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Racing In Oregon: The Great Tracks of The NorthwestSpecial to Salem-News.com
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(SALEM, Ore.) - When many people think of the great Northwest, car racing isn't typically high on the list. But Oregon just might change all that. It doesn't matter if you're looking to get loose on dirt or speed down asphalt, Oregon boasts some of the region's best tracks.
Race enthusiasts are starting to look to the region as a track-driving destination. Let's take a look at what it has to offer.
Oregon Raceway Park sits on Blagg Lane with an amazing view from Mount Jefferson to Mount Rainier. The dream of Bob Caspell, the $3.2 million Oregon Raceway Park, just might be one of the Nation's best raceways.
Its remote, naturally beautiful and designed to near perfection. The Oregonian spoke to veteran racer and board chairman of Pacific Motorsports Management, Tom Miller of Portland about Raceway Park and he commented, "This is very much a 'field of dreams' for us. We think if we build a great track they will come."
The Oregonian remarks that this track was not designed to hold Nascar type levels of people or events. The track was designed with the intention of "attracting private racers and car club enthusiasts who each weekend challenge themselves on a handful of West Coast road race courses."
Many race car drivers are starting to take notice, and have added Raceway Park as one of their favorite places to race.
Portland International Raceway
Portland International Raceway has a long and prestigious race history. It was home to the Grand Prix Oregon, which ran from from 1984 to 2007. The track held some of the World's best race teams, like Mercedes Benz, Penske racing, and PacWest Racing, who won the Grand Prix in 1994, 1995, and 1997.
While the PIR hopes to bring back big named teams like Mercedes Benz and The Grand Prix in the future, they have not been just idling the engines. The PIR has opened the track for amateurs and club racers alike.
The PIR holds a variety of racing events, like the region/vintage race, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) open race nights and OEM club races.
These races are open to any member of the SCCA. Fans aren't just waiting to see Mercedes race in the Grand Prix; they're taking their own European classics to the track in OEM club races.
OEM race-days are really fun. The field is even and it's really just about classic cars and having fun on the track. Participants racing in OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, races must be sure to equip the cars with only genuine OEM parts. These are open events, which means anyone can race as long as your car qualifies. Before race-day, specialists like eEuroparts.com warns drivers to make sure your car qualifies. So if you wanted to race your classic Mercedes or other European classic in one of the special club tracks, be sure your car qualifies by consulting with an OEM parts specialist who can help equip your vehicle to spec.
When properly fitted or upgraded with Mercedes OEM parts, virtually any Mercedes can become a racing machine, as original equipment manufacturer and aftermarket Mercedes Benz parts make an already race-ready car that much more potent.
Oregon Trail Rally
Oregon Trail Rally is hosting some amazing events and starting to attract serious national and local race teams. Hosted on the Portland International Raceway, the tract consists of four stages of tarmac and gravel action.
Oregon Trail Rally boasts, "Sixty teams are expected to compete at next year’s Oregon Trail Rally, making it the largest assembly of rally cars in the nation for this year’s Rally America National Championship.
The event is also the kick-off event for the Northwest Regional Rally Championship as over 32 local OR & WA teams vie for Championship honors."
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series
Willamette Speedway and Southern Oregon Speedway are two stops on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. If you have never been to a STP Sprint Cup series, you should. It's really really good racing action.
It might not get any better than small dirt tracks being demolished by Sprint cars. Both of these tracks are well known and greatly respected. The tracks gather big crowds and lots of action.
Kraig Kinser has a good track record in Oregon and seems to love the Northwestern track series, remarking, "A stretch of races like this is what the World of Outlaws is all about,” said Kinser.
“We are visiting mostly smaller tracks this week that usually put on a great show for the fans and put a lot of it back in the driver’s hands as well, as you have to really have your car working and handling, especially in traffic.”
Sunset Speedway is alive and well thanks to racing legend Greg Biffle. Biffle is a big fan of racing in the northwest. He won two titles at tracks that no longer exist, and Biffle wants to be sure that doesn't continue to happen. Biffle has become part owner in the Sunset Speedway, giving the track a much needed influx of funding and prestige.
The track is has a one-third mile clay dirt surface and will host 35 event seasons.
The Seattle Times spoke to Biffle about his investment, "A lot of great things are happening for the guys out in the Northwest.
"I really felt like I wanted to get involved in grass-roots racing and it’s important because that’s where all of our feeder guys come from — mechanics and drivers — for the Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Cup Series.”
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