Champion Raceway drag strip will have a new operator this summer

The sole respondent to Jackson County's request for proposal for managing the Champion Raceway drag strip has been approved for a contract through at least November.

K&M Motorsports owner Kirk Hobson will take over management responsibilities at the track for this summer.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved the agreement Wednesday.

Previous drag strip manager Bob Lidell, who also owns Redding Drag Strip, decided not to renew his contract, which was effective April 4 through Oct. 31, 2012. Jackson County Roads & Parks Director John Vial said he was pleased with Lidell's performance and would have renewed the contract if Lidell was interested.

"He just got tired of driving up and down I-5," Vial said.

Hobson will pay $2,000 to Jackson County annually for rent, and will be required to make at least $8,000 worth of capital improvements to the drag strip each year. This is a different arrangement than the one with Lidell, who agreed to share a percentage of profits — anywhere from 5 to 10 percent — with the county based on how much the operation made.

Jim Taylor, the drag strip's operator before Lidell, claimed last year the county had been unwilling to invest in track maintenance so he pulled out equipment before the season's start. Taylor's agreement instructed him to pay $1 a year to the county and make $10,000 in capital improvements annually. The county found Taylor had violated his lease, so it purchased vital equipment at the strip, including lights, timers, sensors, readouts and emergency nets.

— Ryan Pfeil

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