TERRE HAUTE — The racing rumor mill, normally reserved for the offseason, has kicked into high gear in recent weeks.
Rumors regarding the impending demise of racing at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds and imminent departure of current Terre Haute Action Track promoter Dave Allison have been making the rounds on the Valley racing scene.
Fair board president Brad Anderson has heard all the rumors and addressed what he terms unfounded reports as to the future of the Fairgrounds before Saturday’s running of the Hut Hundred.
Although he’s done his best to squash the rumors, Anderson concedes the efforts of a few naysayers have made the task difficult to deal with.
For those who will listen, Anderson emphasized in the strongest of terms that neither racing nor Allison will be vacating the southside facility in the near future.
Talk that the Fairgrounds would eventually fall victim to commercial development has been around for years. The most recent rumors circulating have a new fairgrounds and race track being built on land located in eastern Vigo County.
Nothing to it, says Anderson. He conceded that he’s had his share of inquiries from potential developers, but none have gone farther than just talk.
“As president of the fair board, when somebody makes an offer, I have an obligation to take it to the board,” Anderson said. “I can tell you nobody has made any offer that was reasonably close to do what it would take to construct a new fairgrounds.”
Anderson noted that a county in the Indianapolis area recently constructed a new fairgrounds on donated land that carried an $18 million price tag.
“We haven’t had an offer anything close to that figure,” he revealed.
He said the fair board recognizes both the long-standing tradition and financial significance of having racing at Fairgrounds.
“We want racing to continue in Vigo County,” Anderson emphasized. “Racing is too historical in this area for the Fairgrounds to become a shopping center. It means too much to the community. Every time we have a race at the Action Track, it brings in new money to the community.”
It’s no secret that Allison has ruffled more than a few feathers since his arrival on the scene back in July. But according to Anderson, the fair board has had no complaints about how the Morgan County businessman does his job.
“As far as the fair board is concerned, Dave Allison has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Anderson said. “He had guys here all week doing things we asked for. He even made the effort to do more than what was asked of him.”
Anderson also mentioned that it’s not the place of the fair board to deal with the day-to-day operations of racing at the track.
“The fair board leases the property,” he explained. “We have no control other than what’s in the lease. Dave has paid the rent, done everything we’ve asked. He has the lease for one more year. After 2007, there is a four-year option on the lease.”
Controversy surrounding race promoters and fair boards is nothing new to racing. It exists everywhere.
“I’ve been here 26 years and seen several promoters come and go,” Anderson said good-naturedly. “During that time, I’ve never heard a good word about any promoter yet, no matter who it was or where it might be at.”
Talk that the cool relationship between Allison and the U.S. Auto Club would jeopardize the scheduled running of the Oct. 6-7 sprint shows at the Fairgrounds may have been put to rest following the way the Hut came off.
When questioned about the future of the two shows, USAC official Bill Carey offered this encouraging note.
“From what we’ve seen here today, I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t happen. The promoter has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Carey said.
* * *
• Mid-Week Special — Valley fans will be given the opportunity to take in a rare mid-week race this week with tonight’s scheduled running of the Jasper Engines-Transmission Circle City 100 at O’Reilly’s Raceway Park.
Featuring the cars and drivers of the Premier Racing Association champ car series, the 100-lap affair will have the special appearance of NASCAR Nextel Cup regulars Ryan Newman and Ken Schrader.
It will mark Newman’s first PRA race. Chet Filip is the current PRA points leader, with Eric Gordon a close second as Ron Gregory, A.J. Fike and Paul White round out the top five in points.
Action at Clermont gets under way with qualifications at 6 p.m. and racing at 7:30.
Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at the Tribune-Star, P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808.
TERRE HAUTE — The racing rumor mill, normally reserved for the offseason, has kicked into high gear in recent weeks.
Joe Buckles: Fitzpatrick back on track, returns to winning ways
Following a self-imposed hiatus from the Wabash Valley sprint-car scene for most of the summer, Fitzpatrick Racing out of West Terre Haute has returned to action and the results over the past two weekends have been nothing shy of spectacular.
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