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Norman Dianda, Builder of the Wild West Motorsport
by Dan McGee - Special to the Tribune
Jan 07, 2014 | 1310 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Norman Dianda stands in the bleachers of the Wild West Motorsports Park before last August's Lucas Oil Off Road Truck event. His company, Q&D Construction, was able to construct the facility in only four months during the spring and summer of 2012. He was able to get Washoe County, and all other agencies involved, on board with the project.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Norman Dianda stands in the bleachers of the Wild West Motorsports Park before last August's Lucas Oil Off Road Truck event. His company, Q&D Construction, was able to construct the facility in only four months during the spring and summer of 2012. He was able to get Washoe County, and all other agencies involved, on board with the project.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Drivers competing on the Lucas Oil Off Road series have commented on how they like the high speeds and big air jumps that are part of the Wild West Motorsports Park. The fans enjoy watching the drivers launch their trucks in the air like this one roaring down the front straight.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Drivers competing on the Lucas Oil Off Road series have commented on how they like the high speeds and big air jumps that are part of the Wild West Motorsports Park. The fans enjoy watching the drivers launch their trucks in the air like this one roaring down the front straight.
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RENO - Two years ago a new racing venue, the Wild West Motorsports Park, was built east of Sparks. Its father, Norman Dianda, is the former head of Q&D Construction.

"Well I had leased the old land fill from Lockwood Investments to dump clean fill dirt to cap over the land fill," Dianda said. "Then as I looked at it, this was kind of in the heydays, I figured I'll just create open storage."

There was also a motocross track on the property at the time but that venture didn't work out. Other plans were soon in the works.

"John Harrah had worked out a deal to have kind of a small track to test his trucks for Speed Technologies. We expanded that and it wasn't a big deal but basically it was never an open race track," Dianda said.

Then things really started happening.

"Along the way Lucas Oil was talked to, they came up, looked at it and said, 'could you build a one plus mile track?' Forest Lucas and his management team that was involved in truck racing came up and asked what can we do," Dianda said. "So we kind of pointed our fingers and walked around and basically struck a deal but we had about four months from the day we made the decision we were going ahead and put a race track in until race day."

The deal was struck in April 2011 with the first racing event scheduled for August. Not much time to complete what had to be done.

"So I went to the county, got a hold of the county manager and asked her to get everybody at a single meeting where we could talk about trying to get something done to put a race track in," Dianda said. "So anyway we did and explained to them we didn't have a lot of time to get a lot of stuff done. I said we'll be working on plans and we've got to have everybody on board.

"The County stepped up and we were able to get a grading permit to start grading for the track and then we submitted the plans."

Dianda explained his biggest challenge was time and he expressed appreciation for Washoe County and all the other agencies that got on board with the project.

"Everybody that has anything to do to put on an event like that got involved and made a commitment they'd make it happen," he said. "Time was of the essence, we had to work overtime and do a lot of things that if we would have had more time it would have been easier but hey, you've got to deal with what's dealt to you if you're going take advantage of something. We were able to accomplish it and Lucas put in the first set of grandstands. Last year they put in another set and they're going to enlarge those this year to where they've got the platform on top where you can put your VIP tents."

The project is a partnership between Q&D and Lucas Oil. Building and expanding is the responsibility of the local company while Lucas Oil provides the grandstands, pads and other things that pertain to making the event happen.

"It's been a good partnership," he said. "We didn't make any money and had to watch expenses. We're not in the black by a long shot but it's a great event, provides for the community and little by little we're starting to develop more events that'll take place up there."

The facility itself remains a work in progress and Dianda explained they are planning to expand the events that can use the facility.

"Rod Hall is going to put on a driving deal up there. He's going to build a driving course for stock vehicles right off the racetrack and do some stuff on the track," he said. "We're going to get a second Lucas race at the end of May or the (June 1). Then we're going to have another one in August and then we're probably going to have a regional (VORRA) race in September."

While both Lucas Oil events are scheduled to be night shows, track general manager Kevin Singleton said the first is a test event. Since most teams need a day to tow to the track, the aim is to see if the event can let them have Sunday to get back to their home base.

"They'll look at the May race and see how it goes as far as trying to get crowd there, then determine if they'll stick with that for August," Singleton said. "But that could change back to Saturday and Sunday for the August event."

VORRA (Valley Off Road Racing Association) has already scheduled another race at the facility and in July's "Hell's Gate," is slated for the track. Singleton said the event is a cross between rock crawling and racing more along the lines of the Ultra 4 events.

Singleton added that sometime this summer his crew will take up the dirt on the infield, which has some good size rocks in it, screen all that then put clean dirt back.

"So we can take whole infield out for a flat event," he said.

He also added they are working not to conflict with VORRA's schedule and that group will run some Lucas Oil regional events planned for the area.

Dianda also mentioned if the RSVCA is successful in attracting a heavy equipment convention, part of it might be at the facility so what's on display downtown might be shown in action.

There also has been some talk about either an oval or even a motocross track at the facility.

"It might get serious but we've got to look at it as to how much can we afford to spend," he said. "We've got the basics there now but then from here forward, I've got to start to look at it and say 'hey, I've got to have something come out of it.' There's a point where you draw a line in the sand and say OK I've spent this much now and it's got to start to return."

Another possibility is outdoor concerts. Dianda mentioned the facility's advantage is that it has no neighbors and is just minutes from town.

"The thing about the track is that from downtown Reno it's 15 minutes and from downtown Sparks it's 10 minutes. So it's a great place to have things happen and after the event is over, people can return back to the hotel, go out to dinner, gamble and do what ever they want to do. We've got lots of opportunity, it's going to just take time to keep developing them," he said.

While saying Reno is not a Las Vegas, his desire is to see this area develop better attractions for this type of facility. And as the track develops, its potential area casinos are stepping up as well.

"The Silver Legacy stepped up the first year and again last year. And the Nugget got involved last year as they're looking forward to helping develop other events because they're in a great position, as close as they are to the track," he said. "All of them I'm sure are very interested and they'll do what they can but not everything takes off full speed."

While he's looking at the facility and its costs as a businessman, Dianda is also considering how the track can help the community start to rebound from the current economic hard times.

"It's just going to take a little bit of time to get it developed to its full potential. And hopefully one of these days we'll see a return on our investment and that'll be good," he said. "But at the same time, if we can do anything to spur our economy in northern Nevada and maybe I'll even get a construction job out of it that will also be good."

One positive part of the Lucas Oil events is that they are televised on MAV.TV and he feels that is beneficial to the community.

As Q&D brings in more clean fill dirt to help cap the old land fill, they will also use it to improve the parking area and expand the pits for the upcoming races.

"We've got a lot of advantages so little by little we'll nurture those to be move forward. We want to make this thing into something that'll serve the community as well as bring us a return our investment in the future. We're going to look at everything and we've got the ideal place to do anything if they want to play in the dirt and make some noise," he said.

The first Lucas Oil Off Road series race is scheduled for May 30-31, which will be Friday and Saturday nights.

OTHER RACING NEWS

• For motocross riders wishing to get some seat time, Exit 28 will host practice sessions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

• The two local riders competing in the AMA Supercross 250 West class got off to a good start on Saturday with Aaron Siminoe and Brian Sjogren finishing their first practice qualifying session first and third. They finished second and third respectively in their second practice qualifying session.

But during the heat races neither finished high enough to transfer into the main. Siminoe's 10th place finish was one shy of what was needed while Sjogren had bad luck and ended up 20th in his heat.

In the LCQ, both finished out of the transfer spots with Siminoe finishing fifth and Sjogren seventh. The next stop is Phoenix on Saturday.
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