Spokane County Raceway’s oval track program has burst onto the regional racing scene this year with strong car counts, flocks of fans in the seats and a growing reputation as a place to race no matter the type of car.
With two ovals in the area, many drivers have been able to go between Stateline Speedway and SCR for a racing schedule that gives plenty of opportunity to compete against their peers.
Stateline’s showcase event for many years has been the Idaho 200. Like other tracks in the Northwest, the Post Falls facility aims to make the race an attraction featuring the best late model talent over one action-packed weekend.
This weekend SCR enters the 200-lap realm with a payout of more than $8,000 in prize money to the winner with the top three set to split-up more than $15,000. Starting the event pays a late model team $500 and with the strong purse comes plenty of interest from the best drivers in the region, including Gary Lewis, Jeff Jefferson, Shane Mitchell and Ryan Wells.
The focus of the weekend is on Saturday’s Spokane 200 main event, but tonight’s 100-lap championship race has plenty on the line for three drivers.
Yakima’s Erick Hargraves, Airway Heights native Braeden Havens and Newman Lake’s Blake Williams are separated by 11 points. Each has taken a checkered flag this season, with Havens riding momentum off a victory in the division’s most recent main event. Hargraves, the division’s points leader, is battle-tested, having won titles at Yakima Speedway. Williams leads the ICAR Late Model Series championship standings and won last weekend at Stateline Speedway.
A large field of cars is expected tonight, forcing Hargraves to set realistic goals.
“I need to be thinking about where (Havens) is on the race track,” Hargraves said. “We’re here to win the championship then look at what comes for Saturday.”
Garber not done yet
For David Garber, simply making it to this weekend’s Spokane 200 will be a victory. Racing his late model for the championships at SCR and Montana Raceway Park in 2011, Garber has logged a ton of laps in his effort to grab one, if not both, track’s grand prize.
That was until Labor Day weekend.
Racing in a heat race during SCR’s big NASCAR weekend schedule, Garber was sent into the outside retaining wall, which resulted in damage beyond repair for his Pend Oreille Mechanical Pontiac. With two big races to go in his season, last weekend’s Montana championship race and today’s SCR title event, it appeared that Garber would not be able to go on without a race car to drive.
Enter Dan Yonke.
Yonke offered Garber his race car for the final two races last week, with Montana on the docket first. This was no ordinary race car: It’s an exact duplicate to the one Garber lost on Sept. 2 as it’s built by the same person – David Garber.
All smiles heading to Montana, Garber had strong practice runs to set up a good effort for the MRP championship race. Leading early Garber appeared to be in the hunt for the race win and a potential shot at the championship.
Disaster struck again.
This time Garber was sent head-on into MRP’s turn No. 1, rolling over and landing on his roof. Facing two nearly destroyed race cars in consecutive weekends, it would finally appear that his season would be over and the chances of racing for the SCR championship gone with it.
Again fortune smiled on Garber.
Montana fans, businesses and unknown donors gathered more than $3,000 in a pass-the-helmet campaign that Garber was humbled to receive.
“It was pretty cool to have them do that for me,” he said. “That really helped to get Dan’s car back together. We’ve been up a lot of long nights to get ready and may not even make it to the track until Saturday, but we’re going to be there if nothing else to pay back all the people who stepped up to help us.”
Racing for food
Fans looking to see many of their favorite Spokane 200 drivers take part in a worthwhile cause can head to the SKRA karting facility located on the grounds of the Spokane ORV Park. Media personalities and racers are scheduled to come together for a benefit race supporting the Salvation Army’s Food Bank and Sally’s House Emergency Foster Care
Set for noon Saturday, drivers including Lewis, Mitchell, Garber, Williams and Hargraves will compete alongside media personalities Mark Peterson, Kris Crocker and Kalae Chock.
Admission to the grandstands is two cans of food, which will go directly to the Salvation Army. Financial donations will benefit Sally’s House.
Info: Juanita Schultz, 624-1910.
Follow all of the region’s racing news online at www.spokesman.com/ blogs/keepingpace. To reach Doug Pace email him at racingnewssource@ gmail.com