Serving Franklin County, WA

Spokane County Raceway operator steps aside

Craig Smith was unable to work deal to continue lease; racing complex will not operate in 2021

AIRWAY HEIGHTS — Citing the inability to come to an agreement to negotiate a different lease term, Spokane County Raceway operator Craig Smith will step away from the facility leaving both the 2021 season, and the track’s future up in the air.

Neither Spokane County Commissioners, nor officials with Spokane County Parks who oversee the facility returned requests for comments by deadline time Tuesday evening, Feb. 23.

They were asked on Monday to address the rampant social media chatter that the track would close — or if it was for sale.

The complex which features a drag strip, 2.25-mile road course and half-mile oval (currently closed) was purchased for $4.1 million out of a court-ordered bankruptcy sale in 2008. It was renamed Spokane County Raceway. Some estimate its current value at around $7 million.

Smith has held the lease for racing complex since 2012. He had indicated at the start of the 2019 season that he would not renew the option to run the three-track complex leaving him free to retire.

In February 2020, just before the coronavirus struck, Smith decided to “un-retire” and give it one more year. While he ran an abbreviated 2020 schedule, it was done without spectators which was an additional hit to the bottom line.

At the time Smith agreed to one additional year leasing the facility, Spokane County issued a press release that, in part said: “This agreement will allow Spokane County Commissioners the time needed to continue working on a long-term solution for the raceway facility.”

In the past 30 years over a dozen racetracks in the Pacific Northwest have closed and it is uncertain that should the raceway remains shuttered in the face of COVID-19 if it, too, will join that list.

Paul Delaney is a retired former Free Press Publishing reporter and can be reached at [email protected].


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