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Officiating team named for Champion Motor Speedway

Rhonda costa-landers

Cathleen Allison photo

Les Kynett, general manager of Champion Motor Speedway, has announced Tom Shelton as director of competition for the upcoming racing season. Shelton, 63, is a longtime resident of Carson City and has been in the racing community for 46 years.

“Tom has a huge amount of experience, in excess of 40 years,” Kynett said. “He used to be president of Sierra Nevada Auto Racing Association, which was the controlling body of the racetrack in the ’70s. I’ve known him since 1982.”

Shelton said it was kind of a shocker to him to be contacted by Kynett, but more of a shocker the track changed hands.

“I’ve wanted to see things get better all the time, but it wasn’t working well enough,” Shelton said. “I think I can change that.”

Shelton said it’s a challenge for anybody to run a racetrack the way it needs to be done. He’s seen all the problems that have occurred over the years, but they’re the same problems happening at other tracks.

“If I’m known for having a hot temper, it’s because I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “I like things to work out right. But racing is fun and you have to enjoy it to do it. There’s no other reason to be involved in it.”

Shelton’s father was in racing, himself, his children and grandchildren are. His wife, Jacie, is also a supporter.

“We got married the year I started racing. That says something right there, it’s been 56 years.”

Shelton said with rules and racing regulations for each division already in place, no major changes are planned.

“There will be minor adjustments, but we will primarily leave everything as is. You don’t want to change things suddenly on things the guys have already put into place.”

An addition to this year’s officiating is a “competition committee.” It consists of men who have been in the racing community for many years and will provide necessary expertise in various areas. They are: Phil Perry, Harold Long, Bob Oliver and Rob Wood.

“These guys are all experienced people. People who are familiar with all aspects of racing like chassis, carburation and racing in general.”

Shelton said he’s looking for consistency in officiating and doesn’t want to be black flag happy. He wants to remind others things will happen in short track racing, blatant things, but he and other officials will be in spotting areas to keep an eye on the cars.

“We will be giving a lot more thought to situations before people are penalized,” he said. “We’re going to be consistent and fair to everybody. No special favors to anybody and not just one person making decisions.”

Shelton also said in the past when drivers or their crew had questions regarding rules, they didn’t know who to go to. This was a complaint made by many in the pit area.

“We want to get racing back to where it’s fun and fair, and not just for a few. I don’t want people yelled at in pit meetings, I want them greeted nicely. We want them here and I want them to know that. It used to be that way and will again.”

Shelton said he feels he has the best officials he can have, noting it was time to get new faces.

“I don’t know it all but I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been a member of NASCAR since 1970 and it rubs off when you see what works and what doesn’t. And I won’t have an official being involved with a car and being an official. It just doesn’t work.”

Who’s an official/area:

Tom Shelton, director of competition; Robby Shelton, head of tech, event director and assistant to Tom; Alex Hutchison, chief pit steward; Sandy Parkhurst, pit board, race lineup, timing and assistant to Hutchison; Ryan Parkhurst, technician, assistant to Robby; Meladie Lawrence, pit entry steward; Jim Lawrence, flagman; Mel Sweeney, Legends official, flagman as needed; Daniel Boyer, infield steward, safety crew; second technician to be named.

“I’m not sure about scorers, Les is taking care of that,” Shelton said. “But they’ve got a big and important job.

“Our roots are here and I love this racetrack. That’s why I accepted this position. Racing’s been very good to me and my family. If I can give a little bit back, I will. I’m definitely not in it for the glory.

“I hope at the end of the year, whether they like me or not, they say it was worth it and had fun. And I had fun.”

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.