Dirt Track Racers
If the need for speed in your outdoor recreation is something you live for, there’s a special way to find it at the Banks Sunset Speedway, where “dirt track racing” gets the green flag.
Each Saturday night, there’s music in the air where flood lights glimmer and flags fly over the hundreds who gather at the Banks Sunset Speedway. But here in the Washington County countryside, the music isn’t a guitar performance - it’s the sound of a dozen engines that growl and roar and whine as stock car drivers jostle their cars for position and a green flag start.
The Banks Sunset Speedway has hosted dirt track racing for nearly 25 years. It’s one of many Oregon speedways that are scattered across the state and draw a dedicated crowd to watch dirt track racing each summer.
“You’re going to get dirty, it’s going to be noisy and it’s a whole lot of fun,” notes Banks Speedway announcer, Charlie Weaver. “We try to put on a good show for everyone and entertain them for three or four hours a night. We do put some dirt in their hair.”
The brother-and-sister team of Joey and Andrea Tardio compete in different divisions and varied stock car events, but each race several times on a typical Saturday night. They’ve also both taken first place many times.
Andrea said that she has learned many lessons by watching her older brother on the racetrack. “He’s just as competitive as me as he swerves back and forth to get around other cars. I actually watch him closely to see how he puts the car in the corners, how he passes people and where he is coming down the stretch. I learn something new each time he races.” Andrea’s goal is to win the Women’s Stock Car Division – so far this summer she is on track with multiple first-place wins under her belt.
She added that the exhilaration that comes with racing at high speed on an uneven dirt track is unlike anything she’s ever experienced. “It’s powerful and a whole of a lot of fun. Sure it’s dirty, but that’s part of being outdoors, right? It’s great to hold that trophy at the end of a race and say, “I beat people this time!”
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.