We have seen Sprint Cars here on the western part of the U.S. before now, but the following two tracks go at it in a big way. Our first visit is to Skagit Speedway where the big Sprint Cars rule. There are a lot of good things to say about this one. And the next weekend we visited Deming Speedway, again, where mini and junior Sprint Cars go really fast and have tons of fun for a small sized racetrack.
Both of these tracks are in the upper northwest portion of the, well, upper northwest in Washington State. Racing is indeed alive and well in this relatively remote region. We are well north of Seattle and all of that busyness and things are country feeling.
The San Juan Islands are just offshore from here as is Canada’s Vancouver Island, there are oyster farms, Dungeness crabs and halibut galore. And speaking of waterways, we crossed over the north end of Puget Sound on a ferry with the Tour bus towing our Jeep. We saved 150 miles of highways by doing this and about three hours of driving time. Plus, it was way cool.
But I digress. We’re here to talk about racing and the story for each of these unique tracks is well worth talking about.
I met the promoter for Skagit, Steve Bietler, in Daytona during Speedweeks this year and he was the guest of ASA’s Dennis Huth. We all had dinner, or what could be called a feast, at Demetri’s and Steve implored me to visit his ASA Sanctioned dirt track. My planning for this year’s Tour was in the early stages, so I decided to put it on my schedule. And I’m very glad I did.
To get to the track, we had to drive the bus with Jeep in tow from Port Angeles, Washington, on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula, to Skagit, some 205 miles by land away. Or, if we used the ferry across Admiralty Inlet, it was only 90 miles. So, we took the ferry. I told editor Rob about my plans and his reaction was, “Can you do that?” Indeed we could and I got front row seats at the very front of the open ended ferry.
Skagit is very well managed and promoted. This promotion thing is something I look at closely everywhere I go because it determines the level of success a track attains. Here the success is evident in not only the numbers at the back gate, but in the attendance numbers of the fans. It also lies in the dedication of the fans where they keep coming back in years past and years to come.
As we drove around the Skagit area, one thing was evident. The races that weekend were being promoted heavily. There were signs on many street corners and along the main roadways. There was the track pace truck parked in plain sight with a large sign placed in the bed that promoted the races. Everyone in Skagit and the surrounding areas knew there was going to be racing on Friday and Saturday night at the speedway.
The result of all of this promotion was great attendance on both nights. With the big Sprint Car show that was planned, and the Sprints are always a crowd favorite, we saw lots of campers and many of the fans had Skagit t-shirts on. This shows how dedicated they were to this venue.
All during the show, Steve oversaw the whole production from his “owners” box high atop the stands and made sure the program moved along at a good pace. Decisions such as where cars lined up, who should be sent to the rear, and so on were made quickly and fairly. That’s important for both the competitors and the fans.
The races were great and everyone got their money’s worth on both days. Steve’s choice of workers to oversee all of the track functions was right on the money too. Big shows can’t be run well if the various official and track workers are not experienced and enthusiastic about their role in the event. All of that worked well here.
There is a back story to our getting to Deming. We were supposed to go there the weekend after Skagit, but the night before and the day of the event, it rained. I drove up to the track in my Jeep at about 2 p.m. on the Friday of the event and it was very wet and it had started raining again.
I did that so that I could evaluate whether the show was to be run before I broke down the motorhome from the KOA just 30 minutes down the road. I didn’t want to bring our home away from home into a wet clay environment. On the way back to the campground, it started raining again and I made the decision not to go because they surely weren’t going to be racing on this night. Wrong.
Well, the show did go on, somewhat. I heard the attendance was low as many others made the same decision I had. I felt bad about that. The weather cleared on Saturday and we traveled south to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. The next week, I decided to re-arrange my schedule and go back to Deming.
Steve Beitler runs the show at Skagit. He is involved in every decision and works tireless
This well-prepared Dwarf car participated along with the Sprint Car show and these guys pu
The suspensions on the Dwarf cars looks highly adjustable compared to other Mini Stock car
We had the next weekend off, as luck would have it, and were supposed to travel to southern Oregon that week. Instead, I changed my Oregon reservations, extended my current KOA reservations and made it to Deming the next weekend. And I’m so glad I did.
Deming is more of a club track, although they get a decent fan turnout most nights. This small 1/6-mile clay oval is home to the Clay Cup Nationals and is the track where Kasey Kahne got his start. He even sponsors the Junior class here. It is governed by the Northwest Mini-Sprint Association.
Paul Lemley is the tracks promoter and he stays very busy throughout the day. He was very glad we decided to come back too. The event on this night was a benefit for Autism named Autism Speaks Night, so we wanted to support that effort as well.
The smaller Sprint Cars run here and are all powered by motorcycle style engines and the power to weight ratio is impressive. These cars are all fast. There is the 1,200cc top class, the 600cc and 600cc restricted, and the KK Jr.s which run the Briggs World Formula 205cc, 15hp engines. And, the 1,200s and 600s classes all run on alcohol.
Some of the chassis used for the 1,200cc class are very close to being midget chassis and could be converted easily. So, within the current engine rules, these cars can attain speeds that rival the midget classes of Sprint Cars.
All of the race teams except the Juniors pit in the infield and it was crowded. No trailers were allowed, so the people in the stands could see all of the action. And the action was impressive.
These cars are not just for the kids, grownups participate too and have a ton of fun. The
We all know how exciting Sprint Car racing can be. Late in the race a car running fifth gets a run and runs down the leader for the win. That’s kind of how this night went. The racing was good all through the field as drivers went high and low to make progress.
There are many adults in the fastest classes here that would not choose to move “up” to any other form of circle track racing. This provides all of the excitement and fun anyone who races could expect. And as for a good show to watch, it is a wonderful experience for the fans.
We had kept our commitment to Deming after all and I can say that this small track had all of the ingredients to qualify it for being one of our most memorable stops on the entire U.S. Tour. Thank you to Paul and crew for making us feel welcomed, even though we missed you the first time around.
Next up is our visit to Evergreen Speedway where we’ll see very fast fullsized Sprint Cars run the half mile and then on to the south to Douglas County Speedway to meet the Old Time Racers of Oregon. We’ll be spending a couple of weeks in Oregon before making our way further south to northern California and Redwood and wine country.
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