YUMA, Ariz. – It took until nearly the end of December for Canyon Speedway Park to find a new promoter, but the track will be in action this season with Dave and Penny Craft at the helm.
The Crafts live just 25 minutes from the desert oval that is managed by Doug Gabbard, who will operate the complex while the Craft family run the oval for the next two years.
The reason for just two years is that Gabbard has two years left on his current 10 year lease of the property. The Crafts are taking over the track while Gabbard still owns the lease.
Dave Craft is a project manager for Swisslog Logistics in Virginia and his wife is a full partner in the promotional duties. Dave Craft credits his wife with handling the social media aspect of their ventures, something he knows is important and has no time himself to address.
There won’t be much time to get ready as in about three weeks the Winter Challenge will be held during two consecutive weekends at Canyon, with practice on Friday, followed by Saturday and Sunday afternoon racing.
While one might think that new promoters would be overwhelmed at the idea of preparing the track in such a short time, the Crafts are not new to the race track game.
Dave Craft moved to Arizona when he was 20 to chase a racing career, picking the Grand Canyon state due to climate and the diversity of racing in the state. He ran a modified throughout Arizona and, in his words, “I did that for way too long.” He eventually got married, had kids and became a promoter.
“It was 2019 when I went to help a racing friend who had always helped me, and he was located in Nebraska,” Dave Craft said. “When I was there they were talking about the track in North Platte closing. Our family talked it over and I can work remotely, so we threw our names in the hat and we were able to win the promoter lease agreement.”
The Crafts were back in Arizona when they heard that Doug was looking for some help at Canyon. An agreement was reached and Canyon will continue racing with Nebraska promoters, at least part time in the Midwest.
“My heavy racing in Nebraska is May through August and here in the valley it is September through March. My wife and a son are full-time with this,” Doug Craft said. “I want to build a key core of racing events that people will put on their calendar.”
The new promotional team is heading into a very busy year, but the enthusiasm for racing and with enough experience to understand what needs to be done, Canyon Speedway Park will join Lincoln County Speedway in the Craft portfolio.