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1988 Spokane Grand Prix

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  • 1988 Spokane Grand Prix

    I'm trying to find info on this race and am having an incredibly difficult time.

    Does anyone know anything about the open-wheel race that ran in Spokane, WA, in 1988? It may have run another year as well, but I can't remember. It was plagued with track/logistics problems that I don't think it did, but I could be wrong.

    I also don't know much about OW from the 80's. Was it a CART race? I don't think so, but I do know it was of cars of similar style.

    I apologize for the sketchy info, but Google has not been kind to me.

  • #2
    Atlantic raced there, Johnny O'Connell was the winner, but I don't know anything else about that race or what else was on the schedule.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Vic Mackey
      Atlantic raced there, Johnny O'Connell was the winner, but I don't know anything else about that race or what else was on the schedule.
      The Spokane Grand Prix. They ran NASCAR Winston West up there. Budweiser 300, won in 1987 and 1988 by Roy Smith. That's right-NASCAR street race. The West series has always seemed a little more open to road racing than the Southern boys, racing at places like Spokane, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Sears Point, and other road courses.

      IIRC the whole thing was a money-looser, but that was 20 years ago and my memory of it is a little foggy. All I remember was seeing news reports about it on TV and that they didn't seem to be positive. I think they viewed it as a couple of trial years before making a bid for a big event like an Indy car race, trying to prove themselves the way Long Beach did with F5000 before getting an F1 race, but they never got it to work.

      Edit: Here's the wiki article on the late ARCA racer Chris Gehrke, stating that he won a Star Mazda race at that event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Gehrke
      Last edited by Sea Fury; 03-13-2008, 03:37 PM.
      "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

      "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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      • #4
        Seem to recall the American Indycar Series ran in Spokane.

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        • #5
          Wow, stock cars? I don't remember that at all...crazy!

          The race I was at was definitely OW and it was probably the first time I really fell for these cars. The sound, in person, was amazing.

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          • #6
            Found this (thanks, Vic, for the O'Connell tip); looks like Formula Atlantics for '87 and '88:

            07/05/87, WCAR, Spokane, Johnny O'Connell, Ralt/Ford RT4
            07/03/88, WCAR, Spokane, Johnny O'Connell, Ralt/Ford RT4


            And the following headlines from July 6, 1987:

            "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell grabbed the lead on the fifth lap and won the 40-lap Formula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane (Wash.). Formula Atlantic cars are scaled-down versions of Indy cars."

            "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell grabbed the lead on the fifth lap and held off Ted Prappas the rest of the way to win the 40-lapFormula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane. O'Connell's victory margin in the 66-mile race was 6.5 seconds."

            "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell took the lead on the fifth lap and held off Ted Prappas to win the 40-lap Formula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane, Wash."
            Last edited by Twehttam; 03-13-2008, 04:28 PM. Reason: More details added

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sea Fury
              The Spokane Grand Prix. They ran NASCAR Winston West up there. Budweiser 300, won in 1987 and 1988 by Roy Smith. That's right-NASCAR street race. The West series has always seemed a little more open to road racing than the Southern boys, racing at places like Spokane, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Sears Point, and other road courses.

              IIRC the whole thing was a money-looser, but that was 20 years ago and my memory of it is a little foggy. All I remember was seeing news reports about it on TV and that they didn't seem to be positive. I think they viewed it as a couple of trial years before making a bid for a big event like an Indy car race, trying to prove themselves the way Long Beach did with F5000 before getting an F1 race, but they never got it to work.
              NASCAR's Western series also had a "street race" around the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA.

              And, of course, one of the main reasons the Western series has run at so many road courses was out of necessity. The fact that there were good road course facilities in the Western U.S., while larger ovals - even 1/2 miles - were in short supply. I remember times where ESPN commentators would talk about how road racing "dominated" the Western series, which wasn't accurate. I think 5 was the most in one season.

              The FIA required courses to hold a preliminary race before sanctioning a championship F1 GP, so that's why Long Beach hosted the F5000 race (it was unusual to do that so close to the proposed date. It had always been done approximately a year earlier. Of course, being a city street course, LBGP organizers were able to argue on behalf of special circumstances).

