Three years ago there were six racecars in the pits and 10 spectators in the stands at Reno-Fernley Raceway.
Not knowing what would happen by keeping the gates open, owner Rich Cable and operations manager Chris Coclich have since built a multi-track facility that now sees an average of 75 cars racing in five series each Saturday night.
Inspiration and the idea of having a place to play led Cable to call his track, "Racing's Field of Dreams." Since building it, they have come.
The 570-acre facility has a large 3/8-mile dirt oval, motocross, tiered pit parking, the "Fourth Turn Patio" area, RV parking lot, an area for private parties, a stage for live bands, grandstand seating, lounge chair seating and areas of tiered spectator parking for those who prefer to watch the races from the comfort of their vehicle.
The overall area of Cable's property is 3,000 acres, which gives him plenty of room to expand the desert playground. There are no sound restrictions or curfews.
A 2 1/2-mile road course has been mapped out, marked and graded. Cable expects the paving to be complete by the end of the year. He has had several talks with SCCA, INEX and NASA for potential races.
"After the road course is done, we'll look at the feasibility of the 1/2-mile paved oval," said Cable. "That will be in a couple of years."
Touring the facility, Coclich said as soon as the road course is completed, work will continue on the outdoor concert amphitheater, RV parking and tailgate areas. The RV lots will accommodate about 500 RVs.
"The concert area will seat 3,000 at first," said Coclich. "We could go up to 10,000 seats. Next year we will add seating for 2,000 in bleacher style seating to the track spectator areas. There are also 12-14 fire pits available for the fans when the weather gets too cool at night. All of this work will be done in phases."
More retaining walls in the pit area will be added, as will VIP towers on either side of the scoring tower on the west side of the track. The announcer's tower is on the east side.
"The scorers, there are four of them, said it's kinda hard to keep track of the cars with an announcer booming in their ears," said Coclich. " It's very distracting, so we moved him to the back stretch of the track."
The various series racing at the track include IMCA modifieds, hobby stocks, street stocks, pure stock minis and modified minis. Legends and 360 winged sprints also race on occasion.
Cable and Coclich are preparing for their first-ever High Desert Shoot Out race, scheduled for Oct. 6-7. Heat races and trophy dashes are held Saturday, all main events are on Sunday. About $20,000 in purse money will be awarded.
"This is a racer's racetrack," said Coclich. "It's wide and fast. The drivers go 4-wide in the turns, and turns 3-4 are different than 1-2."
Coclich is also director of competition. His technical inspector is Jay Reynolds, head scorer is Judy Cable, plus there is the safety crew, and Don "Woody" Wood is the facility's caretaker.
"All of our safety crew are on quads," Cable said.
"This gives us quicker response. And, in the three seasons we've been open, no one has been sent to the hospital Ñ knock on wood. We've had a sprained wrist, bruises and cuts, but nothing serious. We're very proud of that. Our safety crews are real good and we make safety our priority."
Coclich said all the work being done at the track is by him, Cable and a few others. They have their own equipment and do upgrades and modifications as time allows.
"We're doing a little at a time as money allows. It's all grunt labor," joked Coclich.
"We're also working on sponsorship to help with the development of the facility. This year we've added the Reno Hilton, Coke and Coors."
Coclich said he also makes it a point to walk the pits each week to try to say 'hi' to each of the drivers.
"The guys really like that. It's my way of having a relaxed atmosphere. We can laugh, joke and have a good time. And when racing's over, we hang out and drink beer. That's a good reason we tell them to hang out and stay over. We don't want anyone getting hurt or stopped when they leave. One guy from Truckee pitches a tent in his pit every Saturday night."
The raceway ends its season this Saturday, with several divisions having a close battle in the points race. Competing for the title in the Hobby Stock class are Blake Ramthun of Carson City and Eddie Levan of Fernley; in the Street Stock are Matt Ramthun and Dean Cichowicz, both of Carson City; in the IMCA modifieds are Robert Miller of Gardnerville and Scotty Slatter of Pahrumph; for the Modified Minis are Shawn Natenstedt of Fernley and Stephen Crook of Reno and in the Pure Stock Minis is Doug Hast of Reno.
Each of the division champions will receive a new, tandem-axle trailer. The overall points winner of those divisions will receive an Interstate 1 21-foot enclosed trailer.
IF YOU GO:
What: Points championship
Where: Reno-Fernley Raceway, Highway 95A, 5 minutes south of Fernley
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29
Info: (775) 575-7217
What: High Desert Shoot Out
When: Oct. 6-7 (Saturday 5 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.; spectator gates open at 2 and noon, respectively)