Thursday's Deluge Leaves Race Track Underwater


FERNLEY, NV - It was a rare sight in the high desert, where rain is an infrequent visitor. Thursday a tropical-like downpour drenched the landscape around Fernley. flooding I-80 near Wadsworth after storm drains were blocked, causing the Interstate to be shut down for a time.

Friday there was little evidence of the cloudburst other than some standing pools of water here and there.

But one location, the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway, was still reeling from the storm.

"This morning at about 4 o'clock you could have had boat races out here," said the raceway's owner Dan Simpson watching as pumps slowly drained the dirt oval. "There was four feet of water all around the whole track."

The Speedway south of Fernley was set to host a major stop on the King of the West Sprint Car races, a two-day race meet beginning Friday night. Racers and fans will have to wait a day.

"I didn't think the water would go away as fast as it has, so we thought it was best to cancel tonight. We'll be ready to race tomorrow night.

Simpson has owned this track for just a year and of the possible problems he expected moving to this track in the desert, this was low on the list.

"It was. I never thought it would happen. In fact I've got tons of pumps at home in California because we live on the Sacramento River when we're over there and I thought 'ah, we won't need those pumps over here."

But, he says he's been surprised at how quickly things are drying out.
and he says the track will be ready tomorrow.

In fact, the track surface should be in great shape.

There's some irony to all of this. Normally, before a race here, the staff spends some time preparing the surface by...you guessed it...putting water on it.

"It's crazy," admits Simpson. "We're going to have back on the upper portions you see over there and put water trucks and put water where we had floods last night."

The races are on for Saturday. In fact, Simpson says fans will be treated to a racing double-header as the sprint cars will be joined by the modified class.

At the moment, though, the only one enjoying himself out here was Simpson's Border Collie, diving into the water and darting in and out of the pump's stream, barking excitedly.

"Everyone's getting a kick out of it," says Simpson, "because they know she has to get in my car when we leave."

The other venues at the Speedway, including the road course and drag strip, escaped any damage.


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