Dangerous Pacific Raceways redevelopment plan seeks fan support UPDATE Funny Car driver Ron Capps said track conditions at Pacific Raceways are "dangerous and an embarrassment for fans" at the NHRA Northwest Nationals this weekend.
Capps, coming off a victory last weekend at Sonoma, Calif., said the track needs to be resurfaced to reach acceptable professional drag racing standards.
"I hate to be the guy, but somebody has to step up and talk about this," Capps said the first round of qualifying Friday. "This is one of my favorite places to come. I got my first win here and I love the Pacific Northwest. The fans are great, but this is an embarrassment for the fans. They have to completely resurface the track.
"We didn't see a single side-by-side pass in that [first] round. Only two cars made it down under power in Funny Car. It should have been awesome in these [cool and cloudy] conditions. We should have seen tracks records."
Only two Funny Cars made a full pass in the second round Friday. Robert Hight had a tire come apart on his burnout before his attempt at a second-round qualifying pass.
Capps tweeted after the first round about the problems with the racing surface: "It's pretty bad when there are pieces of the track on your tires after the burnouts."
"It's unfortunate," Capps said later. "We got back and lifted the body and the front tires were covered in [pieces of asphalt]. I've never seen the track peel up like that."
This is not a new issue. The Pro Stock drivers threatened the boycott during qualifying last year at Pacific Raceways because they felt the track wasn't safe, but cooler heads prevailed before Sunday's final eliminations.
"Every year, two weeks before we come here we hear they are going to fix the track before next season, but nothing happens," Capps said. "It's like everybody just forgets about it because we all love coming here.
"The only time something got done was years ago when Whit Bazemore said the track bumps were so bad it had to be fixed. He got fined, but they fixed the bumps."
Capps is a driver representative on the board of directors for PRO (Professional Racers Organization), the team owners group of the NHRA. ESPN.com 08/08/11 Pacific Raceways, home of the annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals and part of the NHRA member track network since 1958, has been working to gain approval of a redevelopment plan that would provide new racing surfaces, increased safety measures, and a new motorsports industrial complex to serve the racing community, but the track needs the support of the NHRA community in its dealings with local officials.
“This has been a hard and drawn-out effort, and while we are inching closer, now is the time we could really use your help,” said Pacific Raceways President Jason Fiorito. “Right now, the only people the government leaders are hearing from are those who oppose racing. We need to let our elected officials know that there is a strong and vibrant motorsports industry that is dependent on facilities such as Pacific Raceways that creates jobs, brings in money to the region, and should be supported.
While those of us in the motorsports industry understand the positive economic impacts associated with our businesses — the jobs we create, the taxes we pay, the services we provide, the hotels we fill, the businesses our racers and spectators frequent — many of those in government do not understand just how many jobs and businesses are associated with the industry in King County and the greater Puget Sound region. I need your help in educating them on the motorsports industry and how important it is to have race facilities in our region to serve all of our customers.”
The NHRA community is encouraged to assist the efforts of Pacific Raceways by contacting local officials (emails listed below) and voicing your support of the proposed redevelopment efforts. If you are a business in the region, you could include information such as how many people you employ because of the racing industry in the Puget Sound region, how long you have been in business, and how a world-class racing facility will increase your business and create new jobs.
“If people could take a moment and contact the folks below and write a brief note to them in support of Pacific Raceways, that would go a long way in helping us in achieving our goal of making Pacific Raceways a world-class racing facility,” said Fiorito. “Messages can be short — even if it is only a couple of sentences — or as long as you would like. The important thing is that they hear from you.”