Remembering Bill New
Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com
The Treasure Valley lost a pioneer in the sport of drag racing this week, and a big part of the community.
Bill New, who started Firebird Raceway, died Tuesday.
On Your Side had a chance to talk to Bill a few years back about his love for racing that he passed on to his family.
We look back at the man who lived life -- literally -- in the fast lane.
Every time a street-racer or a funny-car or a dragster burns out past the tower and rips its way into the hazy ripples of the late-summer heat, Treasure Valley fans will remember Bill New.
"To see them come and win and enjoy what they're doing that makes me very proud," said Bill.
Bill used to race hot-rods in the fifties. He built the Firebird track in 1968 because he and his buddies -- a group called the boot-leggers -- grew tired of racing at Gowen Field.
"When we built the track, we only had one thing we were focusing on, and that was getting the asphalt down so we could go racing," said Bill.
But when Bill laid down that first quarter-mile straight-away (no turns, mind you) he had no idea it would grow into one of the top drag-racing venues in the nation. "A lot of my contemporaries felt, 'You're taking too much of a gamble'," Bill remembered.
But it was a gamble that paid off; in smoke, charred rubber; and three boys eager to spend their years working at their father's side.
"Yeah, I wouldn't trade it for anything," says Bill's son, Scott.
The eldest son turned seven-years-old the year Firebird hosted its first race. He remembers cleaning debris from the track.
His father clearly passed on his love for racing.
"I've always loved racing, I mean, all my life, from the time I was just a little boy. Can't get it out of my blood," said Bill.
"All three of the grand kids are the next generation. They eat this up almost as much as we do," said Scott.
The new crew says the historic track their father built fills them with delight, and every day reminds them of dad.
"We're just proud to be his boys," says Scott.
A memorial service will be held for Bill New at the Riverside Hotel on Saturday, February 22.
Everyone is invited to attend.