ELMA — The track was ready. The rain came down. The cars never left their trailers.
For the first time since 2010, the weather dictated the agenda at Grays Harbor Raceway and washed out the yearly visit of the World of Outlaws sprint car series on Monday afternoon.
Raceway and Outlaws officials made the call at 6:30 p.m. to cancel the racing. The series will head south to Lebanon, Ore. to run at Willamette Speedway on Wednesday.
“I’m hugely disappointed,” Grays Harbor Raceway promoter Steve Beitler said. “The staff has worked hard for several weeks to prepare the track. The track was in great shape. This is our biggest race, the Granddaddy event. There are a lot of people who saved up to see the races here. To see it washed out and have no racing, it is a huge disappointment. We’ve done everything possible to get the races in.”
For longstanding sprint car fans, Monday’s rainout was vaguely familiar to the two-year rain period in 2009-10 that sent the national sprint tour packing for track to the south. None of the series regulars, like three-time defending Outlaw track champion Donny Schatz, took a turn around the three-eights of a mile clay oval in anger or for fun.
However, both Beitler and World of Outlaws President Tom Deery noted that the series will return to Elma in 2017. Beitler noted that the track’s place on the Outlaws’ 2017 calendar was finalized this weekend.
“These two (Washington state) dates — here and Skagit Speedway — they are cornerstone stops on our schedule; we can’t wait to get back here,” Deery said. “Everyone has a smart phone and we’re all smart people. Honestly, even the most optimistic person sometimes has to say that it isn’t going to happen. We know that we’ve had some great weather here and some great events. We’re looking forward to more of them in the future.”
Twenty cars were scheduled to run on Monday in a compacted schedule to get the racing in either between the rain or before it hit later that night. Eleven local and regional street stock drivers also showed up as the supporting class.
Burlington’s Jason Solwold took the main-event feature on Sunday night, winning the Summer Thunder Sprint Series race over a talented field of drivers. Redmond, Ore’s Mark Carrell won the modified feature race.
Solwold inherited the lead from Quilcene’s J.J. Hickle when Hickle spun out while leading the first six laps of the 25-lap feature race. Solwold never relinquished the lead, holding off several drivers for the victory.
Travis Rilat, of Forney, Texas, and Enumclaw’s Henry VanDam earned top-five finishes on Sunday. The duo, along with Solwold and Trey Starks, were among the 20 ready to roll on Monday night.
Carrell came from deep within the pack to claim the modified feature win. Aberdeen’s Zack Simpson led through the first eight laps before Carrell made the pass out of turn four on the eighth lap for the lead.
From there, Carrell stayed away from trouble for the victory.
The track’s 2016 season is in its final laps. Racing will return on Sept. 17 with the modifieds, street stocks, Northwest Focus Midgets and tuners. The championship night is scheduled for Oct. 1 for the team’s five divisions.