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Speed Bowl Park reopening planned for 2012

When they rebuild it, they hope many will come.

Four partners are in the process of restoring Sterling’s Speed Bowl Park and opening it for the first time since it closed in 1968. The park is located at the corner of Route 2 and McCue Road.

The partners include project initiator Mike Perrine of Sterling, Terry Adams and Bruce Tompkins of Rock Falls, and Ron Shambaugh of Morrison.

Perrine has been the owner of Mike’s Repair Service in Rock Falls the last 14 years and was the service manager at Glafka’s Tire City in Sterling for 14 years. He lives near the park property.

Tompkins is the owner of Tompkins Trucking, and Adams is the manager of the business. Shambaugh is the owner of Shammy’s Custom Trucks in Morrison.

“We’re going to have an eighth-mile lawn mower/go-kart track, two 300-foot mud bog pits, and a demo derby track,” Perrine said.

“We might have truck and tractor pulls too, but there will not be a full circle track because of insurance purposes.”

Perrine is very optimistic about the future of the park.

“It’s going to be nothing but a profiting success for Sterling and Rock Falls,” he said. “I know that. I feel that in my heart.”

Adams also feels good about the project.

“We’ve talked with people that run other parks like this in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Galesburg, and Peoria, and we’re thinking we could have 500-600 participants alone at times,” he said.

Another reason for optimism is the fact that the park has piled up over 1,400 friends on Facebook in a relatively short amount of time.

“In my wildest dreams, I did not expect the support we’ve gotten from the community,” Perrine said. “It’s been non-stop support.”

It hasn’t all been support, however.

“We have a person out there that is objecting to what we’re trying to do with the land,” Perrine said. “He’s trying to make it a wetland. The Army Corps of Engineers has taken our parking lot away. We’re trying to work with them and get this reversed.”

Due to the obstacles that have arisen, Perrine indicated that the park will likely not open until next year, though a “play date” is scheduled for July 3, when mud boggers can try the park’s pits out.

Perrine said he owes a lot of thanks to his 17-year-old daughter Samantha and her step-sister Tammy Miller. The two maintain the park’s Facebook page. Samantha is also a mud bogger and demo driver.

The park was open from 1939-1968. A tragedy brought about the end of the park.

“There was an unfortunate accident when a front A frame assembly came off and went into the grandstands and killed a spectator,” Perrine said. “That pretty much killed Speed Bowl Park.”

Perrine said the park will have “family-oriented fun.”

“We’re going to have kids classes in demo derby and go-karts,” he said. “We need something for our kids in these towns.”

Perrine said the partners have sunk “thousands of dollars” into the project. Tompkins Trucking has donated equipment.

Speed Bowl Park file

• Was originally open from 1939-1968

• Closed after accident when A frame assembly went into crowd and killed a spectator

• Partners Terry Adams, Mike Perrine, Ron Shambaugh, and Bruce Tompkins are in the process of rebuilding and reopening the park

• Plans to reopen park have met some resistance, with at least one citizen wanting the property to be a wetland. Army Corps of Engineers has limited amount of property partners can use for park, taking away land that was to be the park’s parking lot.

• “Play date” on park’s mud bog pits is scheduled for July 3

• Partners plan to reopen park in 2012

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