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Two bullrings - similar yet different
by Dan McGee
Nov 29, 2009 | 1104 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - Galen Reese (left) and Jordan Greathouse stand by the front stretch wall at the Lovelock Speedway. Reese had the idea to build the track and along with help from many people, including Greathouse, brought this dream to reality. Both men are looking toward an even better year in 2010.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Galen Reese (left) and Jordan Greathouse stand by the front stretch wall at the Lovelock Speedway. Reese had the idea to build the track and along with help from many people, including Greathouse, brought this dream to reality. Both men are looking toward an even better year in 2010.
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Tribune/Dan McGee - Just as a Dwarf Car practice is about to start Curt Nieman points out something he wants track official to check on. Nieman is the promoter for the American Valley Speedway in Quincy, Calif. and is looking forward to another successful season at this short track.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Just as a Dwarf Car practice is about to start Curt Nieman points out something he wants track official to check on. Nieman is the promoter for the American Valley Speedway in Quincy, Calif. and is looking forward to another successful season at this short track.
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At first glance, short oval tracks might seem alike but in reality they aren't. While these bullrings offer good family style entertainment, at an affordable price, and action packed racing their differences set them apart.

Two examples are the Lovelock Speedway and American Valley Speedway in Quincy, Calif.

Despite being geographically isolated, located in small rural communities both dirt tracks provide a variety of racing. One has been in existence for decades, while the other just finished its sophomore season.

While Lovelock is a high-speed bowl, American Valley is shaped like a paper clip with long straights joined by tight banked corners. But each track is similar as that veteran racers operate them.

"I raced from 1979 to '93," American Valley promoter Curt Nieman said. "The track went dry so I promoted motorcycle and quad races out here. Then I kind of gave up on that, and we wanted to go back to racing again, so I went back to that."

His track is located at the Plumas Country Fairgrounds on the east side of Quincy, Calif. and is situated among the trees that are part of the local forest.

Over 170 miles away, Lovelock Speedway sits on top of an old motocross track just north of town in a wide-open area.

"I'm the ex-president of the Nile Valley Race Club and when the track got started, I was the president," said Galen Reese. "When I first moved here back in the late '80's, we had a track at the rodeo grounds and I used to always go there and watch the races."

In 1986 that track could close so any driver living in Lovelock had to tow to either Battle Mountain or Fallon to race.

"With all the people here I thought it would be a good time to start another track," Reese said. "And there was a little bit of interest but there were some people that said it would never work. It took a few heads, some minds and some good hard work but we were able to get it going again.

"This used to be an old motocross track and when we started, from the time we broke ground in 2006, till we had our first race it was one year."

Current president, Jordan Greathouse then said, "I was involved in building the track and spent many nights and days out there with the preparation. I'm still involved with getting our pit lighting in and trying to make it a better facility."

Although operating for two years, Lovelock Speedway is still a work in progress.

Although the Quincy had a history that dated back to the 1950's, bring racing back was a challenge for Nieman.

"It was almost impossible because the Fair Board didn't think we could do it again because it had dried up and there were no cars," he said. "Building up a car count was real easy because everybody wanted to go racing again. So within a year we had lots of cars but now it's kind of dwindling away because people just can't afford to race."

Like many other businesses, the current economic climate has impacted the car counts at both tracks and each has a different solution.

At American Valley there are three main classes, not counting special shows, which seems to help. Lovelock on the other hand addresses low car counts by combining classes in a single race with some interesting and wild results.

The rural location is more of a challenge to Lovelock, which is just over 100 miles east of Reno, then Quincy.

"I don't see that as a problem you see, as the Chico boys go to Hanford, other places and we're only 70 miles away, Nieman said. "Most of the guys that come here just love coming here. Once they arrive it's like, 'Oh my God, this place is beautiful.'

"So far so good on our special shows, we haven't lost a dime. Pro stocks and Mini stocks have been a little bit down but the Modifieds have been there for us and well as the Dwarf Cars."

Nieman added one key to success is being nice to the drivers and the pit people.

"They're paying your bills and I've got a great group of volunteers," he said.

In Lovelock the initial group's challenge was getting help to support the venture.

"At first was hard to get people to come out but was a small group that was constantly working," Greathouse said. "Once they saw our racing and the car count beginning to come up the community actually pulled together, was very helpful with donations, sponsorships and even coming out to help pull wire."

He added that once the track had a schedule the local Chamber of Commerce came on board, as did the Frontier Days Coalition.

Another positive both tracks share is bringing their communities increasing the room nights at local motels.

