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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pace: SCR’s improvements will be on display Sunday

Doug Pace

Spokane County Raceway’s oval hosts racing for the first time this season as all of its divisions take to the track Sunday afternoon in a jamboree format that features a mix of trophy dashes, heat racing a short main events.

SCR operator Craig Smith agreed to sublease the oval track to the Nelson family, who have poured more than $100,000 into concessions stand, pit stall, electrical, water outlet and infield upgrades in the last two months.

The jamboree event will give race fans and drivers their first look at the vast improvements, according to Rick Nelson, who along with his son Joe will lead the management team at the oval. Longtime Stateline Speedway owner Joe Doellefeld is also part of the track’s operational team.

Getting cars on the track and people to come through the front gate is important to gauge the overall operational readiness of the oval, Rick Nelson said.

“It will help us get all the kinks worked out of our tower and let the racers get dialed in (in the new pit stalls) as well,” he said.

SCR’s oval has been through a series of operators in the last few years. Racers and fans alike wonder from year to year if it will open and what type of schedule they will see. The Nelsons know gaining back the trust of the community is a tall order.

All of the investments in the facility aim for a long-term goal for the oval, Joe Nelson said.

“We know it will take time (for fans to come back out consistently), but I think we’ll have smooth shows once things get going (next weekend for their track’s regular season opener),” he said. “We want to get some crowds in here and show we mean business. The proof is going to be in the pudding, though, and we know that. If we put together good programs with good racing and entertainment, then we know the fans and support will come.”

Williams returns after layoff

After months of waiting, Blake Williams makes his return to late-model racing this weekend as he leads his McClintock and Turk Race Team to Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval for the running of the Leonard Evans 200 with $10,000 up for grabs to the winner.

Drivers often take time off, run partial schedules or concentrate on big-money shows, but for Williams the layoff was under doctor’s orders to rest from injuries sustained in a July car accident north of Spokane that curtailed his 2014 race schedule.

Wondering if racing would be a part of his future, Williams knows that his career, even one that has come at a cosmic climb for a 19-year-old, still has plenty left to achieve. Gaining clearance to race again brings a whole new perspective, the 2013 Idaho 200 champion said.

“I’m just happy to get back to the track and settle into the seat,” Williams said. “We were going to try and run some race last fall, but I had to wait it out so here we are heading to Wenatchee. There’s no pressure because with all I’ve been through, I’m just happy to have a chance to drive thankful for all the support I’ve received.”

With his team, led by veteran crew chief Kevin Richards, working to prepare his Ford Fusion for Williams return, the West Valley High School graduate kept patient with his doctor’s orders.

“I knew that the race car would be ready to go,” he said. “Kevin keeps it in tip-top shape. We’re always prepared to race, so I did what the doctors and my family asked and just relaxed for the rest of last summer and fall and let my injuries heal. We’ll be fine this weekend and should come out of Wenatchee with a solid finish.”

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