ORVILLE MOE - Gone from Spokane?

Orville Moe faces the painful reality he's out at Spokane Raceway Park

Banned from the park he helped shaped into a versatile racing facility and removed as its general manager after a sordid three-year legal fight, a bitter and beaten Orville Moe reluctantly must look ahead.

But what his next move will be is uncertain.

“We’ll get all this straightened out,” Moe insisted. “I intend to be around.”

Moe, the legendary force behind Spokane Raceway Park for three decades, was fired June 1 as the park’s GM after a judge determined the 69-year-old millionaire had disobeyed a court-appointed receiver overseeing financial operations.

Moe had given “misleading and false information” to 500 limited partners whose money helped build the facility, court-appointed receiver Barry Davidson reported in the case. Those investors, in a lawsuit that spurred Davidson’s appointment to oversee the track’s financial records, claimed they saw no return on more than $2 million in stock they bought from Moe in the 1970s. Angry investors sued Moe, alleging he “converted partnership assets” from the racetrack operation for his own profit.

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The judge’s recent ruling has changed the course of the park and Moe’s relationship with it. Moe – one of the original men behind the storied park – also was banned from the premises by a court order.

The park remains open under interim GM Jim Tice, Jr., 56, a longtime drag racing enthusiasts and businessman. The 600-acre facility supports a quarter-mile drag strip, 2.5-mile road course and half-mile asphalt oval.

The square-mile racing complex and its assets now are in the process of being appraised by a real estate firm and put up for potential sale, the return of which would be given to the limited partners.

Having lost control of the park, Moe vows to fight back legally to clear his name and seek damages, adding he has some lingering support from the racing community. He denies pocketing any money or engaging in any wrongdoing during his extensive run as GM. As a partner and manager of the track, Moe insists he has seen no return of his investment either.

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But Moe refused to acknowledge or cooperate with the court-appointed receiver to investigate his financial dealings with the track. He also refused to provide business records, bank records, deposit slips, check registers and details about ticket sales and advertising, the Davidson report said.

“I’m used to doing what’s fair is fair, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” said a defiant Moe, who controls of portion of the park as one of its original general partners, along with his estranged brothers Earl and Maynard. “I’m not used to being in a fight over all this. It just seems to me that we’ve always have been on the defense.

“But we’ll get on the offense petty soon … We have to … That’s the only way to fight these people who like to bully others,” Moe said. “What this has done has made me find out who my friends are and who my friends are not.

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“We’re still one of the major owners. We’ll be all right. We still love racing.”

The legal fight over control of the park has divided family and friends. Moe described it as “a family feud and a hostile takeover attempt,” The Spokesman-Review reported.

Moe’s nephew Troy, who helped lead the push to oust Moe, is heading a group of investors interested in buying the track.

“It’s been a very bitter legal battle,” Troy Moe said. “And I think good headway was made for the investors … they’re entitled to this and the court has seen it that way.”

If they’re successful in buying the park, Troy Moe’s group plans to retain it as a motorsports facility. He said the complex needs drastic improvements.

The Kalispel Tribe, which owns 40 acres of the park and operates a casino, also is thought to be interested in buying the park. It is unclear if the tribe intends to keep it a racing facility.

While the park’s future continues to takes shape, the elder Moe is moving forward in his work with the AHRA. As the organization’s executive vice president, Moe wants to find a new home for the World Finals, an event that was held each summer at SRP since 1974.

New track operators at SRP decided not to run the event under the World Finals name this month, opting for a successful Summer Nitro Extravaganza.

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Moe isn’t about to lose sight of the World Finals, believed to be the second-oldest drag racing event in the country. He plans to have another city hold the race in the next three or four months.

“I don’t know exactly where it will be,” he said. “The later it will be, the more south it will be.”

Moe also is looking for the AHRA to launch a six-race Pro Stock series next year, a division that would favor factory-minded followers.

“We want to return racing to its roots,” he added.

As for his relationship with SRP, Moe isn’t about to go away quietly. He intends to exhaust his legal options.

“We’re alive and doing well and we will prevail,” he said.

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