For those of you on the east coast where drag strips are like convenience stores, out in the west that is not the case.
However, smack dab in the middle of Washington State there is a track which has been operating for fifty years. Honestly, for the first forty years, it bounced back and forth between sanctioning bodies. And it had a bit of a rough reputation for not being, well the nicest facility in the world.
One main reason for the poor reputation was Proboscidea louisianica, a plant in the family Martyniaceae is native in parts of the western United States. The locals call them goat heads. The goat head looks like a Chinese torture device..They will tear up your shoes, your feet and a race car tire in a heartbeat. It is a noxious weed that is harder to get rid of than cockroaches.
Nevertheless, this along with all the other challenges, meant that the track struggled to hold events that might have any prominence. The track held mostly local shows that drew just enough hardy souls to keep the track open.
That all changed in 2011, when a hard-charging, full of energy, man came down from of all places Alaska and worked his way into taking over the track.
Derek Snelson is a force of nature who is so singularly focused on the sport of drag racing. He is a legacy, a throwback to days gone by. He dives headlong into projects with grit and determination.
So when Snelson took over the property he knew he would have his work cut out for him. One of the other items that he has to manage is that the track sits on is part of the Yakima Indian Reservation. Another piece of the puzzle.
Therefore, short of resources but long on desire, Snelson set out to transform the facility to the best of his abilities. With his life partner Sara Cullen, the two got busy. Long days and nights, and throw in a recession or two, it was going to be a long row to hoe.
Through sheer determination, Renegade Raceway started to turn the corner. Snelson started to get more dedicated sponsors for the track, and people started to believe in what he was doing. To help bring in additional resources Snelson himself, tours the northwest running his Warhawk jet funny car at about 10-12 dates a year. The Yakima tribe has also started to buy into his vision, with more support.
Ten years later, the goat heads are gone, there are updates to the facilities large and small every year is starting to show the culture that Snelson has worked so hard to develop.
When Snelson began managing Renegade according to Cullen, “we would get 80 to 100 cars on our big races.” This past weekend at the Trick or Treat Shootout, there were about 300 cars that showed up, pretty impressive due to the fact that a number of big names racers in this region who attended last year were back east for the million-dollar events. In addition, no cars from Canada could make the race due to Covid restrictions. The Canadians would easily add about another 50- 75 or so cars if not more. That’s would have been a great turn out. According to Cullen “We have had over four hundred cars, for an event, and would love to do it again.”
Nevertheless, the word is getting out about this little track in Central Washington. There is a very cool nostalgic feel to the track. Drive-in movie seating (back of a pickup and a cooler) just fulfils the nostalgic vibe. And due to its central location in Division Six, it would not surprise that turnout at Renegade Raceway continues to increase.
This past weekend at the 7th Annual Trick or Treat Special happened and this event like many others at Renegade continues to grow in participation and popularity with the local fans. This event would be run on the eighth mile. It seems more and more of the quicker racers like eighth mile.
There were five classes that ran this even including a Super Quick Class, Box (Cars with Electronics) No Box, Junior Street (regular street cars) and both Junior Dragster classes, Junior Thunder and Junior Lightning.
This was the weekend of the double up as you will see. This event is set up as a “double header”, each day is an individual race. There is a theme going on here.
Eliminations started in late Saturday afternoon and continued well into early Sunday morning. When it was all said and done the Super Quick class it was Don Sefton taking the win 4.33-159.68 over Yeshua Wilcox 4.92-136.40
On Sunday evening the super quick winner was Ellensburg, Washington’s David Scondi. Scondi had been super consistent all day long, running between 4.85. and 4.88 all day long. As the sun went down on Sunday evening, he was to have met Emmett McKillop in the finals. However, the McKillop mount broke in his semi final round victory, and that allowed Secondi and uncontested taking of the tree for the win.
In the Box Class on Saturday evening it was Brian Jennen taking the win over Carson Campbell. Not that it wasn’t hard enough to win, Jennen decided to double up and also win in the No Box class that evening as well. Jennen defeated Larry McLanahan 7.44-89.17 to 7.46- 89.67. Jennen on Saturday evening won fifteen rounds of racing in both classes!!!! Kind of like doing an Iron Man!
Sunday’s Box winner was Cooper Chun, he defeated the same Emmett McKillop who was the runner up in Super Quick.
Another racer doubling up was Charles Burkevics taking both nights in the Junior Street division racing the car that almost nobody else does, 1996 Chevy C-15 van. It is deadly consistent, dial 12.55 and turn it loose. Nice work young man!!! His opponent on both nights was James Stanton who was also consistent all weekend long, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Not to be outdone by the big cars another double up happened in Junior Thunder as Ty Gaynor won both Saturday and Sunday.
In Junior Lightning on Saturday it was Anastazja Gossette taking the win over Ian Theofelis, and on Sunday it was Lindsey Miller taking the win over Cole Dickhoff.
In addition to the racing there was a costume contest, and trick or treating that went for all the kids. It was a very laid back and enjoyable weekend for all who attended.
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— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) September 20, 2020