Could you survive driving at 150 mph? We hit top speed in a real NASCAR race car
The Walden family were all together at a family barbecue last year around this time when someone asked the question?
“Why don’t we do a big Labor Day Spectacular race like we used to at Tri-City Raceway?”
And simple as that, that’s what they’re doing this weekend at Hermiston Raceway.
“It started gaining traction right away with the drivers,” said Greg Walden. “And a whole other group of guys wanted to come along and race their cars in their (lower) divisions.
Walden is expecting 165 race teams over the two days of competition.
On Saturday – gates open at 4:30 p.m., racing begins at 6 on both nights – the theme is Open Wheel Thunder, headed by the Sprints and Modifieds, with the WESCO Sprint Car Series Championship set.
On Sunday, the headliner is the Northwest Super Late Model series Atomic 125.
The legendary Garrett Evans, of East Wenatchee, will be driving.
So will the following Mid-Columbians: Ken Bonney of Hermiston, Kennewick’s Tyler Brown, Jim Franklin of Kennewick, Prosser’s CJ Hawley, and Kennewick’s Ed Thomsen.
There will also be plenty of undercard races.
The Labor Day Spectacular weekend was an annual event from 1988 to 1998 at Tri-City Raceway when family patriarch Wayne Walden ran the track in West Richland.
Now his son, Greg Walden, has been the promoter at Hermiston Raceway for two years and the place has been buzzing since. It’s a family affair. His brother runs the concessions, and Wayne acts as a consultant with his years of knowledge.
They’re all confident it will be a fun weekend.
“It should be good,” said Greg Walden. “The last regular-scheduled race night was July 20 right before the boat races. The place was packed. Now, granted, the place is not that big.”
But 2,000 race fans each night can get in.
So it would be no surprise if the Walden family ends up with 4,000 fans over the two days.
Ticket prices are $20 each night for general admission (or $35 for a combination of both nights); $17 a night for seniors, military or students (or $30 for both nights); $12 for a nightly youth ticket (or $20 for both nights); or $50 for a one-night family pass (or $90 for both nights).
This won’t be the last weekend of racing in Hermiston.
Walden said there will be racing on Saturday, Sept. 14, and Saturday, Sept. 28, to finish out the season.
Dust Devils make playoffs
The Tri-City Dust Devils beat Vancouver 8-5 on the road Friday afternoon, helping them clinch a Northwest League playoff berth for the first time since 2015.
The Dust Devils will open the Northern Division, best-of-3 playoff series in Spokane on Wednesday night. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be held at Gesa Stadium on Thursday and Friday.
Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer are the two teams involved in the Southern Division playoffs.
Winners of the two playoff series will play for the league title in a best-of-5 series.
Meanwhile, the Dust Devils still have a regular season-ending series Saturday through Monday in Pasco against – you guessed it, the Spokane Indians. All three games this weekend start at 7:15 p.m.
• Kelvin Melean of the Dust Devils was named to the Northwest League season all-star team this week as a second baseman. He was the only Dust Devil to make the squad.
Martin Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year
It’s been a great summer for Southridge High grad Mason Martin.
He was just named to the South Atlantic League (SALLY) all-star team, even though he got promoted by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Greensboro Grasshoppers to the Bradenton Maulers of the Florida State League on July 6.
Through 131 games, Martin has hit 35 home runs and driven in 129 runs between the two teams.
That was enough for Baseball America to name him the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Player of the Year.
• Kobe Singleton was approved by the Yakima Valley Interscholastic Activities Association to play football this fall for Chiawana, giving the Riverhawks another weapon.
• Whitworth was voted No. 1 in the Northwest Conference Preseason Football Coaches Poll this past week.
The Pirates have no less than 10 players on their roster from the Mid-Columbia: Kurt Blackman, Walla Walla; Alvaro Campos-Ontiveros, DeSales; Coltin Chelin, Kamiakin; Konnor den Hoed, Liberty Christian; Andrew Diddens, Sunnyside; Kyle Holler, Kamiakin; Brayden Miller, Waitsburg; Anthony Ruiz, Othello; Atticus Templeton, Kennewick; and Dhylan Worster, Kamiakin.
• Chiawana grad Summer Yates scored the Washington women’s soccer team’s first goal of the game on Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough as No. 2-ranked North Carolina rallied to beat the Huskies 3-2.
• Kamiakin grad Derrion Moore is set to start at cornerback Saturday when Eastern Washington University’s football team visits the University of Washington.
• Richland High grad Sawyer Powell started at safety Thursday night for BYU’s football team against the University of Utah. Powell had one tackle, and BYU fell to the Utes 30-12.
• Warden senior Ryan Arredondo has signed to play baseball in 2021 for Big Bend Community College. First, though, he’ll be the quarterback for the football team this fall.
• The Idaho Falls Bandits beat Fargo, N.D., 4-2 to win the AAA American Legion World Series title last week in Shelby, N.C.
It was the Bandits who eliminated the Kennewick Outlaws on the final day of the Pacific Northwest Region tournament in Lewiston.
• Hanford High grad Aaron Neary broke his ankle and foot in Los Angeles Rams training camp last week. He had successful surgery, but he’s out indefinitely.
• Five Tri-City Americans will be attending NHL training camps in the next few weeks: Mitchell Brown with the Minnesota Wild; Krystof Hrabik with the St. Louis Blues; Sasha Mutala with the Colorado Avalanche; Kyle Olson with the Buffalo Sabres; and Beck Warm with the Washington Capitals.
Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor of the Herald.