There was always hope for Thomas Harold Carn that one day he could be more involved in auto racing in Utah than the mere stepping on the accelerator and spinning of his wheels.
This goes back to the days when there were no race tracks in Utah; back when Carn was more interested in the three Rs than RPM.Well, now he is involved. Deeply. Last month he became the official new owner of Utah's largest racing facility - Bonneville Raceway Park in West Valley.
The sale was finalized between Carn and the Haynes family last month, and official transfer will take place in January. From now on, racing at Bonneville will fall under Carn's direction . . . as he'd always wished.
The Salt Lake motel-owner recalled that he first thought of building a race track in Utah back when there wasn't one.
"Then when Dick (Godfrey) built
the first drag racing strip I figured `That's it,' and I didn't think I would every get the opportunity.
"But I followed racing. I even raced at Bonneville (an Oldsmobile 442 and later a Pontiac GTO) for four years. I remember they had a major NHRA race there. I entered and ended up losing in the finals. I was getting ready to go home when someone suggested that maybe I'd won money. It ended up I did, $25. That was exciting for me."
He recalled, too, being so interested in racing that at one time he was going to the oval races at the old Fairgounds, then leaving when the races ended and driving out to Bonneville "to pick up the last races there. They usually ran a little longer."
Later, when his son, Dan, became interested in moto cross, he shifted most of his attention there, but always kept time out to attend drag and oval races at the track.
Four years ago, as the drag racing seasons was finishing up, he heard the announcer say that it was likely he was attending the final race at the track. The lease had been lost and the future was in doubt.
"I made contact with the owners then and made an offer, but they said no. Then six months ago they contacted me and asked if I was still interested. I was and that started it all," he said.
"And since I bought the track, I've had a lot of people ask if I was going to make a lot of changes. The answer is no. I want to support the drivers and I want to give the fans whatever it is they want to see. What races people support, then that's what we'll run. If they'll come out and support moto cross, then we'll run moto cross again." (Motocross racing was dropped last year.)
What he foresees is holding oval track races most every Saturday, mixing in during the summer four major drag races. Also, he plans to stay with the Friday grudge (drag) races, the sports bike races, and the mud and sand races.
The changes fans will notice, he continued, will be in the overall appearance of the track. The drag strip was resurfaced two years ago and the oval track this past July . . .
"So those parts of the track look pretty good. My attention, right now, will be in getting the bleachers fixed up and in painting . . . just improving the overall appearance of the track."
He views his new role in Utah auto racing with guarded optimism.
"Now that it's done, I find it's a big responsibility. But I'm excited . . . It's something I've always wanted to do," he said.
And now he will.