Gentlemen, start your engines

Kitsap County is one of several proposed sites for a professional-grade car-racing facility that could host two major events a year, according to sources close to the project.

“We are interested in building a major motor sports facility in the Pacific Northwest,” said David Talley, spokesman for the International Speedway Corp. in Daytona Beach, Fla. “We are looking at a lot of different locations in Oregon and Washington, and we are at the early stages.”

“We have been approached about this facility and have provided information,” said David Porter, executive director of the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council in Bremerton. “We have not made any commitments and there are a lot of unanswered questions. But you don’t see this kind of project very often.”

Porter declined to enumerate the unanswered questions, citing client confidentiality.

Porter was part of a delegation that traveled to Kansas City last month to inspect an ISC Corp. facility. County commissioner Jan Angel, who also made the trip, said she was impressed with the organization of the NASCAR event visited by the delegation.

“It was one of the most efficient operations that I’ve ever seen,” Angel said. “They had everything timed to the second, and after the event there was nothing — not a scrap of paper — on the ground.

“They seem to be good neighbors, and are conscious about the environment,” she said.

Angel called the potential economic impact on the area “significant.” As for negatives, she said some people may be displaced to make room for the facility.

ISC has 12 facilities throughout the continental United States, the closest in Fontana, Calif.

Talley said it could take three years from choosing the location to completion. “This is especially true in the Northwest, when you never know if the weather will cooperate,” he said.

While there may be several small-scale events scheduled at the proposed facility, Talley said that races such has the NASCAR NexTel Cup that can draw upwards of 80,000 people could occur twice a year. And while building such a facility will pave the way for further development, the ISC wants to choose a place that already has a significant tourist infrastructure.

Angel said the county has been in discussion about the project “for some time” and said she was surprised when she heard the county was in the running.

At that point, Oct. 3, she “dropped everything” and traveled to Kansas City, Kan., for a tour of a working ISC operation.

Angel, the South Kitsap county commissioner, said she paid her own expenses for the trip.

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