NASCAR site search never idles
- Jon Bell
- Portland Tribune - News
• Troutdale, Scappoose stay in running for 75,000-seat racetrack
Though an initial deal petered out last year, the recruiting effort to bring NASCAR to the Northwest is still humming right along.
In fact, officials from International Speedway Corp., the Florida-based company looking to build a 75,000-seat NASCAR facility in the region, scouted sites in the Seattle area this week and had plans to stop in Oregon in the next several days before heading back east.
'We're still very interested in being in the Northwest,' said Grant Lynch, vice president of International Speedway. 'There's one big area of the country that doesn't have a major racing facility. We have a big interest in figuring out if we can put one out here.'
Drew Mahalic, the Oregon Sports Authority's chief executive officer, said he had spoken with International Speedway officials as recently as last week 'to just kind of stay in touch É as we continue to point out potential sites where (a track) could work.'
International Speedway hopes to find a site, preferably between 700 and 900 acres, within 40 to 50 miles of a major Northwest metropolitan area, Grant said. The facility probably would be a seven-eighths-mile track with room for at least 75,000 spectators, at the start.
NASCAR officials have the confidence that wherever they go, the seats will be filled, Mahalic said. Portland International Raceway, for instance, attracts upward of 400,000 fans a year.
Among the locations under consideration for a NASCAR track in Oregon are the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter in Troutdale Ñ now a federal Superfund cleanup site Ñ and a 500-acre swath of farmland in Scappoose.
Terry Smoke, owner of the Troutdale General Store, has been working to attract International Speedway to Troutdale. He has been in 'low-key' contact with the company of late. In addition to the racetrack, separate plans are brewing to bring a soccer stadium, county fairgrounds and a Columbia River sternwheeler landing to the site. A model of the proposed attractions is due to be released next month.
'That's a wonderful spot to do something tourist related,' he said, adding, however, that the Port of Portland's plans to use the site as an intermodal freight facility still are on the table.
In Scappoose, Port of St. Helens Executive Director Peter Williamson said he had spoken with International Speedway officials on Tuesday about the 500 acres available near the city's airport. He said they have shown interest in the site but are concerned, as are residents, about traffic jams. Plans to alleviate those concerns include bringing in heavy-rail commuter trains, bus and boat shuttles and reconfiguring traffic lanes.
After months of searching last year, International Speedway selected a site for the raceway in Marysville, Wash., north of Seattle. But in November, Marysville and Snohomish County officials halted negotiations, saying the deal was too big a risk for taxpayers.