down to catch speed on the straightaway.

The races continue Sunday and admission is free, said Art Metz, of Northwest Motorsports, which teamed up with Northern Quest Resort and Casino to sponsor the three days of road races.

One Porsche driver lost control and rolled a couple times coming out of turn four, creating a huge dust cloud. The race was delayed for several minutes as emergency crews rushed to attend the driver, who was not injured, according to race officials. They did not identify the driver, although according to the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs website, the No. 54 Porsche is driven by Richard Satre.

“We also saw big, pretty airplanes,” said Brooke, the daughter of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Doug Jordan.

A formation of six fighter planes twice flew low over the track as they landed at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, where Brooke and her family live.

Although free to the public, the event mostly benefited families of service members through Operation Spokane Heroes. Race organizers gave free pit passes for all military personnel and their families. They also sold pit passes for $10 to raise money for the charity, which provides support to families of area service members who are currently deployed.

“I wish they did these races all the time,” said Brooke’s mother, Kim Jordan. “I love it out here. It’s fun for these guys.”

The stands only had about 50 people Saturday, but many came and went to both watch the road races and to view several classic cars as part of a custom car show.

Event organizer Steve McLain, also of Northwest Motorsports, said they were pleased with the turnout especially since they only had about three weeks to promote it.

“In terms of its draw we hope it will be the same as Bloomsday. That’s an ambitious goal. But the potential of this kind of event is huge,” he said. “But we are taking baby steps.”

Northwest Motorsports is a local club that has promoted local races since 1959, Metz said. It’s part of the larger International Conference of Sports Car Clubs, which is the sanctioning body for the races.

On Friday, the state Department of Health issued a bottled-water advisory for the raceway because E. coli bacteria was detected in the sink of a staff lavatory.

It had no effect on the race Saturday because the facility does not have public drinking fountains. Bottled water was available for purchased.