New sponsorship, new promise for Champion Motor Speedway | NevadaAppeal.com
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New sponsorship, new promise for Champion Motor Speedway

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Les Schwab Tires of Northern Nevada will sponsor the new street stock competitors at Carson City’s Champion Motor Speedway.

Track manager Jeb Onweiler said the economic boost could benefit all of Carson City. The sponsorship started Jan. 13.

“This is huge for us,” Onweiler said. “Without corporate involvement and money coming in, we can’t operate effectively.”

The sponsorship allows the speedway owners to promote the racetrack in the Reno, Carson and Lake Tahoe markets. Doing that effectively will be good for Carson City, bringing millions of dollars into the local economy, Onweiler said.

“When the track reaches its optimum potential as the No. 1 sports entertainment facility in Northern Nevada, we can focus on other types of events like concerts,” he said. “The track has tremendous potential. We have to work hard to maximize our opportunities.”

Economic times are tough, and many tracks are losing their corporate sponsorships, Onweiler said.

“Everyone is watching their budgets,” he said. “We have to be really creative, looking to partnerships rather than sponsorships.”

Les Schwab tires will be used by all street stock competitors. This is expected to hold down the cost of racing and put the competition on a level playing field.

“The tire bill on a race car is one of the biggest expenses these guys face,” said Robert Kline, race director. “This way, they will have an affordable tire to race on and someone with a big budget can’t go out and buy an unfair tire advantage.”

“We’re pleased to become affiliated with Champion Motor Speedway,” said Kirk Buck, regional marketing director for Les Schwab. “We feel the speedway is heading in a positive direction, and we want to contribute to that success.”

In its 40th year, the speedway is owned by Larry Burton. Local businessmen Henry Hodges Jr. and Jim Bawden are operating the track under a lease agreement and hope to eventually purchase the property.

The track conducts a wide range of racing from open wheel to stock cars, super modifieds and karts every Saturday night from April to October. Onweiler said programs emphasize family entertainment.

“In today’s society, you have to be in the entertainment business,” he said. “I stay away from wet T-shirts, and there aren’t any half-naked women passing out trophies. If I can, I get the kids to give them out.

“I have a passion for motorsports, but for me it’s all about putting on an exciting show that starts and ends on time. I measure my success by the smiles on the people’s faces and looks in their eyes.”