MONTESANO — A five-minute special meeting was all it took for the Grays Harbor County Commissioners to decide on a new auto racing promoter at Grays Harbor Raceway on Thursday morning.
Skagit Speedway owner Steve Beitler, a former World of Outlaws driver and a veteran racing promoter in the Northwest, was selected by a 3-0 vote to take over the Elma-based raceway’s promotion operations for the next three years.
In October, the commissioners terminated the raceway’s previous promoters, Oregon-based Great Northwest Promotions, due to breach of contract and past-due money to the county. The county opened up bidding on the raceway promoter’s contract in December.
Beitler and his group, Funtime Promotions of Burlington, defeated Circle Motion Promotions of Snohomish for the contract. Beitler and the county must still negotiate the terms of the three-year deal, but he can begin work on the 2014 schedule for Grays Harbor — and Skagit Speedway, as well — immediately.
“We’re all very happy with the presentation of the contract,” Beitler said. “Some of the first things, obviously, we are working on is getting the raceway team put together, get a schedule put out, get the communication lines out and start marketing in the Grays Harbor area. There are a lot of great big first things we need to handle — four or five major things simultaneously. We’re at least six weeks behind.”
Wes Cormier, the county commissioner who represents East Grays Harbor, including Elma and the raceway, noted Beitler’s financial backing and local support as the reason for his vote for the contract.
“The emails and calls to my office were overwhelming from fans, racers and sponsors for Beitler,” Cormier said. “His proposal showed a large financial support for the raceway and the World of Outlaws vouched for him in his proposal. Those three things tipped it his way.
“(The World of Outlaws letter of recommendation) was a big one for me.”
Beitler noted his close working relationship with the national traveling sprint car tour, which has been at Grays Harbor Raceway since the late 1990s.
“(The letter of recommendation) was one of several key points,” Beitler added. “They were keeping a close eye on the developments at Grays Harbor Raceway. I’ve been working with World of Outlaws CEO Tom Deery and they were very pleased with the announcement. So we’re working on closing up a few details (on 2014).
“We’re going to see the same classes at Grays Harbor Raceway as in the past,” Beitler said. “We’ll see all of the traditional dates the raceway’s annual events have run on. Some of the new things may be a development of a sportsman sprint car class and work with more traveling series to come back. I hope to have a new schedule in the next seven to 10 days.”
During the meeting, Commissioner Frank Gordon expressed gratitude for Beitler’s bid, as well as Circle Motion Promotion’s bid, for the competition.
“We’re very happy to have you here, sir,” Gordon said. “You are now a member of the Grays Harbor team and we’re happy to have you here. Congratulations.”
“We’re moving forward within the community,” Beitler said. “It is really important to me and the company to be a part of Elma and the Grays Harbor community. Even if we don’t live there, we want to be a part of it and we want to show the locals we appreciate them.”