Phil'n good

Despite stroke, Goodwin takes

The presidency of the Yampa Valley Auto Racing Association has been hard on those who accepted it; the organization has had three presidents in as many years, but Phil Goodwin never expected the physical toll it would take on him.

A month before the start of the racing season, Goodwin suffered a small stroke when a blood clot entered his brain.

"Actually, (the stroke) had nothing to do with being president," he said. "The main artery in my neck was 95 percent blocked and it caused the blood to clot."

Goodwin had planned to race and be president, but when the doctor told him he couldn't race until May 26, he wasn't completely disappointed.

"My first thoughts were about being able to return to work to support my family," he said. "But one of my next thoughts were if I was going to be able to race."

Three days before the first race of the season at the Hayden Speedway, Goodwin's doctor told him that he could race. The six-year racing veteran had to rush to get his car ready.

"I really didn't plan to race, because I needed to do my duties as president first," he said. "But my cousin (Brian Powers) got it going for me and I was able to race."

Goodwin was in the hunt to place in the IMCA Modified feature race until a collision with another car disabled his car.

"I was in second until I got hit," he said. "Then I finished something like eighth."

Goodwin was back in the garage this week working to be ready for Saturday's Invitational Night at the Hayden Speedway.

Improving the track

The Hayden Speedway has been improved every year some way or another by the YVARA. In the past, Goodwin was a part of the board that made the track larger. Last year, the pit and the spectator areas were expanded.

This year, Goodwin hopes to continue improving the track.

"I want to keep making it a better place to come," he said.

Improvements that already have happened are added speakers to the sound system and more seating.

Future plans include buying the athletic field lights that Hayden High School replaced this year.

"The community of Hayden is starting to get involved more," Goodwin said. "In the past, it was an agreement for us to have the track, and that was about it. This year, they are more involved, and I think they want to keep us around."

Other future improvement plans include cracking down on underage drinking and allowing no bottles for those who are of age to drink.

"We want to make it more family friendly," he said.

Racing and ruling

Last year's YVARA president, Jaceson Van Grandt, decided he wanted to focus on running the association and chose not to drive. Goodwin wants to keep doing both.

"My job as the president comes first," he said. "But I wanted to keep racing and I don't think it should interfere."

Goodwin will enter his seventh year of competing behind the steering wheel.

He said he likes the way the track and the drivers are improving.

"When I first started driving, it was a mixed bag of nice and not-so-nice guys," he said. "Now it's a lot of fun with the drivers, and there's some good camaraderie."

Even with the camaraderie, it has been hard to keep drivers on the board of the YVARA. The new board this year voted to ask each board to commit to three-year terms. The third year, a new board would shadow the experienced members to learn for the next year.

"We need some stability in our board," he said. "I hope we can do that with the suggested terms."

Special attractions

Out-of-town drivers are quick to compliment the Hayden track because of its tacky dirt and hospitable drivers. The track has been drawing drivers from Wyoming and throughout Colorado during the past few years.

"I'd like to see us draw people from the other tracks, even when there is a race that night closer to home," Goodwin said. "Because traveling costs are so high, we'll need to make it worth it for those drivers."

One out-of-town group that will be coming to the Speedway this year is the American Sprint Car Series. The ASCS leased the track for Aug. 18 and will share the night with the local IMCA Modified racers.

"Those sprint cars are doing laps at about 12 seconds," Goodwin said. "Our IMCAs get around in about 14 seconds, so they will be going fast."

In addition to the Open Wheel Madness night with ASCS, nine races remain for the summer.

"I think it's a good time for anybody," Goodwin said. "We've got tight, clean racing and there's always something fun to watch."

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