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New leadership at S.O. Speedway

WHITE CITY — John Skinner was ready for a change. Chuck Prather Jr. and Joe Doellefeld saw an opportunity.

Prather Jr., who is the son of the owner of Coos Bay Speedway, recently took over operations at Southern Oregon Speedway, adopting a business that has lately struggled to turn a profit. Doellefeld, an award-winning race promoter who has been in the business for 34 years, will assist Prather Jr. as a consultant and mentor, he said.

Skinner, the owner of the track and its former promoter, said he made the move so that he could concentrate on his other businesses.

A deal between Skinner, Prather Racing and Doellefeld was formalized in February.

The 2013 season kicks off on Saturday. Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 6 p.m. for all events.

One of the most anticipated appearances will be from the World Of Outlaws on Sept. 5, Doellefeld said.

"That tour will bring in huge numbers," he said.

Other special shows include the ASCS 360 Sprint Car Tour stop on July 1, the annual two-day Lon Skinner Memorial beginning Aug. 31 and the Firecracker 50 on July 3, which will also include a fireworks show.

Modifieds, street stocks, pro mod, dwarf, mini stock and Super 4 racing will be entertainment staples. Four-cylinder "Hornet" cars will also be introduced.

The season wraps up Oct. 13.

Skinner said that many local racing fans work in the construction industry and that when the housing market began suffering around 2007 or 2008, the speedway — which was built in the mid 1990s for a cost of around $1.8 million — was hurt financially. It lost money in 2012, Skinner said.

Doellefeld said he and the new leadership are determined to turn things around. Soon after taking over, Doellefeld said he and Prather Jr. began cleaning and painting facilities and fixing equipment at the track. They also created an "aggressive marketing campaign" that includes more advertising, Doellefeld said.

"The numbers will grow exponentially," said Doellefeld, who owned State Line Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho, with brother Walt Doellefeld for 23 years before recently selling to Competitive Edge LLC. The Doellefelds were named National Promoters of the Year in 2009 by Racing Promoters Monthly. "Our shows need to be fan friendly and we've got to have well-timed shows that start at the right time and end at the right time."

For a complete schedule of events and more information, visit sospeedway.com, call 541-826-6825 or email sospeedway@yahoo.com.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com