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SUPERSPEEDWAY THAT DIED
An auto-racing superspeedway is bigger than a racetrack and just slightly smaller than, say, Rhode Island, and when a huge, $25.5 million version of one opened barely two years ago at Ontario, Calif. the motor-sports world regarded it with pride as the daddy of them all. Ontario Motor Speedway had everything: a 2.5-mile oval for Indy-type racing, a sinuous inner circuit for sports cars, a drag strip, facilities for 140,506 spectators, even a rather fancy restaurant called the Victory Circle Club. The U.S. Auto Club quickly installed a yearly 500-mile event as one leg of auto racing's triple crown (the others being Indianapolis and Pocono), an army of fans turned out and everything roared right along. Until last week. That's when Ontario ran out of gas.
The finances are complicated but the basic problem seems clear enough: Ontario has to pay $535,000 annually in taxes and more than $1 million in interest on bonds—backers had provided splendid amounts of money to make sure things were done right—and there simply is not enough money coming in to pay the bills. Auto racing is a traveling show, like the circus, and, as Ontario found out, there are not enough major races to go around.
A nonprofit corporation that has taken over temporary management of the property is meeting this week in an attempt to come up with something that might keep the raceway going. The only solution appears to be multipurpose use: keep the track and the races, but throw in some conventions, auto and trade shows, an exhibition or two and, say, how about a nice big shopping center right there?
The last idea may be the ultimate answer to the monster created by the overreachers. Only in America would anyone dream of such a solution. Be careful as you leave the checkout counter for your car, lady. There's a big race going on out there in the parking lot.
According to Harrah's Tahoe Racebook, the biggest upset in this year's college bowl games would be an Ohio State win over Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Next biggest would be Notre Dame beating Nebraska in the Orange and Penn State beating Oklahoma in the Sugar.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
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