NW Motorsports Report

June 14, 2024

NITRO EVENT AT QLISPE RACEWAY, JUNE 21-22

AIRWAY HEIGHTS — Perhaps harkening back to its beginning, 50 years ago, Qlispe Raceway Park is turning back the clock to present a field of nostalgia funny cars, June 21-22.

Billed as Nitro Jam, a field that also includes fuel alters and jet cars will compete with the smell and cackle of nitro in the air.

It was a half century ago when the former Spokane Raceway Park first hosted drag racing with the American Hot Rod Association Spring Nationals from May 30 to June 2, 1974.

Then it was a field of the most notable names in drag racing — Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme among others — who traveled to Spokane to run on the brand new track. Prudhomme and Gary Beck came away top professional winners.

A pair of local entries, Spokane’s Chris Davis and his “Old School Nitro” Firebird, as well as Tim Eickstadt from Nine Mile Falls and his “Hitman” Camaro will battle with a handful of other funny cars.

They include Ron Smith’s Camaro, Jason Busy Firebird, Mike Peck in the “The Instigator” Camaro, the John Tillman “Dave Benjamin” Firebird, Canadian Nathan Sitko’s “The Bubble Up” Firebird and Wally Giavia in the “G-Men” Dodge.

Smith won a title in Spokane in 1994 in top fuel. Sitko’s the son of former pro alcohol champ, Kenny who won events here in the 1980s.

The unpredictable fuel altereds include: Tom Padilla “Red Dragon”, Jason Pettit “Hell Raiser 2”, Keith Wilson “The Witch Doctor” and Shane Harter “Not So Funny.”

Derek Snelson “Tomahawk” and Mark Stevens “Hocus Pocus” are jet cars doing exhibition racing.

Gates open Friday June 21 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices: adults $25 teenagers 13-17 $10 and kids 12 and under are free. Fuel cars will run at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. and jets will follow the 9:30pm run.

Gates open Saturday June 22 at 8 a.m. with fuel cars scheduled to run at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. with jets will follow the 5:30 run.


Spokane’s Chris Davis and his “Old School Nitro” entry, as well as Tim Eickstadt from Nine Mile Falls and his “Hitman” Camaro will battle at Qlispe Raceway, June 21-22. File photos

SPRINT BOATS TO WAKE UP ST. JOHN, JUNE 15

ST. JOHN, Washington — The pastoral quiet of the valley leading into St. John, Wash. will be upended June 15.

It’s the invasion of some three-dozen race teams to the Webb’s Slough sprint boat course for the first of two events in 2024 will turn the town of about 600 into the center of the sprint boat universe.

“Established in 2007, the June race will be our 32nd race held in St. John,” promoter Amanda Webb wrote in an email.

The sport, which originated in New Zealand and migrated to the U.S., first landed in the area in 1997 when promoters built a sprint-boat course at the old Playfair Race Course horse track.

The Webbs put their race course together nearly two decades ago on a whim having never even seen a race — and with other notions for its use.

“We had visions of alfalfa,” Amanda Webb told the Spokesman Review in a 2007 story.

The idea all came about largely due to Colfax, Wash. driver Scott Ackerman who said the U.S. Sprint Boat Association was looking for a new venue.

The Webbs had the perfect place, right off State Route 23 with a creek running through the property and a sloping hillside opposite. That has been terraced to accommodate spectators who tailgate.

A cautious but supportive community embraced the idea, too, and what has followed has been nothing short of impressive.

Webb’s now holds a treasured distinction, Amanda Webb said. “I believe we now hold the title of longest running Sprint Boat Race track in the U.S.”

The only gap in the racing of course came in 2020 with COVID-19.

For those who have never witnessed a sprint boat race it is quite unique in the world of motorsports. There is not head-to-head battles with other boats, but rather the clock and luck of the draw.

Each boat has a driver and a navigator and is given a map just prior to each race that shows the required course. Each team is judged by its finishing time and a boat that deviates from that course is disqualified.

The course is a series of channels, approximately 20-foot-wide and filled with about 18 inches of water where navigating in the best time wins.

A healthy purse of $10,000 is a draw at St. John. First place in each class earns 1st: $1,250, 2nd: $800, 3rd: $680 and 4th: $250. The fastest qualifier also pockets $250.

A second race is scheduled for August 24.

Once a more popular sport with multiple locations, sprint boat racing in the Northwest is now limited to St. John and Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula.

Further event information can be found by visiting www.webbsslough.com.


Webb’s Slough 2023 Modified Class winner, No. 86 Juggernaut with husband-and-wife team of driver Jason Christ and navigator Sam Christ of Burley, Idaho. Jeff Halstead Photography


 KLEYN TAKES NWSLM POINTS LEAD INTO HERMISTON

HERMISTON, Oregon — Kasey Kleyn will take the points lead into the fourth event of the season June 15 at Hermiston, Oregon for the IBEW 112.

Kleyn, from Quincey, Washington, also won the last Northwest Late Model Series, May 18 at Stateline. With 157 points he holds a comfortable 35-point lead over Ken Bonney (122), Dave Garber (109), Chris Kalsch (108) and Evan Goetz (103).

Three NWSLM races have all produced different winners with Garrett Evans capturing the April 7 Apple Cup win Tri Cities and then son, Jan Evans, winning the Leonard Evans 150 at Wenatchee which honored the memory of his grandfather.

The race will also serve a special purpose honoring Hermiston Raceway videographer, Gale Brandner, who passed away June 8.

In a Facebook post, the track wrote, “Gale was the unsung hero behind the scenes, tirelessly filming every single race we had. His dedication and passion for the sport were unparalleled, and this year, we were honored to present him with the Award of Excellence at our banquet.”

“On June 15th, we will be holding a memorial race in Gale’s honor. We ask that you join us in celebrating his life and the immense impact he had on all of us. It would have meant the world to him,” the message added.

Visit www.hermistonraceway.com for further information.


Points leader Kasey Kleyn looks to win his second consecutive NWSLM race June 15 at Hermiston Raceway. NWSLM photo

In This Week's Article

  • Nitro Event at Qlispe Raceway, June 21-22
  • Sprint Boats to Wake Up St.John, June 15
  • Kleyn Takes NWSLE Points Lead into Hermiston

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Paul Delaney has been writing about Motorsports in the Pacific Northwest since 1976. He welcomes learning about your racing accomplishments.

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