Dear America, Please Stop Killing Our Local Tracks.
By: JT Lauderdale
Al Rapp (33r) works to fend off challenges from Brandon Hakala (80) and Andrew Hanson (20) during the “Pure Excitement” WISSOTA Pure Stock feature Saturday night at the ABC Raceway. Hanson, from Iron River, went on to win the feature, while Hakala finished third and Rapp sixth. (Norm Tesch photo)
With the beginning of another year, my fellow motorsports fans and I are excited for another season of racing. That being said, many local tracks across America are concerned if this year may be their last year open or, even worse, are struggling to even get the 2023 season off the ground.
Growing up in Spokane, I have never seen a large event like a NASCAR race. However, I have many childhood memories of going to one of my local oval tracks and watching some racing. There are two tracks near me: Spokane Country Raceway in Spokane, WA and Stateline Speedway in the Stateline and Post Falls area in Idaho. Spokane County Raceway has not had any racing on their oval track since 2018 and its future is up in the air with the complex being purchased by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. Meanwhile Stateline speedway is still in operation, but with a large set of apartment complexes being built and rented out a little over a kilometer away, I feel myself growing concerned about the tracks future. In other areas of the US, the future does not look bright. Recently, it was announced Greenville Pickens Speedway may be sold to land developers. Greenville Pickens, a track that has significant ties to the history of NASCAR, may be gone soon.
The death of local tracks can be already be seen. Tracks like Myrtle Beach Speedway, USA International Speedway, and Concord Speedway are all gone and demolished. Concord is now basically a parking lot, USA is now an Amazon Warehouse, and Myrtle Beach is now a vacant lot awaiting development.
These tracks matter to a lot of people. Personally, I have many childhood memories from my local tracks. I can remember taking my wife on our first date out to Stateline Speedway to watch the annual running of the Idaho 200. I can also remember sitting in the pits at Spokane County Raceway watching my friend’s dad racing his Hobby Stock around the track. I am praying I can make more memories with my family and my future children out at our local tracks.
These tracks also help keep our roads safer. These tracks give people the opportunity to drive a car at speeds you wouldn’t want them to go on the city streets. These tracks offer people a safe place to drive as fast as they can. Without these tracks, the only place people are able to test the limits of their car is on the public roads, which I’m sure no one wants to happen.
So, to the people who are neutral or uninterested in the local tracks: I understand that oval racing is not everyone’s favorite sport. All I ask is that you don’t work to get these tracks closed. And hey, maybe go out to a race sometime. You will get to experience why so many people love racing.
To the city officials and land developers: I understand land value and real estate is a complex subject. But please, understand where you are building apartments and homes. When these tracks were built, they were placed in an area where noise complaints wouldn’t be a thing due to their distance from homes, apartments, and businesses. If you are developing land around the track, do not stab them in the back and complain about the noise on the weekend.
To the local track fans: These tracks need all the support they can get. I understand the economy isn’t the greatest right now and people are struggling to meet ends meet. If you can, spend a couple bucks and go watch some weekly races here and there out at your local track. If you own a business, offer to do some sponsorships or advertisements at the track to help them out.
To the ones who make the track special. To the track owners, promoters, drivers, and all of the staff that help make an event run smoothly: Thank you. Thank you for all the memories I have and helping me enjoy something I love in person instead of just on TV. I see how hard you guys work and I know that you sacrifice a lot just to entertain me and many others. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t give up. The sport of oval racing needs you.
Finally, to you the one who is reading this: I can’t see what your opinion is of racing. You may be one who drinks a gallon of racing fuel each morning, or maybe you are someone who has never been out to a race. I hope that, at the minimum, I got your attention directed to one of your local tracks. Go out to a race or two this year. The more people we can get out to the tracks, the longer these tracks can keep providing us with excellent races and memories.