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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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NW motorsports: Late models carve out niche

Paul Delaney Correspondent

From the beginning of the Late Model Challenge Series in 2000, founder Jerry Losch has been careful to put plenty of distance between his group and the former NASCAR Northwest Tour.

Now that the Elite edition of the NWT is no longer – NASCAR pulled its backing after the 2006 season – it appears hard not to sometimes confuse the two.

After all, when the newly named ARCA West Late Model Challenge visits Spokane Raceway Park for the first time in history Saturday night, (time trials at 6 p.m.) there will be a distinct flavor of the old and new NWT.

The field of some two dozen late-model race cars that vies for the TC Transportation 125’s $2,500 first-place award will feature at least three former champions of the NASCAR version of the tour – last year’s champ, Gary Lewis, and three-time titlists Jeff Jefferson and Garrett Evans. Those three have won all five races this year.

“We’ve had a great season already,” said Losch, who resides in Graham, Wash., near Tacoma. “We had our sanction deal through ARCA West, which makes up the western extension of ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America).”

The ARCA connection brought a lot of new hype and a lot of new sponsors, according to Losch. But so did the demise of the Elite Tour after last season. The LMCS has emerged out of a winter of uncertainty as the definite late-model leader in the region.

What the LMCS started became the standard for late models in the region. Because of that, 38 teams have raced in the series and races average 25 cars, according to Losch.

“This year we had no less than eight brand-new straight-rail cars built for the program,” he said.

The majority of all regional late model programs have a car that will fit within the LMCS rule book.

“We come in with a core group of 18 to 20 regulars,” Losch said. “We get the ‘sometimers,’ the locals, and before you know it, you’re at 25, 28 or 30 cars at an event. … I like it when the top local guys come out and run against our guys. It helps the whole program. We get a lot more racing in.”

Spokane Raceway will be one of three half-mile tracks the LMCS will race. Yakima and Vernon, British Columbia, are the others.

“I’m excited to be there,” Losch said. “These guys are definitely looking forward to it.”

SRP is offering a $2 discount on admission to anyone who brings a ticket stub from last week’s NSRA open-wheel race.

Modifieds run memorial

The Northwest Modifieds resume their tradition of honoring the memory of a key person in their history Saturday with the running of the eighth annual Gary Miller Memorial at Stateline Speedway.

Proceeds from the event and various other fundraisers during the evening go to the Spokane Shriners Hospital.

Miller, who died of cancer nearly a decade ago, is largely credited with keeping the class alive during the early to mid-1980s.

The class, which had its beginnings at the old Fairgrounds in the 1960s, remains, perhaps, the longest-running series in the region.

Going into the race, Spokane’s Tim Sawyer (476 points) holds a slim lead over Chris Ochs (468) of Colville and another Spokane driver, Rick Gimeno (459).

Another note of interest finds that Mark Jones and Frankie Volz Jr. will attempt to do double duty Saturday behind the wheel of their modified ride and Winged Sprints.

INSCA Winged Sprints and NW Late Model 4s team with the Modifieds on Saturday. Time trials begin at 6 p.m.

SRP features sports cars

Northwest Motorsports will present its rendition of the Spokane Grand Prix today, Saturday and Sunday at Spokane Raceway Park.

Numerous classes, ranging from sports cars to open wheel racers, will compete on the 2.5-mile SRP Road Course in an International Conference of Sports Car Clubs race that draws drivers from across the region.

Admission is free. Info: George Doran, 990-6784 or gdoran1@comcast.net.

Pit stops

Extreme Motorsports will run its fourth Supercross race of the season Saturday at the Motorsports Complex in Airway Heights. Another race in the series is next week, with both leading up to an Aug. 4 Mini-National that offers a pro purse of $20,000. Info: www.extmotorsports.com or 218-2014.

“July 14 drag racing at Spokane Raceway Park is being canceled so the track can use the road course race for the Spokane Grand Prix. A Spokane Pro Gas Association race set for Saturday will be rescheduled.

Streaks ‘n’ stats

Ephrata’s Christian Roeder set the fast time and dominated the Windermere 100-lap race to take his first win in the Inland Northwest Super Stock Series last Saturday night at Stateline Speedway. Spokane’s Dave Garber finished second and Jeff Little of Sandpoint third. … Rick Brown of Springfield, Ore., became the first repeat winner of 2007 in ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association (NSRA), slipping past Jake Mann of Monroe, Wash., with five laps to go last Saturday at Spokane Raceway Park. … Driving Miss E-Lam Plus, Dave Villwock won a second straight American Boat Racing Association last Sunday at Madison, Ind. Villwock goes for three straight this week at the 99th running the Gold Cup in Detroit.

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