Last weekend I met up with Rick Beebe in the pits at Lakeside Speedway. Rick asked what I was doing out of uniform, I explained the people running the track have refused to return emails and I would have to guess they did not desire my services. I explained how they tried to get Diana and I removed from our many years of service to Lakeside, last year. Rick made one statement which has resonated all week with me, “at least the racetrack is open” and I have heard that from numerous other racers. We have two people to thank for the racetrack being open, not once but twice, they have managed by their actions to allow the racers to race and the fans to enjoy the facility. Let’s take a quick history lesson.
On October 25, 2012, then Lakeside Speedway owner Marc Olson called three people to inform them the racetrack was for sale. The first person called was Mike Knight, followed by J.D. Green, and then Marc called Mike Johnson. Marc announced we could tell everyone the track was for sale he would not be opening it in 2013.
On October 27, 2012 the Central Auto Racing Boosters held an auction at Lakeside Speedway in support of the C.A.R.B. Museum, I was the auctioneer. That afternoon Diana and I left for Hawaii. During our layover in Los Angeles en route to Honolulu I talked with Mike Knight. Tim Karrick calls on October 30, 2012 to confirm what he had just heard, that Lakeside Speedway was for sale. That same day, while still in Hawaii, Mike Johnson called advising Marc Olson had called him about Lakeside being for sale. Mind you the Johnsons and Greens had not been talking due to an elaborate plan hatched and implemented by someone who likes to follow in my footsteps. What this person did not count on was Lakeside becoming available for sale and the communication door reopening between the Greens and the Johnsons.
Upon our return from Hawaii we met with the Johnsons. Mike and Kyle expressed interest in purchasing the track. We offered our help. It was probably quite a surprise to everyone to see us together at the Lucas Oil MLRA banquet in late November. Rumors were flying about who was buying the track. One faction had Johnson purchasing the track, another faction was calling Clint Bowyer hoping he would buy the track. The C.A.R.B. Banquet was quite interesting as the sale of Lakeside was the topic on almost everyone’s mind.
On December 11, 2012 a meeting occurred between Mike Johnson, Don Marrs, and Marc Olson. By the time the meeting was completed an agreement to purchase was hammered out. Johnson and Marrs were purchasing the track from Olson, I was asked to write a press release which had to be approved by Olson. The press release went out on December 12, 2012. January 11, 2013 Olson gives the proposed new owners the right to release a schedule. On January 22, 2013 at Johnson’s kitchen table Mike Johnson and Don Marrs meet with Terry Wantland and myself and explain they are in favor of slowing the show down. Additionally, Don Marrs states he just wants to be a racer and Mike Johnson would be managing the track. On January 26, 2013 an officials meeting is held at Johnson’s barn where J D Green introduces the new owners. Don Marrs speaks up and states Mike Johnson would be running the track and he was just a racer. February 2, 2013 a drivers meeting is held at the KCI Marriott over 160 people are in attendance, again Don Marrs speaks up that he is just a racer and Mike Johnson would be running the track. He even stated Mike is experienced in this area having owned I-35 Speedway since 2008.
Closing on the sale occurred on March 12, 2013, a mere two months and a day after the agreement was reached.
The Johnsons are the couple responsible for giving the racers a track to compete on in 2013. If not for Mike and Kyle Johnson, this track would not have opened in 2013, a track they tried to purchase in 2008. The Johnsons, being the leaders they are, took the action to meet with the Marrs, then meet with Marc Olson, then work out a deal, then obtain financing and finally to ensure there was a 2013 Lakeside Speedway season.
At the end of the 2013 season one of the bad apples in the partnership began questioning everything, complaining about everything, hiring an attorney as the mouthpiece instead of communicating through normal means, i.e. in person or via telephone. Turns out this person’s history indicates an attorney is needed quite often (33 times in Johnsons County Courts). All the questions and concerns were addressed only to have more questions come up or the same questions be asked again after they were answered.
Sides were established. Eventually the attorneys on both sides worked out an agreement where meetings were to be held monthly and communication was to occur. Mike Johnson came up with the idea that Pete Howey and Kyle Johnson or representatives from each side would count the money each night. This occurred each race night in 2014. The only problem with this meeting resolution was one set of partners quit coming to the meetings.
Knowing the partnership was not working and to ensure the racers had a place to race the Johnson’s made the first offer to buy out their partners this past winter. Every offer the Johnsons made their partners would reply back with the same offer. At the first of December the Johnsons decided the best option to ensure racing would continue at Lakeside Speedway in 2015 would be to accept the latest counter offer. The Johnsons agreed to take their partners offer and the partners had one requirement, to prove their commitment by the end of the month by obtaining financing. This agreement would ensure Lakeside Speedway would stay open and the racers would have a place to race.
Now if you have followed this story this far you know the rest, the partners filed a lawsuit against the Johnsons’ in January. Yes it does not make sense to file a lawsuit after making an agreement, unless you are trying to hide something or have ulterior motives (like buying time to obtain the financing). This lawsuit could have kept Lakeside Speedway tied up in courts for months or even years.
Topeka based media jumped all over the lawsuit and spread it because they are into sensationalism. Notice Kansas City media never even mentioned it. Most recently Fox 4 has been advertising they cover both sides of the issue, wouldn’t that be nice if all media would do the same. Too many times allegations are assumed to be true but just in case you have not seen this before when you assume you make an ass u me.
Anyway, the lawsuit is just superfluous stuff as another meeting occurred and a deal was made, again, for the Johnsons’ to sell their half of Lakeside to their partners. Funny thing is the agreement reached in February is the same deal reached in December, same money, same time constraints, etc. Unlike 2013 when it only took two months and one day to close on the deal, the 2015 deal is still awaiting closure, the partners continue to ask for closing extensions. Whether you consider the first of December the deal or mid-February the deal this business transaction is taking quite a bit of time.
Just like in 2013 when the Johnsons’ led the way to purchase the track from Olson to ensure the track would be open, in 2015 the Johnsons are again leading the way by agreeing to sell their half to ensure the track would remain open and not tied up in court. Twice in the last three years the Johnsons’ can be attributed to saving Lakeside Speedway. As Rick Beebe stated, “at least the racetrack is open”! Thank you Mike and Kyle!