It was the Fourth of July and a Thursday at Meridian Speedway and we would get in two races in a week. This is going to be rare on this year’s Tour due to the fact that most tracks out west run on Saturday nights only unless there is a special event like the one on the 4th.
As we coast down from our retreat from the heat in Stanley, Idaho, that we talked about last month, we arrived at Meridian Speedway, a fairgrounds track that helped to host the annual fireworks display for the city by the same name.
From there we motored north through Washington State to a track just west of Spokane and in Idaho for the Stateline Speedway Saturday night events. After these two stops, we will be spending a full month in Washington and visiting five racetracks before heading south to Oregon. So, now on with the show.
Meridian lies in the city by the same name and is just west of Boise. Fortunately, we missed going through Boise as we headed north from Salt Lake City by staying in Stanley, coming up through Sun Valley, Idaho, into the Sawtooth Mountains, and then coming back down to the west as we arrived at the track.
When we went to look for seats to watch the races, we had to look hard for empty seats, and that is a good thing.
MS is run by Adam Nelson who is very capable and runs a tight ship. This is an ASA -- sanctioned track and the officiating crew was topnotch. The whole program was managed very efficiently. There were a lot of cars for this special event and the stands were full. When we went to look for seats to watch the races, we had to look hard for empty seats, and that is a good thing.
Racer promoter and obvious patriot at Meridian, Adam Nelson, chats with the track photogra
At Stateline Speedway in northwestern Idaho, we were treated to some of the best-looking a
Young Nicole Behar runs a Super Late Model that her dad prepares for her. She smoked the c
MS was hosting a special race for the Legends class on Saturday, so Adam also scheduled a race on this day and 32 of those cars showed up. That is more than I’ve ever seen at one race, even at tracks in North Carolina where they are produced.
Other classes scheduled were the Winged Sprint Cars, Late Models, Non-Wing Sprints, and Hornets. I was speaking with my friend, Marty Zehr, and he mentioned that his old car he used to run here was still racing and now owned by Danny Lowther.
Marty is from Caldwell, Idaho just down the road from here and was a successful racer before he started working with his son, Dalton, whom we all know is running a serious race schedule in and around Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan.
Watching the Sprint Cars was confusing and surprising. Many of them were dirt tracking and sliding the rear tires through the turns. Did I mention this was an asphalt track? The winners in both the Winged and Non-Winged divisions didn’t do this and were especially balanced with their setups to the point of being very fast and never going sideways.
And there was a nice large crowd that came on this night to watch the action.
The Late Models were similarly unbalanced and I was able to discuss and help Danny with his setup and his car became very quick and rotated well in the middle after a little work. Luck was not with him on this night and he got run into from behind after a caution came out, returned to come from the rear only to get hit in the side from another out-of-control car that bounced off the turn four wall and into his side ending his night.
This track holds special events where a traveling series or a special class runs several times a year and brings in big numbers of both racers and fans. On this night it was the Legends cars, but it could have been a big money Late Model or Street Stock race or whatever.
The point is, these events are what put the icing on the cake for a track and many times make the difference between making money and going broke. Our next track did something very similar.
State Line Speedway
The officials have a good view of the action and can make very good decisions as to how to
SLS lies just east of Spokane, Washington, and has a special success story to tell. Larry Bertrand is the general manager here and he is a very busy man. The track was destroyed back in the ’70s when the then owner decided to hold a rock concert and one of the headline groups did not show up.
There was a riot, every building on the property was burned and it never recovered and went out of business. So, maybe holding concerts at racetracks might not be such a good idea. The track was eventually sold and improved to its present condition.
But holding special racing events is a good idea and Larry does just that. On this night, three nostalgic race car organizations came together to race and they included the West Coast Vintage, NW Early Stocks, and the Vintage Modifieds.
Larry runs a racing school here too as well as putting on events for local businesses. The place stays busy and generates money well beyond the weekly racing show. And the grounds are kept up like no other we have seen.
Not only in the fan area are there nice plants and flowers, I noticed the same in parts of the pit area as well. And there was a nice large crowd that came on this night to watch the action.
There weren’t too many of the Late Models present, but one 15-year-old racer did stand out to me. Nicole Behar races a Super Late Model -- and by race, I mean wins consistently at the regular events. And when the touring Late Models show up with the big dogs, she can run in the top five and hold her own.
Watching her race, I noticed that she is very consistent, is willing to take to the top groove to pass and never wiggles, unlike several of her competitors that night. She could be more aggressive for sure, but for now, this is the right way to learn and progress. The aggression can come later on when she has gained the respect of the other more experienced drivers.
The Early Stocks were a surprise to me. I had seen these types of cars run back east and at other parts of the country and there were some nice ones, some rough. But here with the cars that participated, every one of them were professionally restored and looked great.
This unique weight jacker system was used on many of the old time cars. It was used to adj
They looked like museum pieces and not what you might want to go racing with for fear of messing up a really nice example of early stock car racing. They did race hard, but clean, knowing the price to be paid for getting into each other. I really did enjoy that race.
And State Line had a score board that counted down instead of up. Remember me talking about that during last year’s Tour? It was one of the things I saw that I really liked. More tracks should consider that option and most of the scoreboards are designed to be set either way.
Our next five races are all in Washington State and we will enjoy a mix of dirt and asphalt racing. We’ll even be going to a very short 1/6-mile Mini-Sprint track in Deming, Washington, which is very popular. But best of all, we’ll be spending time in places surrounding Seattle and the vast waterways in and around the San Juan Islands and Olympic National Park.
Don't forget to check out the rest of our series on The 2013 AMSOIL Great American CT Tour!
Atomic Motor And Rocky Mountain Raceways
Meridian And Stateline Speedways
Wenatchee and South Sound Speedways
Skagit and Deming Speedways
Evergreen, Douglas County, and Coos Bay
Calistoga, and Silver Dollar Speedways