City celebrates Speed Week
MONROE - Most residents know the city has a long history of racing stock cars, but a proclamation from Mayor Robert Zimmerman last week made an official recognition: the last week of June before the annual Summer Showdown is now deemed “Speed Week.”
Speed Week this year was June 25-30.
Since the 1950s, local innovators have spent countless hours molding the sport to hold the prestige that it does today — what is now Monroe’s Evergreen Speedway is the only NASCAR track in Washington state.
But the “Super Speedway of the West” didn’t start out as grand. Racing in Monroe had humble beginnings.
In 1954, a handful of racing enthusiasts started using an unpaved horse track to feed their appetite for the sport, originally called the Sky Valley Speedway. Locals began turning up in droves to watch, turning it into a family-friendly activity full of picnics and social gatherings.
In the 1960s, the track was paved, and in 1967 the modest bleachers were demolished to make way for the grandstands in place today.
Some of the very youngsters who once raced the original incarnation of the track gathered at the fairgrounds Saturday, June 30 as the Monroe Historical Society saluted the Sky Valley Speedway’s original pioneers by commemorating the history of stock car racing.
The modern day track now known as the Evergreen Speedway is unique in that it has a 5/8-mile paved outer oval, a 1/8-mile dragstrip, and a figure-eight track located roughly within the 1/5-mile oval.
Married couple Traci and Doug Hobbs now operate the racetrack as High Road Promotions LLC.
The Hobbs’ won a 25-year bid to care for the track beginning in January 2011, ensuring that stock car racing won’t be leaving the state any time soon.
Evergreen Speedway is definitely bringing its flavor to Monroe with its annual June Summer Showdown event.
The event boasts the biggest purse payout in the Northwest, with an $11,000 prize awarded to the first place driver. But it’s not really about the money, said Katie McConnell, track employee.
“They do it for the thrill, not the money,” McConnell said.
Forty-seven drivers were registered for the 200-lap race; 33 qualified to race it.
The three-day event was sponsored mainly by Coors Light and kicked off with an evening celebration Thursday, June 28.