The sole respondent to Jackson County's request seeking managers for the Champion Raceway dragstrip has been awarded a contract through at least November.
K&M Motorsports owner Kirk Hobson of Medford will take over management responsibilities at the track for the summer. The track is in the Jackson County Sports Park off Highway 140.
Jackson County commissioners approved the agreement Wednesday.
Previous drag strip manager Bob Lidell, who also owns Redding Dragstrip, decided not to renew his contract, which was effective April 4 through Oct. 31, 2012.
Jackson County Roads and Parks Director John Vial said he was pleased with Lidell's performance and would have renewed the contract if Lidell had been 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 — from 5 percent to 10 percent — with the county based on how much the operation made.
Hobson, 43, was born and raised in Seattle and said he grew up on the drag strip.
"I've been going to the track since I was 8 years old," Hobson said. "I just kind of grew up with it."
Hobson and his fiancée, Michelle Husel, will operate the track together. Previously, Hobson worked in construction and building maintenance. He moved to Medford in 2011.
Hobson said he wants to bring back more Friday night racing at the facility and make the atmosphere more family-oriented. He said he hopes to improve the bathrooms, work on the return road, do some work around the tower, put in new fencing and do some repairs on the grandstands.
"Just clean up the facility a lot," Hobson said.
A season opener is scheduled for early May, and Hobson said sponsors already have started calling. He added he's confident in his ability to manage the strip. "I have such good people backing me and behind me working on this. It'd be really hard to fail.
"I've had a tremendous amount of community support," he said.
Jim Taylor, the drag strip's operator before Lidell and Hobson, 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.
The county purchased lights, timers, sensors, readouts and emergency nets for the drag strip at a cost of $35,000.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.