Skagit Speedway is prepared for its national coming-out party this summer, and owner Steve Beitler can’t wait.
“This year is going to be the start of our breakout,” Beitler said in a recent telephone interview. “Our construction, our scheduling, the TV … this is the year when we break away from the pack and become a trend-setting racetrack.”
With improved fan amenities and a schedule that includes traditional events, famous names and two nights of nationally televised racing mixed in with its standard weekly fare of sprint-car competition, Beitler believes the three-tenths mile dirt track north of Burlington is poised for its biggest season.
Skagit opens its season Saturday with racing in three sprint-car divisions – 410, 360 and Sportsman – and the Outlaw Hornet division. Gates open at 6 p.m. with the first race after the opening ceremonies, which begin at 7:30 p.m.
Last year’s division champions – Travis Jacobson of Lake Stevens in the top-tier 410 Sprint, Steve Kilcup of Sedro-Woolley in the 360 Sprint, Kevin Smith of Mount Vernon in the Sportsman Sprint and Mike Powers Jr. in the Outlaw Hornets – are all expected to begin their title defense in the season-opening races.
In addition to weekly divisional racing, Skagit becomes a destination for national and international drivers in May.
More than 60 of the West Coast’s top 360 winged sprint drivers will compete at Skagit when the Northwest Sprint Challenge Series visits May 11-12 and returns July 27-28 for the Bob’s Burgers &Brews 360 Nationals. The purse for the 360 Nationals is $60,000, with $10,000 to the winner.
Skagit’s longest-running event, the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup, first run in 1972, returns June 14-16 with an expected purse of more than $140,000. Top drivers from all over the United States and Canada will compete for the $25,000 winners’ share.
The nation will be watching when the World of Outlaws series returns to Skagit on Aug. 24-25, with both nights of racing televised on the Speed channel.
“We’re one of three (small tracks) in the country to get two televised dates (on Speed),” said Beitler, himself a former World of Outlaws driver. “(Those) races are going to be huge … we’re bringing the world’s greatest sprint car drivers here.
NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart return to Skagit Speedway for a special charity race on Wednesday, Aug. 29. This will be the second straight year Kahne, an Enumclaw native who began his sprint-car career at Skagit, and Stewart will participate in the event benefiting the Kasey Kahne Foundation.
Also on the schedule for this season is what Beitler called “the biggest fireworks show north of Seattle” in conjunction with the midseason championship on July 7, motorcycle and quad racing on Sept. 8 and the 3rd annual Hornet Nationals on Sept. 15, with a purse of $5,000.
Ticket prices and the full schedule are available at www.skagitspeedway.com.
Evergreen lives up to “rain or shine” motto: Racing opened last Saturday at Monroe’s Evergreen Speedway for the second and third tiers of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.
A late afternoon hail storm and wet weather kept the super stocks from running, but the second-tier bombers, third-tier mini-stocks and stingers raced on.
Defending champion Duane Schoesboek took the checkered flag in a caution-filled bomber A Main, holding off second-place finisher Steve Ptacek. Darrel Lutovsky won the bomber B Main and transferred up to the A Main along with Tim Widener, who finished second.
Douglas Hinds lapped every driver in the field except second-place finisher Chuck Richard in winning his first mini-stocks A Main on the day after his birthday.
Defending champion Cody Koroshes took the checkered flag in the stinger 8 main and Ryan Gunderson won the super figure 8 Main.
Racing continues this Saturday with all classes scheduled to run.