Editorial: Spokane Raceway Park

The following letter was emailed to Spokane County Commisioners on 3/26/08:

I URGE SPOKANE COUNTY to give the strongest possible consideration to purchasing and operating Spokane Raceway Park.

As the publisher of the region’s only outdoor recreation magazine some of my readers are going to think I’m crazy for advocating this. At Out There Monthly you’ll often find us arguing against irresponsible use of motorized vehicles, whether it is ORV riders who go off-trail, snowmobilers who disturb wildlife, or drivers who won’t share the road with cyclists.

But not all vehicle operators are irresponsible and not all motor vehicle recreation is bad. It would be hypocritical of us to advocate for non-motorized trail designations in places like Ferry County and not support sensible, structured motorized recreation like Spokane Raceway Park.

Did I mention that car racing is super-fun? I’m not talking about NASCAR mega-races (boring), but local races where the cars are sponsored by the auto shop down the street. It was no surprise to me after reading the Spokane Raceway Park Feasibility Study that the report concluded that SRP could be a major tourist attraction and a money-maker from the get-go for the county. Last year some friends and I rode our bikes on the Centennial Trail to the Stateline Speedway in Idaho to see races and a demo derby. The place was packed and we had a terrific time. I would love to be able to bike out to SRP and do the same thing-or perhaps see a bicycle race, which have occurred at SRP in the past and hopefully will again in the future.

While “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney may never race again at SRP, one of the many reasons to save the park would be preserving our racing heritage. Another would be to give the Fast and the Furious generation of young adults a legal place to race off city streets. The most important reason is economic development. SRP is one of only a handful of full racing facilities in the Northwest and would attract visitors and dollars for years to come.

The Stateline Raceway in Idaho is already threatened by sprawling residential development and if it closes, and we lose SRP, there will be no auto racing here. Please don’t trade in SRP for acres of tract homes and strip malls and more dubious urban growth boundary expansion. Don’t let this opportunity slip away on your watch.

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