It was a small black cloud, but a cloud nonetheless, hanging over the Hayden Speedway.
Confusion and caution flags flew at the Aug. 5 racing series. Now, after a review of the actions of a local driver, that aura of uncertainty has started to lift.
Race officials are preparing for another night of racing Friday, a night they hope is more polished than what transpired Aug. 5.
After double checking with drivers about what happened during a Super Street Stock Class race, the Hayden Speedway board of directors has taken action against driver Dean Dare, who was black-flagged for violating the track's code of conduct by jumping the gun twice and taking three laps to leave the track.
Dare has been fined and suspended for the final two races of the season. The board notified Dare of its ruling via a letter sent this week.
The board's action was warranted due to continued issues involving Dare, who had been in trouble with race officials earlier this season, said Matt Beckett, public relations director for the Hayden Speedway.
"He isn't the first driver to have issues," Beckett said. "There are others who are no longer out there. It got close to the point where there was a legitimate safety issue."
On Wednesday, Dare explained his side of the Aug. 5 events that led to his suspension. He said he is petitioning the board for reinstatement.
"When you start a race, they wave the green flag," Dare said. "I was ready to go and apparently they weren't. The first time I jumped the start, I didn't realize the flag was for me. They unrolled the flag and waved it and I went off the track. I have appealed the suspension and am supposed to hear from the board later this week."
Dare declined to comment on the circumstances causing his second false start.
Racing rival Samantha Johnston said Dare's suspension puts a sour note on the end of the racing season.
"Fans come to see a race and should be able to enjoy it," Johnston said. "When politics on the track get involved, you really lose the spirit of racing."
Johnston, who competes in the same class as Dare, was disappointed in how the season is going to come to a close.
"In my mind, racing should be fun and competitive," Johnston said. "I like my shot against Dean every race."
A light in the darkness
While off-the-track issues muddied racing news this week, Speedway officials are hoping for some good news from the Rocky Mountain Invitational American Sprint Car Series, which comes to town Friday. The series is considering making the Speedway a routine venue.
"They (ASCS organizers) are running Hayden as a test track this weekend," Beckett said. "If there is enough fan interest, they may start running a regular schedule here."
That schedule could be just what the Hayden track needs to bring in larger crowds and more drivers.
"We need to put up more bleachers for fans," Beckett said. "Because they sit so far away it takes them out of it."
Beckett is looking to the future of the Speedway and is hoping to get more feature shows in the lineup.
"Hopefully having the ASCS run will help get the word out and allow us to bring in more shows," Beckett said.
Jim Starr and Simon Sez companies will present the ASCS sprint cars Friday. It usually costs a track $10,000 for an ASCS sprint car appearance.
The Hayden Speedway has been fortunate in securing the cars to run with minimal expense.
"The first time you do this, there's always some expenditure," Beckett said. "But it really helps the local businesses, and if the promoters make over $10,000,
20 percent of the overage goes to the Hayden Speedway."
The races will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with all classes running.