              Many street race promoters in smaller markets probably hoped to have a CART race or even IMSA race, but they were being unrealistic...think about how many other short lived 80's era "street races" there were with secondary classes.
              "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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              • #8
                They also ran, if I remember the name right, the American City Racing League, and I think one other small open wheel class.

                The race was run right around the 4th of July both years, and there were weather problems both years. The city would not allow the organizers (led by Chad Little's mom, Terri I believe) to shut down the streets until late Thursday night and they never had enough volunteers to get the barriers and fencing up until late Friday afternoon either year.

                It was neat track, it ran through a tunnel at one point, under Riverfront Park in downtown, and crossed the Spokane River twice. We always sat in the stands above the tunnel and the cars would go right underneath us, way cool, probably 100 feet above the track. My dad and I got pit passes and I remember standing about 10 feet from Hershel McGriff and being too big a wuss to get shake his hand.

                I have the programs from both years, and even a couple bottles of "Spokane Grand Prix Wine" (I think I have both red and white) if anybody would like more information.

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                • #9
                  Randy, if you don't mind shooting more info my way, I'd love it.

                  I was at at least one of those and I distinctly remember being at Riverfront Park with my Dad and brother as the cars whipped by. Great memory.

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                  • #10
                    Ah the fond memories..... I was 11 for the first race my father was running in the Formula Ford class he finished 6th with a broken sway bar.... in 1988 he couldn't race because he hadn't competed in enough races that year, so he rented the car to Mark Jaremko he qualified second. On the last lap i think it was Eric Youngstrom that was in the lead and watched in his mirror the guy in second, his name eludes me #8, have a lapped car get in his way and take him out. Eric was a bit more worried about what was going on behind him to notice the turn and he caught the wall. Mark Jaremko was given the lead and the win.

                    there was Formula Ford, formula atlantic, NASCAR's Westerns and the sport 2000 cars i'm not sure if it was the American City Racing League at that time but it's the same cars use in that series.


                    if you look in the google news archives now most of the Spokesman Review papers from then have been scanned in

                    1987
                    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...rontpage&hl=en

                    1988
                    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...rontpage&hl=en

                    oddly the July 3 1988 paper is MIA which for me is kinda amusing because i know i have bits of it

                    yea it was a money looser but it wasn't the races fault the SPD was paid like 25K to provide security and didn't people were knocking down fences and getting in for free while the police that were suppose to stop it watched.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sea Fury View Post
                      Edit: Here's the wiki article on the late ARCA racer Chris Gehrke, stating that he won a Star Mazda race at that event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Gehrke
                      Wow. I had no idea that Chris did any open wheel. He was a very talented racer and his death was doubly tragic because it was so unnecessary.

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                      • #12
                        here are a few images i have on the PC right now from then..


                        This image is of the Fleckinstein HM1 (Home made one), built by Gregory La Tendresse and John Fleckinsteine (sp? been years) and support facility for the car that was the winner of the 1988 Formula Club Ford race. It now sits a little worse for ware about 25 ft behind me.



                        And a post card.... you still see those barriers being used around Spokane flat on one side and three times as thick as a normal one.
                        Last edited by latendresse76; 06-04-2012, 11:48 AM. Reason: spelling

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Twehttam View Post
                          Found this (thanks, Vic, for the O'Connell tip); looks like Formula Atlantics for '87 and '88:

                          07/05/87, WCAR, Spokane, Johnny O'Connell, Ralt/Ford RT4
                          07/03/88, WCAR, Spokane, Johnny O'Connell, Ralt/Ford RT4


                          And the following headlines from July 6, 1987:

                          "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell grabbed the lead on the fifth lap and won the 40-lap Formula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane (Wash.). Formula Atlantic cars are scaled-down versions of Indy cars."

                          "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell grabbed the lead on the fifth lap and held off Ted Prappas the rest of the way to win the 40-lapFormula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane. O'Connell's victory margin in the 66-mile race was 6.5 seconds."

                          "Pole-sitter Johnny O'Connell took the lead on the fifth lap and held off Ted Prappas to win the 40-lap Formula Atlantic race in the inaugural Grand Prix of Spokane, Wash."

                          Cool Fourth of July weekend event.

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                          • #14
                            Great stuff!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chaparral 2k View Post
                              Great stuff!
                              Great to see you online Calvin

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