If there is anything for which Great Bend is nationally — even internationally — known, it is drag racing.
This was the site for the first-ever national drag racing championships in 1955, and those who follow the sport continue to recognize the long heritage the community has, due in great part to the continuous efforts of Sunflower Rod and Custom Association.
But keeping the local sport alive hasn’t been easy or cheap, and this past week the Great Bend City Council continued the city’s attempt to help, by returning fees the organization paid to the city in 2009 and rebating fees for 2010.
City Administrator Howard Partington explained that SRCA had paid the city $13,933.12 for its 2009 lease fees, and the city had held those aside because it was clear that work would be needed at the track in the near future.
Those fees will be returned and the 2010 fees not collected, the council agreed.
The city did the same thing for 2006 through 2008, because of the investments SRCA continues to make in the city-owned facility, including the construction of a race tower and now making repairs to the track.
The city administrator explained the financial action taken was the city staff’s suggestion. “They (SRCA) didn’t ask for this to be rebated.”
Partington explained there were damages to the track during the last 3i Show and the council’s move will help to cover the costs of repairs.
On down the road, the city administrator added, the city is going to need to consider how to fund a total resurface to the track and city staff are currently researching grants that could help with that funding.
It’s also important to make sure that if the track is used in other ways, there will be some protection that it be kept in racing shape, as a safety issue, it was noted.
Councilman Dana Dawson suggested the city develop a policy that would hold a third party responsible if there is future damage, whether that be to the track, the city auditorium, a city ball field or any other city-owned property that is used by a third party.
On the other hand, Councilman Randy Myers suggested, it’s not a good idea to cause problems that would lead the 3i Show to relocate from Great Bend, either.