Fast times, fun nights at speedway in 2009

Moms and dads get special treatment at the Port Angeles Speedway this season.

So do Port Townsend and Port Hadlock residents, children under 12 years of age, Scouts of all kinds and even unhappy housewives.

The speedway boasts a number of special events this season designed to keep people coming to the quarter-mile track.

General manager Bert Johnson says the speedway had a strong 2008 season and things look promising this year, even in a down local and national economy.

The speedway 2009 schedule features 11 regular race classes - hornets, junior hornets, crash-to-pass cars and crash-to-pass trucks, modifieds, midgets, queen bees, street drags, stock cars, hobby stocks and street stocks - plus semi-regular quad racing and special events like drift cars on May 23, monster trucks on July 24-25, limited sprints on Aug. 8 and more.

The speedway sees the Northwest Outlaw Street Stocks back on the peninsula for the first time in four years as well.

"Stocks are up," Johnson says, noting more drivers are filling out the stock car classes. "People just couldn't afford it last year."

Johnson says he and officials from a Kitsap County group are working on a challenge series to bring the Washington Association of Demo Drivers to the peninsula and reciprocate at events in Kitsap.

Johnson figures the slumping economy could either help or hurt the local racing scene.

"I like to take the positive approach," he says, kicking back in the speedway announcer's booth, the bleachers deserted on this early March morning. "People may not be able to go on vacation. We offer local entertainment that's ... less than a movie. It's three hours plus per night."

As added incentives, speedway officials are offering reduced fare for groups on particular nights, such as: moms getting in for $5 on May 9, a day before Mother's Day; children under 12 the next weekend are free; and, on May 30, any unescorted woman 18 older gets in free on Unhappy Housewife Night.

On June 13, a Scout of any variety (boy, girl, cub, etc.) who comes in uniform gets in free. On Aug. 15, a Race of Champions is scheduled to feature former speedway stars Monte English, Don Perry and Bill Huizenga.

Plus there's a canned food drive on May 23, giving attendees $2 off their ticket for two cans of food.

"Obviously, there's a bigger need this year," Johnson says.

The speedway got its first action of the season - a spring training for drivers, if you will - at its annual "play day" on March 14. The first real racing is slated for March 21 when hobby stocks, hornets and junior hornets hit the track along with a "Smoke Show," a wheel-churning event popular with the speedway fan base.

Racing continues until Sept. 12 when championship races start up. The season finishes in early fall with the Final Survivor and Great Pumpkin races on Oct. 10.

Gates open at 4 p.m. and race fans can come as early as that. Qualifying heats start at 5 p.m. and the speedway allows fans to meet drivers, get autographs and get pictures at 6 p.m. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m.

Michael Dashiell can be reached at miked@sequim

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