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NickHolt

SAR gets new owner, Bill Cravens, and new name, San Antonio International Speedway, 11-13-88

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16 hours ago, RodneyRodriguez said:

So Prof, as new owner what did Cravens buy, the lease? lol

Well, as we all discovered a bit further down the road, apparently Cravens was the "front man" for the true owner of the San Antonio lease, Frank Howell.  To many of us, this was Frank's way of staying out of the line of fire since his son and son-in-law were competitive drivers at the track.  While I never heard Frank openly admit that he asked his vice-president at Howell Crane and Rigging to claim to the the new owner to deflect whatever criticism that might come his way - such as claims of nepotism that eventually were leveled at him - but I'm fairly certain he realized that many folks in the stock car racing world find it difficult to believe that a track owner could be fair and impartial when your immediate family is competing at your track.

Cravens faded into the background some time after former Pan American Speedway owner and promoter Ricci Ware, Sr, was hired by Howell to be the track's General Manager.  And when Ricci left the position after his son Ricci Ware, Jr, was seriously injured in a horrendous racing wreck at the track, Frank's ownership role became very apparent in spite of his appointing his daughter, Cindy Howell Oates (at the time married to Jason Oates) to a management position at the track.

And the history of the Highway 16 lease agreement is a story all unto itself. The original lease was legally non-transferable (at least that's my understanding from several of the original lease-holders) from the original set of 20-something lease holders headed by Don Beirshwale, but over the years that lease got sold, re-sold, dumped, picked up, re-negotiated and who knows what else.  The last lease holder we know about was Terry Dickerson and even the legality of that lease was in question. It would take the Supreme Court and the United Nations to figure out who legitimately holds that lease. 

NIck

 

 

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Bill Cravens, obviously speaking for the true track owner, Frank Howell,  made a promise that would bite the track where it hurts:  I quote from the article:   " ... once the rules are given out in black-and-white, they will remain in effect for at least two years, right or wrong ... this will give a guy a chance to build a car and run it a couple years without having to make major modifications."  

It wasn't but a few months later that major changes were announced to the new Open Wheel Modified class and several guys building cars for that class got stuck with half-built cars that were suddenly illegal with the stroke of a rules-maker's pen.  

This did not sit weil with many and once everyone figured out that Frank Howell was indeed the true track owner, several teams threw fits since  Frank's son, Audie Howell, and Frank's son-in-law, Jason Oates, were both slated to run in the top division.  Cries of nepotism and charges of playing favorites were frequently  heard for several months - and for several years to varying degrees.  

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