SPOKANE, Wash. - We've heard from many of you over the past 24 hours regarding the future of the oval track at the Spokane County Raceway. The Operator of the raceway, Craig Smith, said Tuesday that he will work with the racers to finish up the season and allow the former managers, the Tarr family, to run concessions and make some of the rent money that he says he is owed. He says some racers approached him with a way they can fund the rest of the season so he is open to that, but next year a new manager will be in place.
According to their contract Craig Smith charged the Tarr family $6,000 a weekend to rent just the oval track. The Tarr's had 20 weekends scheduled so they would have paid about $120,000 to rent just the oval track. Because the county owns the raceway property Craig Smith pays them a little more than $70,000 to rent the entire facility, including the oval track. That means in just rent, Craig Smith is banking nearly 50 grand this season alone.
KHQ Local News Reporter Alex Rozier took a close read of the counties contract with Craig Smith today and it says the manager of the drag strip needs to host 36 races. His son runs the drag strip. They canceled the Friday night races earlier this year and will come up well short of that 36 number. According to a spokesperson for the county, they have "blessed his ability to have less than that" as they know the economy is tough.
We learned yesterday that this came down to mainly beer sales. Last year, the Tarr family sold beer at the track, but when Craig Smith took over in February he went to the Liquor Control Board and said he didn't think Sheri Tarr could sell beer without a liquor license. It turns out he was right so this year she couldn't sell beer on her side, the oval track. Without revenue from alcohol, the Tarr's couldn't pay their bills. Sheri Tarr couldn't apply for a liquor license because there can only be one per property and the manager of the drag strip had it (Shawn Smith, Craig Smith's son).
Next year Craig Smith said that his company will run both sides and he'll pay a manager to run the oval track. Because it will all be under one umbrella he will sell beer on both sides. Smith says he's really excited about the 2013 racing season.