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Park has heard the attacks from the race community. He says nobody had a bigger emotional and financial investment in KCIR than he did.
"I've spent more hours there, I've got more blood, sweat and tears there than you can ever even think about imagining," he says.
Park says his plan just didn't work out. "I didn't necessarily want to leave the place that's been my home for 32 years. But sometimes you have to do that."
A faction within the racing community remains unconvinced that Park wanted to save the raceway. They cite uncorrected code violations at the track, Park's silence during the negotiations and his decision not to release the letter about condemnation proceedings until the deal was nearly completed. They contend that Park had only his own interests at heart. They say the sale is particularly painful because Park also serves as director of the National Hot Rod Association's West Central Division.
"It's a devastating deal, because we thought we were in hog heaven with him owning the track," says Mike Colvin, who has been racing at the track since the 1970s.
Selling the city's only drag strip runs contrary to Park's work with the NHRA, where he's charged with growing the sport. (The NHRA did not respond to a request for comment.)
Several sources told The Pitch that a couple of local racers wanted to buy the track from Park.
"Why didn't he contact other racers to make a deal on this rather than sell it out to the city?" Colvin asks.
Park says he did try to find buyers and called dozens of people in an effort to find a pro-KCIR buyer. But he couldn't find one willing to pony up the cash.
"All these people that say they wanted to, nobody made a legitimate offer," a frustrated Park tells The Pitch.
"People talk a lot," Park adds. "But when it comes down to writing checks, very few people will do that."
Park says the lone winner in the deal is the city.
"Everybody thinks we made a bunch of money. I can assure you that's not much money to the people that I'm involved with. It's just not," he says. "People have the wrong impression."
In the weeks after the City Hall rally, support for Park eroded. Several bitter comments have been left on the "Save KCIR" Facebook page.
"We were definitely used," one fan wrote.
"They will have to carry the fact they sold so many out," another wrote. "In time they will have deep, deep regrets when inflation catches up to their thirty pieces of silver. The problem is we were never addressed to the facts and it appears we were just used to bump the price from $1.1 million to $1.55 million. That's betrayal."
The fact that the track is gone is beginning to set in with racers. When drag racer Tim White talks about Park and the track's sale, his voice veers from sad to angry to confused within a few sentences.
White warmly recalls his first run at KCIR. It was 1977. White and his brother drove his Harley-Davidson Sportster to the track. On a whim, White entered a race — and won. On the ride home, he clung to his 3-foot trophy. He was hooked and bought an Austin Bantam dragster with his brother.
"I tested that car at every stoplight," he remembers.
It paid off with plenty of wins at KCIR.
"They hated us down there," White says, beaming.
Now he's on his 11th, and last, dragster. White says driving to strips in Topeka or to the one that broke ground this fall in Montgomery City (between Columbia and St. Louis) isn't an option because of the distance and the price of gas. He's giving up his hobby, in which he has invested about $60,000, he estimates.