RMR closes its track for the final time
Sep 18, 2018 02:37PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Lynn Hardy has been a past champion at the racetrack, but starting next year he will need to take his talents someplace else. (Action Sports Photography)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The 2018 summer racing season has come to a close. Rocky Mountain Raceway has closed the doors and locked the gates. It’s the end of an era for local motorsports enthusiasts.
“I have had a storied career at Rocky Mountain Raceway,” Jimmy Waters said. “I was one of the first to make a lap on the track, and I hope to be one of the last. In the 20-plus years the track has been open, I have called it my second home. I am devastated by it closing. It will be like a part of the family is gone.”
The multi-purpose facility hosted motocross, drag racing and oval track events in its final season. It has been in operation for 23 years. The Young Automotive Group owned and operated the track.
Its closing marks the end of drag and oval track racing in the Salt Lake Valley. Racing in the state is first documented at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1912. Salt Lake City housed the fairgrounds track near downtown and Bonneville Raceways near the current RMR location.
“I have had several family members that have helped me keep my cars running,” Waters said. “Then they have raced. I have grandkids in cars now. It is a family place for us. It is like one big family that we have had for several years.”
Many oval track competitors arrive early for practice and stay late running the main event. Families can be seen in the pits area sharing pot luck dinners and racing stories.
“We can share parts and pieces, but when the green flag drops, we are all for ourselves,” Waters said. “We are all trying to do the best we can.”
The Maverik Modifieds have had a tightly contested championship in 2018. Tyler Whetstone (No. 00) has clinched the season title. Former champion Lynn Hardy finished second.
“Winning NASCAR championships in the early 2000s and winning the Sam Young Memorial weekend are some of my top memories,” Hardy said. “I met my wife at the track. A few of my relatives race. I think I have raised my kids at the track. It takes a lot of work and it is an accomplishment to win. I think the modifieds is probably the most competitive car class. When we put our helmets on we are not friends anymore.”
Waters and Hardy both expressed interest in traveling to race. There are tracks near Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho, that host competitive racing series similar to RMR. Delta, Vernal and Rock Springs have dirt tracks that offer different types of oval track racing.
“A lot of memories were made and good times had,” Hardy said. “I hate to see it go away. I think it was one of the best tracks in the western United States. There are lots of rumors, and I wish something could be built. I hope to participate in the Royal Purple Modified Series next year, but that means some travel to other tracks.”
The drag racers will need to go to Boise and Las Vegas for the nearest racing competitions. Heading into the final race weekend (after press deadline) Frank Santarosa leads the NHRA super pro division. Karl Martin leads NHRA pro.
“Some of the younger kids started in quarter midgets and are now up competing,” Waters said. “The unfortunate part is not only are we losing one of the best facilities in the country, but now the younger racers will need to invest more money to enjoy the sport. It is sad to see it go.”
The 50-acre racing facility was sold in 2014 to Freeport West. RMR held a five-year lease on the property that finishes after this season.
In a written statement RMR General Manager Mike Eames said, “I am proud of the 23 years and historic racing and family memories we’ve made.”