Spokane County Raceway general manager Jay Livingston dreams of hosting a large-scale late model race each season that will excite his fan base and bring out-of-town followers to the refurbished facility in a tradition-building style similar to the Idaho 200.
This weekend’s iRacing.com ASA Northwest Late Model Tour “Reopening 125” may serve as that event, according to Livingston.
“We really do need to have our own large-scale event similar to a (Yakima Speedway) Apple Cup or Idaho 200. To do that we have to lay the foundation (for it to grow) and go from there year to year. In this first year we want to get on first base and not try and hit a home run, but by, say, year three, it’d be nice.
“You have to plan and budget (for a race) to have long-term success.”
ASANWLMT co-owner Jerry Losch sees the reopening of SCR as a potential boon for his series.
“Hats off to Bucky Austin and the group at Spokane County Raceway for breathing new life into the multiuse motorsports park,” Losch said. “Not only is an additional half-mile good for our regional circle track series, but this facility helps promote many types of racing including drag racing and road course events.”
The region benefits from SCR’s reopening, Losch said.
“The (Inland Northwest) is lucky to have two unique circle track venues with SCR and Stateline Speedway in close proximity,” he said. “This gives fans the opportunity to see short track racing in two different and distinctive formats with the quarter-mile track (Stateline Speedway) and SCR. I hope these two facilities work closely together as they both have a lot to offer for race fans.”
Many of the Tour’s drivers have been to Stateline but not SCR for a late model race. Losch expects a large turnout of teams for the 125-lap shootout.
“I believe many teams are excited to test their skills at the high-banked oval,” he said. “Word spread quickly amongst the drivers the last time a touring late model series (the Late Model Challenge Series) visited there in 2007, that it was a very fast race track. I expect a lot of competitive racing between veterans of Spokane’s ovals and newcomers to the series.”
Area drivers Kevin Richards and Shelby Thompson headline the local contingent that will battle the Tour regulars. Losch expects those two to be in the hunt with the series leaders, including Gary Lewis, who won the 2007 event, and others.
“There will be a strong group of tour drivers there, many of which have a chance for the checkers,” Losch said. “Pete Harding (the 1999 NASCAR Northwest Series champion) is always strong on the bigger race tracks and you’ll have Erick Hargraves and Mike Longton, who have many wins at their home-track Yakima Speedway half-mile. Jared Vorse and Dan Rhodes are running very strong so far in the early going of 2009, but you can’t bet against the fact they’ll be racing against (Kevin) Richards and Shelby (Thompson).”
For more information regarding Saturday’s ASANWLMT stop in Spokane, visit www.spokanecountyraceway.com
•With the tour teams invading Spokane County, the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association takes its show on the road to Kalispell, Mont. for the “Battle of the Borders” race at Montana Raceway Park.
The unique format combines INSSA and Raceway Park’s late model drivers, including Bodie Morton, Mark Owens and Agni Howell, in a winner-take-all 100-lap showdown.
Two-time INSSA champion Dave Garber will be out to rebound after a subpar start to 2009. He sits outside the top 10 in the points chase as he drives for three straight championships.
Jeff Fenton and Jeff Little hope to capitalize on points leader Shelby Thompson’s absence with strong runs at the Montana quarter-mile that may move them atop the points standings.
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