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Last Smokin' Wheels?

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Smokin' Wheels at the Guam Race Track is right around the corner, and so is the military buildup, which threatens the Guam International Raceway Park where the event is held. Here's more on what could be the very last Smokin' Wheels.

You name it, he's probably raced it. "I've been going to Smokin' Wheels since the very first one," said Bob Bucek. In his more than 20-year racing career, Bucek has held many champion titles, but the biggest fight he and other racers face is losing the Guam International Raceway Park to the military buildup. "I don't feel very good about it," he added.

After three decades, this weekend's Smokin' Wheels event is significant, in that it may be the last one. According to Bucek and park owner Henry Simpson if that happens that could crash the sport all together, and have drivers heading down a very dangerous road.

"I think the track has saved a lot of lives kept a lot of people off of the streets stopped illegal drag racing stopped a lot of people trespassing on other people's property with motorcycles," noted Simpson, with Bucek adding, "It pretty much would snuff it out. We'd probably start riding around illegally head back toward Dandan, which is now becoming a dump."

The military has eyed the land along the Route 15 area at Pagat and where the race track sits for several years to be used as training ranges for the Marines. And with a programmatic agreement now signed it seems only a lawsuit against the Department of Defense could slam the brakes on their plans.

We Are Guahan is party to the litigation filed against the DoD. Member Melvin Won Pat Borja says it's not just the racers who will feel the burn if the land the track sits on its taken over by the military. "Everyone from activists to archeologists and the environmentalists and our racers and event the people the private landowner who live in that area are all affected by it," he told KUAM News.

As for Bucek, who spends almost every day at the track, the thought of this being the last Smokin' Wheels is agonizing. "It hurts me to think all this time and effort has gone in and money local money everybody's money its not just me there's a lot of families out there, this is our home and to lose it would really, really suck," he said.

Smokin' Wheels is this weekend at the Raceway Park in Yigo.

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