ELMA — A diverse group of 15 people from throughout Western Washington met up with Grays Harbor County officials to tour the Grays Harbor Raceway facilities on Tuesday afternoon.
The open house was held for those who expressed interest in bidding on a new raceway promotions contract/lease for the 2014 season and beyond. Nearly everyone who attended on Tuesday were either representing those who intend to bid or were going to bid themselves.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I am pleased there is a competitive process and more than one (group willing to bid),” Grays Harbor Fairgrounds manager Mike Bruner said. “I am pleased we got more than one interested party here. It is nice to see there is interest and the feedback was positive — about the facilities, the potential with the local fan base. A lot of them today are dialed into the Northwest racing scene. They know this place has potential.”
Bruner, Grays Harbor County commissioner Wes Cormier and other fairground officials conducted the informal tour, which included representatives from two Western Washington race tracks — Skagit Speedway in Alger and South Sound Speedway between Rochester and Tenino.
Steve Beitler, owner/promoter at Skagit Speedway, brought a large group from his track to look over the Elma facility and took pictures at every turn. Butch Behn, the owner/promoter at South Sound Speedway, and his son, Nick, were also present to give the raceway a look.
The touring group went through the grandstand facility — concessions, beer stalls and souvenir stand — as well as the upper tower and suites that also houses the announcer, scoring and media rooms. The group also toured the pit areas, the technical shack where cars are inspected and concession stand.
Everyone involved noted the need for speed in resolving who will set up the raceway for the 2014 season. In the past, promoters would have all of their equipment and infrastructure already at the raceway for the next season, not to mention a preliminary race schedule and sponsorships. In this case, the new promoter will have to set up nearly from scratch in many areas.
“My hope is for them to start up in April, just like every other season,” Bruner said. “It is going to come down to each individual promoter and what their resources are, manpower, how quickly they can get their equipment up here. It is going to be interesting to see how this will turn out.
“These (promoters) will have to bring in all of their stuff from where ever they are and get things set up, in place,” Bruner added. “There is a lot of work that will have to get done. If this contract starts in January, I don’t believe whoever it is will wait until March to get things set up. We are making a decision and get going.”
In October, the county terminated the promotions contract with Oregon-based Great Northwest Promotions LLC due to unpaid bills and debts owed to the county.
The county is currently accepting proposals to becoming promoters at the longtime raceway. County commissioners will be going through proposals as they come in until Dec. 30 and will formally going through each submission in a special meeting on Dec. 31.
Commissioner Wes Cormier noted that the county is going as fast as the government structure allows him and the commissioners to do so. He also said that if one proposal is “far and away the best,” the process will end at the Dec. 30 deadline.
To view the county’s “request for proposal” (RFP), visit here: http://tinyurl.com/lm4zuot
Rob Burns is a Daily World sports writer. He can be reached at (360) 537-3926 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Rob on Twitter: @RobRVR