EAST WENATCHEE — The grandstands were empty but the track was hot Saturday at Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval, which kicked off its 50th season with the Dicks Heating & Air Conditioning Opening Night at the Races.
In total, 40 drivers across four classes — Bandoleros, Roadrunners, Thunder Cars and Pro-Late Models — took a green flag in the track’s first race since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.
“Racing wise, it was great,” Super Oval General Manager Jeremy Anders said Monday. “We had close battles all night long and the race was side-by-side in the main event with three cars battling the last couple laps. But every class had some great racing.”
Glenn Knutson, Quincy, took the checkered flag in the 75-lap main event, beating out his older brother Michael and Josh Ingram, Wenatchee, who finished second and third.
Seth Frazier, East Wenatchee, placed first in the Thunder Cars classification — with Terry Osborn, East Wenatchee, taking second, and Michael Knutson finishing third.
John Doyle, East Wenatchee, placed first in the Roadrunners, and Allie-Mae Jones, Puyallup, took the checkered in Bandoleros.
“Once the green flag flew in that first race, it felt like we were back,” Anders said. “And it was like that the rest of the night.”
Though fans weren’t allowed in the stands, some did watch along the fenceline and sat with the pit-crews. The race was also broadcast live on NCWLIFE for viewers at home.
“Racing is one of those sports that is a lot better live for sure — just with the smells and sounds — but I thought the experience (of having it broadcasted) was great,” Anders said. “It’s our first time putting a race on TV, so our next one will be even more improved.”
Anders said he thought the car count was a little low, but he felt drivers were delaying working on their cars until the season got going and anticipated the number of racers to increase at North Valley Mechanical Night on July 11 — where Pro-Late models, Junior-Late models, Thunder Cars, Vintage Modified cars and Dwarf Cars are all set to run.
“Those junior late models (with kids aged 11-15 racing full-size models) will be interesting because it’s going to be the first time they hit the track,” Anders said.
Overall, Anders felt it was just good to get back to some sense of normalcy.
“I remember shutting off the lights four months ago planning to have the greatest season we’ve ever had. A month ago we were planning on not racing at all and having to close down the business. So, it felt good to get one race under our belt. I saw smiles on the guys’ faces and it was nice to give some positivity back in people’s lives.”