"And we'd like to thank Sturgeons for everything they've done as they've helped out a whole lot," Reese said,

In Lovelock, Sturgeon's Casino and motel gave racers special rates, especially for the two-day shows at the track. Over in Quincy, when there was both a big show at the track and a high school tournament, every room in town was sold out.

Of course, just getting the Lovelock track built was quite a challenge and now that's become putting in needed improvements to help the facility.

"When we started, we were running day races," Reese said. "It was hard to get the fans to come out and it's awful hard on the cars to run during the middle of the day when, in the summertime, it's 100 degrees."

After temporary lighting was installed racing switched to evenings and the fan count began to rise.

"We've always wanted lights up so that's one thing we did this year. Right now we're working hard to get the lights up in the pits and hopefully next year we'll get the bathrooms in and stuff like that," Reese said. "Every year we have a big challenge ahead of us but everybody has done a phenomenal job in pulling together and helping."

Asked about the labor, Greathouse said, "We're doing most of the work in house. We have some guys that know electricity so they're coming out and volunteering their time and we're taking care of our own out here."

Next year, restrooms will eliminate the need for renting portable units and the track received a grant that will enable a beer garden to be built.

"That section will try to keep under aged drinking out," Greathouse said.

Another similarity is that both tracks run schedules that suit their situations.

"This year Fallon ran on opposite weekends as us and that's been pretty nice." Reese said.

"We try to work with them as far as setting schedules and if there's a conflict where both of us are running, we'll try to swap dates or figure out something where we're not running on top of each other," Greathouse said. "Like Fallon, we need the out-of-town car count as bad as they do. We both go over there and race and their guys come here to race."

American Valley has a different take on scheduling due to weather and how popular high school football is there.

"We try to be done the week after school starts but we added a race this year," Nieman said. "And we start as soon as we can in May, because of the snow here. The last weekend in April is a play day and the first weekend in May is our first race."

One change at American Valley concerns the Modifieds, which is a growing class.

"We thought if we didn't run for points we'd get more cars and it's been working. But this year they want points so we're going for points next season," Nieman said.

Outlaw karts are another staple at both tracks. At American Valley there are at least three, maybe four classes and those races are run in the afternoon prior to the cars taking the track.

Up to this year, the Outlaw Karts at Lovelock are part of the track's regular show. Just like their counterparts in Quincy, this type of racing for the kids has become quite popular.

"I think when we got started we only had six to 10 karts," Reese said. "Now we've got 30 to 40 that's coming over and running all the time so we split them up in age groups to help. And I think next year it's going to be a big thing here."

Asked about the karts, Greathouse said. "We're going to have to look at running them in the afternoon when we check our count on karts."

Next year Reese will once again become president of the club and plans spending the winter knocking on doors for sponsorship and other things. Looking ahead both men are optimistic about the track's future.

"I think we'll have a successful season next year," Reese said.

For Nieman there will be some changes but things look good for American Valley. One is that the DART (Dwarfs At Reno/Tahoe) now has American Valley as their home track.

"It's a very big plus as people in town love to watch those little cars," Nieman said. "The challenge is keeping the car count and dealing with the Fair Board. But it looks real good for next year, our Civil War race was good and we want to do a two-day show and we'll do our 410 Golden State Challenge race and have more modified races."

He also realizes that one class will drop a bit as two drivers move on.

"My Dwarf Cars and Modifieds are doing well but my pro stocks are going to drop off as Jay Sears and Travis Petersen (The 2008 and 2009 champion) are going Modifieds," he said.

Just like the club in Lovelock, which received backing from Pershing County and the town, American Valley also had its supporters. Nieman appreciates the backing he's gotten from the Plumas County Board of Supervisors as well as the head of the Fair Board.

The next year looks bright for both of these short tracks. And once again, they'll offer good local entertainment, action packed racing and a fun, family experience for their fans.

OTHER RACING NEWS

•Two motorcycle series bring the curtain down on racing in this region with a pair of two-day shows.

The Sierra MX series visits Hawthorne MX Park and racing begins at noon each day. On Saturday the Pee Wees, 65 Beginners and Quads get their turn while the other classes face off on Sunday.

MRANN runs its final race of the season, the "Dead Camel 100," south of Fallon. It's also a tribute event to honor the memory of young Corey Herring, who lost his life at a race on Father's Day.

Saturday's action begins at 9 a.m. with the first of two Pee Wee races followed by the Mini Bikes at 11 a.m. and ending with a 1 p.m. start to the V Women's race.

Sunday's Big Bike race begins at 10 a.m. and features two 47 1/2-mile loops with riders needing to complete one lap to be classed as finishers.
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