April 20, 2012 in Sports

Spokane County Raceway shuffles staffing

Doug Pace
 

Spokane County Raceway kicks off its 2012 season with a Test and Tune session for drag-racing enthusiasts on Saturday with the oval track set to open on May 4 and the road course getting under way on May 5.

While the on-track action is the focus of Saturday’s activities, the facility made news this week as it was announced that Cindy Gibbs, who has been on staff since the facility reopened back in 2009, was dismissed by new operator Craig Smith.

“We wish her all the best in the future and appreciate the years of dedication and service Cindy has put in over the past several years,” Smith said in a press release.

Gibbs, who most recently had returned to her marketing and public relations duties during the offseason, has also served in the general manager’s role and was instrumental in working with the NHRA during its annual summer stop at the revamped facility.

Smith, who took over the operating contract during the offseason, indicated that current front-office staff will handle Gibbs’ duties as the new season approaches.

With Gibbs’ departure, the upcoming season will have no ties to Bucky Austin’s management that reopened the facility three seasons ago nor of the Roger Hodgeson and Charlie Allen operational group that had been at the helm since 2010.

Joining Smith this season will be the Tarr family that will lead the efforts at the half-mile oval with new general manager Brycen Tarr at the helm. The Tarr family, along with Larry Bertrand, had been the promoter’s group for the oval last summer.

While the operational facet sounds daunting with so many new faces on site, Smith is optimistic regarding the upcoming racing program which includes a full slate on all three race tracks.

“We continue to move forward with all our plans to begin racing. It’s business as usual,” Smith said. “(SCR is) hosting a seminar (today) for regional track operators to see our new track prep machine. This is not your everyday piece of farm machinery. It has an attachment with four big drag-racing slicks that will be laying down brand new rubber on the track.”

Stateline Speedway kicks off its season on Saturday with the premier of the newly formed late model division which features rules similar to the regional ICAR touring series, but, allows for local drivers to have a track to call home should a traveling show be more then they choose to run.

Among those expected to compete this weekend will be defending Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion, Braeden Havens, 2010 Montana Raceway Park Late Model champion Bodie Morton, current ICAR champion Blake Williams, 2011 Stateline Speedway Baby Grand hot shoes Joey Bird and Nicole Behar and many more that make up the ICAR and limited Late Model ranks from across the Northwest.

Qualifying starts at 6 p.m. with a full racing program to follow including the SLS Baby Grands and Super 4 Modifieds.

Havens heads into Stateline’s Late Model event fresh off a strong 2012 debut on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. As the Inland Northwest’s only driver among the NASCAR ranks, Havens was an unknown prior to last weekend’s race at Havasu 95 Speedway. Based on his strong eighth-place performance many in the pits of his next race will be keeping an eye on the high school senior.

While qualifying a subpar 15th set Havens deep in the field, a patient approach to the race which included keeping his car on the lead lap brought about a late race charge past many of the series top drivers, including defending champion Greg Pursley.

“Havasu was a very difficult track to drive on so Stateline will be a lot easier (to get comfortable with),” Havens said. “I am very familiar with Stateline as it’s one of my home tracks, so it will be fun to get back on the quarter-mile. The K&N car is heavier and harder to drive, so it will be nice to get back into the lighter Late Model at Stateline and wheel it around in the division’s season opener.

Follow racing coverage online at spokesman/blogs/keepingpace. You can reach Doug Pace by email, racingnewssource@ gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @racingnewsource


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