ALGER — Skagit Speedway owner Steve Beitler's connection to the racetrack began 55 years ago, cleaning up after races and selling racing magazines during a time when his father Harold was a driver.
On Monday, Beitler announced the sale of the track to an ownership group that includes two car owners and a California promoter known for his thrilling performances as a driver at Skagit Speedway.
Beitler said Fifty Five Promotions, a group that includes Mike Anderson, Kevin Rudeen and Peter Murphy, will take over operations of the track at the end of September.
"I just felt like it was time," Beitler said.
Beitler said he had previous offers for the track, including ones from groups he felt were well qualified. But he said he is especially pleased to sell to a group with local connections, sterling qualifications and a plan for the speedway's future.
"This group is unique," he said. "They have the resources to do what they want to do, they have business experience and they have passion."
Fifty Five Productions takes its name from car numbers, specifically from cars owned by Anderson and Rudeen, and one formerly raced by Murphy.
"I really appreciate what Steve Beitler has done for Skagit Speedway and the community for the last 20 years,” Rudeen said in a press release. “I am very excited to have Mike Anderson and Peter Murphy as partners and can’t wait to get going on this new endeavor. I am really looking forward to starting some new projects and promotions as well as adding to the entertainment level that has become the standard at Skagit Speedway, taking what Steve has in place and make it even bigger and better.”
Rudeen said more details will be available later, including during an announcement regarding the 2022 season and beyond to be made at the Knoxville Nationals, set to begin Aug. 11, in Knoxville, Iowa.
Beitler said he will be available as a resource over the upcoming year, and may explore consulting opportunities. Otherwise, he said, he plans to retire.
"It's time to see what else there is to do in life other than racing," he said.
Harold Beitler was among the first crop of drivers at the speedway in 1954. Steve Beitler started working small jobs at the track, the eventually moved into a career as a driver on both the regional and national levels — the latter with the World of Outlaws — before retiring.
He and partner Jim Cress purchased the speedway in 2001 and saw the growth of events such as the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup and the return of visits by the touring World of Outlaws circuit. Beitler was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2018.