Town: Racers must be ready

Proof of insurance will be required this summer

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— Last summer, the Yampa Valley Racing Association held one car race at a town-owned track without insurance.

Knowing that, town officials say that races this summer will be canceled if the association is unable to show proof of insurance prior to an event.

"If there is an accident or death during a race that is not insured, it is not the racing association they are going to go after," said Rob Straebel, town manager. "They are going to go after the ones with the deep pockets. They would come after the town."

For at least 20 years, the racing association has held car races at the town-owned track miles south of Hayden.

The insurance issue is just one situation town officials are concerned of regarding the association's use of the track. Other concerns are gate receipts and a delinquent water bill.

In 1995, the racing association entered a 10-year lease agreement with the town to use the track. Under the agreement, the association is to obtain $1 million in insurance coverage for personal injury.

Last year, the association scheduled a total of eight races. Five were completed, two were rained out and one was partially completed.

As town officials recently wrapped up their work on the association's use of the track for last summer, they were able to verify that insurance had been purchased by the association for four races.

"That threw up a red flag immediately," Straebel said. "We don't want races to proceed without insurance."

Lonnie Streeter, an official with the racing association, recently admitted to town officials that one race last summer was held without insurance.

Streeter said the lack of insurance for the race was because a racing official who normally handles the insurance payment was not available.

How the association provides proof about insurance in the upcoming summer has yet to be determined.

For insurance, the racing association pays a Missouri company, North American Racing Insurance, $800 on a race-by-race basis, Streeter said.

With a tight budget, the association usually will mail the payment to the insurance company in the final days leading up to the weekend race, Streeter said. According to the policy, the insurance company must receive a letter postmarked 24 hours prior to the race for the coverage to kick in.

Streeter said the association is willing to work with the town once its new board of directors is elected in the next couple of weeks. Once those members are on board, the association can work out a way to show proof to town officials a race is insured prior to the event.

Town officials also are concerned about gate receipts and a delinquent water bill.

Under a lease agreement, which expires in 2005, the town is to receive 9 percent of gross gate receipts from each race the association sponsors.

Town Clerk Lisa Johnston has received gate receipts for four races from the association. Historically, the town uses that money to make improvements at the race track.

Association officials plan to go back through their records to determine if they sent all the payments to the town they should have.

The association also owes the town $245 for an outstanding water bill. To clear up that matter, the town has agreed to allow the association to pay the bill after the first race this summer as long as it pays the town $50 now.

"We thought we were paid up," Streeter said. "We changed our post office box and didn't get the water bill."

Straebel is optimistic town officials and members of the racing association can meet soon to address the insurance and gate receipt issues.

"Hopefully, we can get this resolved in the next couple of months," he said.

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