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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Keeping Pace

Kopp keeps busy with AMA, track improvements

Joe Kopp has a big AMA-style race planned for Spokane Speedway on July 17 and news regarding Spokane County Raceway's curtaiing of racing is being dealt with in the region.

Doug Pace

The Spokesman-Review


Spokane Speedway hosts its annual midweek stop for professional AMA flat track motorcycle riders on Wednesday with the winner netting a $1,500 payout for a night’s work.

Mica’s Joe Kopp has been working hard for two years to bring a successful flat track motorcycle facility to life on the grounds of the Spokane County ORV complex. Last year’s inaugural AMA-style professional event was a big success, with riders from across the United States taking part.

Kopp has also been busy managing an AMA team for Triumph Motorcycle. Between the track and the race team, the past AMA champion has been active. Working to improve the racing facility has met with success.

“We’ve made a lot of appearance changes to the track this year and have added banking to the corners, which has created more passing opportunities,” Kopp said. “It seems to be a big hit so far for fans and racers.

“For the main event we’re offering a $500 bonus to any rider that wants to start on the back row (a main event consists of three rows) then race his way through to the victory. It will be offered to the fast qualifier first, then on down the line. I know someone will take the challenge if I don’t do it myself.”

Kopp competed in last year’s event as well as announcing he will be in Wednesday’s race.

The race runs on the flat track while also navigating a small jump within the interior of the layout, making it more than just riding around in a circle. Victory will come from the ability to handle both situations, Kopp said.

SCR news hits hard

News this week that Spokane County Raceway will curtail its oval track schedule for the second straight season was met with disappointment from its Idaho neighbor, Stateline Speedway.

With divisions that have similar rules packages including Fever 4, Road Runners and Bump to Pass, Stateline’s general manager Larry Bertrand is hopeful SCR can return to a more active schedule in the future.

“We’re working together on drifting events (staged on the SCR road course and at Stateline), so we do have a relationship and know it (cooperation) can be done,” Bertrand said. “No one benefits when race tracks close or curtail programs, and this is something we at Stateline did not want to see happen.”

SCR operator Craig Smith cited financial loses as one of many reasons to hold two events in August (a Demolition Derby and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series) after tonight’s racer-operated event. For Bertrand the biggest challenge in working with SCR to grow circle track racing in the region has been a lack of consistent leadership on the oval side.

“They (SCR) have had three managers of the oval since last summer and I see staffing of the track as one of the biggest challenges they face,” Bertrand said. “I think Chuck (Sundstrom, operations director at SCR) and Craig can make it work going forward, but I do see the struggles the track has had with a few of the managers running it in recent months when it comes to the schedules they made and purses that were announced.”

Smith agrees that scheduling and a lack of solid leadership has set the oval back in recent months.

“The inconsistency of managers has probably hurt us,” he said. “I think it (scheduling conflicts with tracks including Stateline Speedway) has impacted us just as much. We had a schedule out before anyone else in the region but found several tracks were holding racing (in the same divisions as SCR) on the same night.”

Bertrand has three Super Late Model events on his calendar for this season, all of which did not conflict with SCR’s Inland Northwest Super Stock Association races. Stateline offers a late model class that has a rules and tire program that differs from INSSA. The HyDrive Late Models raced on the same nights as SCR’s Super Late Model shows.

For circle track fans two high-profile events are still on the horizon for each track as Stateline’s Idaho 200 is set for Aug. 3 while the NASCAR K&N Pro Series returns to SCR on Aug. 24 and will be operated by Bill McAnally Racing Promotions.

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.