YAKIMA — After a coronavirus-depleted 2020 season that saw only the 33rd annual Fall Classic contested in October, Yakima Speedway appears headed for an even quieter 2021 season.
And quite possibly far beyond that.
Doug Bettarel and Randy Marshall Sr., who have operated and promoted the track in recent years, have announced that owner Ted Pollock has opted to not lease the facility for racing this year.
Details are still pending, but Pollock's son Tom confirmed Tuesday that the ongoing effort to sell the 46-acre property is a factor in not extending the lease. Pollock, who has owned the track for 65 years, nearly had the property sold in 2017 before an investment group backed out.
Marshall believes this means the Speedway "is closed for good" and wanted to reach out to all those who "gave their heart and soul" to the iconic half-mile paved oval.
Bettarel, a local businessman who championed the survival of the track, called it a "crushing blow" for a track with such a long history and heavy community involvement.
Yakima Speedway had appeared on several touring schedules for 2021, including the Northwest Super Late Model Series for a Aug. 21 visit, but those schedules have been changed. The NWSLM tour will compete at the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval, Evergreen and South Sound tracks in Washington along with two in Idaho and one in Oregon.
The Speedway typically bookends its seasons with its two premier events — the Apple Cup and Fall Classic. Even though the Apple Cup, which dates back to the 1960s, would normally be held in April the track didn't release its local schedule to avoid putting "out any false hopes," according to Marshall.
This marks the second blow to Northwest auto racing following the February announcement that Spokane County Raceway, which includes a road course, oval and drag strip, would not operate in 2021.
In 2017, Bettarel and Ron Bennett leased Yakima Speedway after the sale fell through in the spring and held a shortened summer and fall season. Betteral carried on from there with the lease through last year.