Joe Kopp is back.
Not that the Mica native and multi-time AMA champion ever really left the world of flat-track motorcycle racing, but he did hang up his helmet and is now chasing a new endeavor – track operator.
Kopp’s labor of love, Spokane Speedway, opens its inaugural season Wednesday night with a program that runs no more than three hours each evening. Spectator admission is a mere $5 and riders will have the chance to compete at a facility with Kopp’s special touches put into the design.
Located on the grounds of Spokane County’s ORV Park, the property’s newest addition is a nice complement nestled among the Extreme Motocross facility and the go-kart tracks of Sunset Speedway and Spokane Kart Racing.
Like everything that Kopp has faced in his illustrious career, the new facility has his never-ending energy and focus toward the race fans. With a majority of the schedule focused on Wednesday evenings through October, Kopp said, finding a reason to get out of the house for a racing event will not be difficult.
“I am trying to make (Spokane Speedway) a place for sports fans to break up the week and give them a place to go,” Kopp said. “I am really trying to make this a big thing for the Spokane area.”
The facility also serves as a site for Kopp to work with current riders and those interested in getting into the sport. From riding techniques to mental and physical preparation, Spokane Speedway will be a home far into the future for flat-track motorcycle racing in the region.
“The (riding) school was started to aid in the mental side of competition,” Kopp said. “People ask me how I was able to adapt to all track situations so I finally decided to give them a place to come and learn how I did it. From one-on-one to group lessons I promise I can improve lap times and teach great techniques.”
Those interested in learning more about Spokane Speedway can log onto www.spokanespeedway.com or call (509) 994-3613.
Variety at Stateline
Stateline Speedway has a bit of the old and something new this weekend. One of the newest touring groups in the region, the West Coast Street Stock Series, shares the schedule with the Northwest Modifieds, a group beginning its 27th season.
The WCSSS was formed as a series that offers Street Stock racers a way to travel from track to track under one rules package. This year the dream of Joe Dollefeld, Steve Conduff and other regional track operators has been turned over to longtime driver Mike Easley, who, along with his wife, Marilyn, will lead from the pits and no longer drive.
Mel Patnode was the series’ inaugural champion as the Yakima native had a dominant season. This year Patnode will face challenges from fellow Central Washington drivers Rich Peters, Kim Wennerberg and Kelly Hellewell, along with the Okanagon duo of Bryon and Darren Goetz. More than 25 race teams have registered for Saturday’s event, making it one of the largest main event fields in the Inland Northwest so far in the season.
Frank Volz Jr. is the defending champion of the Northwest Modified Series. Volz held the points lead for much of last season based on a consistent approach each race. Finishing in the top 10 throughout the year, Volz should be a contender Saturday night to kick off a run toward back-to-back championships.
Out to challenge Volz will be a strong mix of talent that includes Chris Ochs, Kevin Dietrich, Zig Grunert, Greg Ochs and James Spiering.
The Northwest Modified Series offers a great website – www.northwestmodifieds.com – for fans and racers, including a section that features in-car video clips from the last few seasons of racing.