Champion Motor Speedway General Manager Jeb Onweiler has chosen not to stay with the track so he can pursue a partnership with Maui businessman Les Harris. Onweiler and Harris will establish and work at a Maui-based motorsports management company.
"My work here caught the eye of Les Harris," Onweiler said. "We were familiar with each other when I was GM at Hawaii Raceway Park in Oahu."
Onweiler has mixed emotions about leaving Carson City. He has brought an increase in attendance numbers to the track but was frustrated at his inability to do more entertainment activities because the city would not grant him special use permits.
"I'm in the entertainment business. There were things I wanted to do that were safe and fun and exciting, but we couldn't do it without a permit."
Onweiler gives accolades to the staff of the racetrack. From race director Robert Kline to the fans, old and new as well as sponsors, old and new.
"Everybody who contributed in every way, I'm appreciative of all of them," he said. "Our success is due to everyone's participation. I couldn't have done it without any of them.
"This racetrack can offer strong social and economic impact for Carson City. I wish they (city) would take a better look at what we're trying to do. It downplayed my excitement for trying to do stuff out here. It's frustrating for me as a promoter."
Property lessees Jim Bawden and Henry Hodges Jr. said they've had some real success and operations at the track have moved forward.
"Viewership has certainly moved ahead," Bawden said. "With our success and fact we haven't had any complaints (regarding operations), proves the venue is running more smoothly, we may be able to continue with our success."
Bawden said they are parting amicably and have not yet reached a deal with anyone to replace Onweiler.
"We are advertising nationally and should have some pretty good exposure and have someone in place pretty soon," Bawden said. "We're seeing success from the hard work done by everyone -- Jeb, Dawn Lee and Robert Kline."
Onweiler said he has had almost daily conversations with Kline, who has dedicated untold hours and money to make sure the track had what it needed.
"Never have I had a more dedicated director from start to finish as Kline," Onweiler said. "We had a true partnership."
Onweiler said he has some regrets about leaving early because he will not accomplish everything he wanted to. Though there has been strong growth in fan attendance, he is disappointed about car counts.
"We've had exciting, quick-paced shows, but car counts have to come up. The next person (who comes in) has to concentrate their efforts on that area. Work on the deficiencies at the speedway and stick with the rules -- be consistent."
He also recommends the general manager stick with the family entertainment thing. Onweiler's concentrated on taking care of mom and the kids so everyone has a fun time. The positive aspect is in providing a fun-filled entertainment venue for the family.
"This is a very attractive track to take over," Onweiler said. "It's on the upswing and is very healthy. With the right person they will have continued success. But I want to give a big shout out to my staff, scorers, announcer, staff in the pits and on the track. They did a great job and I'm not the easiest guy to work for."
Onweiler and Harris will manage a 200-acre racing facility that includes an NHRA drag strip, dirt oval track, motocross, go-kart and RC (remote control) track.