The final World of Outlaws salute to the fans at Manzanita Speedway. The stands were packe
Chad Kemenah standing on the gas through the corner. The guy is hooked up and moving. This
Chad Kemenah in the 8 car followed by Danny "The Dude" Lasoski at the flag stand. Notice t
Ronnie Shuman, former World of Outlaw road warrior, and Manzanita alumni. Ronnie had prove
Sammy Swindel taking the time to autograph a vintage t-shirt for a fan. Sammy was as focus
Jac Haudenschild, spending some time catching up with legendary midget owner Larry Howard.
The last World of Outlaw Sprint Car race, ever! Have I got your attention? Well it got the attention of every Sprint Car fan in Phoenix, Arizona. The stands were packed and field was full. What was the reason for the last WoO Sprint Car race? Manzanita Speedway, the storied half mile in the desert was sold, the Grand Dame of Southwest dirt tracks had been sold for, depending on who you believe, 10 to 18 million dollars! Even at 10 million dollars it is not difficult to understand the motivation of the owners. Not that I am trying to mitigate the activity, but it is a large sum of money. The last time the WoO raced at Manzy was be March 28th 2009.
There are some things in this world that are sacrosanct, things that just should never be allowed to happen. Things like having warm chocolate chip cookies with a soda instead of a cold glass of milk; running the Indy 500 in a clockwise direction just for the sake of change; or making the Daytona 500 the Daytona 50, just because it would be a shorter day and the fans could go home earlier. There are just some things that don't need to be changed. But often, we are forced to accept change even if we do like the change. The new owners will be tearing down the stands and all the support buildings, taking down the fence, leveling the track, all so they can park cranes on the some of the fastest clay in the United States. Hey it's their track now and they can do what they feel is best for their business. It might have been more acceptable to the racing fan if Manzanita was going to be turned into a world class Cancer Treatment center. But not a parking lot?Sad, yes, it is tragic. As the cornerstone of dirt track racing in the greater South West United States Manzanita, is gone, a victim of skyrocketing industrial land prices and falling racing attendance. The South East Corner of 35th Avenue and Broadway was Mecca to many of racings faithful pilgrims. Many of the hero's of racing, past and present, have gotten their start or at least cut their teeth at Manzanita. But the current owner is well aware of the history that Manzanita has to the racing community. They could have just shut the place down, but instead there is a short reprieve, to allow the fans to get their last chance to see some dirt racing prior to starting the tear down and remediation process. There was some of the local racing going on with some special events taking place at the speedway until the gates closed for good on April 11, 2009. On March 28th the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars made their last appearance at Manzy. In what has been a long storied history with traveling Sprint Car legends the last Saturday night of March of 2009 will be the last time the Outlaws will run the storied half mile of clay. So what did the Outlaws think of losing Manzanita Speedway? What was their feeling about the loss of the track? How was this loss impacting them? Just how were they feeling about the loss? Some of the drivers were visibly saddened when questioned about the loss of the track others were less moved but still sad about the loss of a real racing hallmark.
What can you say about Steve Kinser? He is the acknowledged King of the Outlaws. He has more championships than any other driver past or present. When you look up Sprint Car driver in the dictionary, you will see Steve Kinser's picture first in the line.
CT: Steve, what are your emotions about losing Manzanita Speedway?
Steve Kinser: I really hate to see this loss. Not just for me but for all of the racing community. I have been coming here for many years. I remember coming here with my Dad. I have memories here with my son too. I have a lot of fond memories about this place. This track has launched the careers of many of the greatest drivers of the past 50 years. I really hate for all of this history to be turned into a parking lot. It's just sad very sad.
Billy Boat cut his racing teeth at Manzanita Speedway Racing with the local Sprint Car association. This track was the launching point of a very successful racing career which has taken Billy all the way to the Pole position of the Indy 500, and a very profitable career in Indy Cars. Billy now owns and runs a very successful exhaust system fabrication company. Building specialized exhaust systems for high end automobiles and racecars.
CT: Billy, what are your emotions about losing Manzanita Speedway?
Billy Boat: This track was the cornerstone to my racing career. Racing here was the launching point of a very good career in auto racing. The largest enabler that provided the visibility for was in 1997, driving for John Lawson, we started 15th in a Main event here at Manzanita and went on to win and then the following day we went to the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway and won the Midget event. It was huge. Another big memory for me was when Ronnie Schuman won the Western World Championship in my dad's Sprint Car. That was and continues to be a special memory to both me and to my whole family. This place will be missed.