BILL NEW: Innovator, promoter, mentor and a great friend.
By Jim Rockstad, picture above-left
I was stunned on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 when I received the sad news of Bill New’s passing. When I hung up the phone a million memories flashed through my mind - or so it seemed. After some time to catch my breath a bit, I felt a huge need to put together a letter for Bill’s family about my friend and mentor.
As I gathered my thoughts so I could assemble this letter I had problems with separating the long trail of conversations; plans for race events or just general discussion about motor sports I always had with Bill New. Included in the discussions was his mentoring that assisted me in the sport that we both loved. To me he was positioned as the “granddaddy” of drag racing so I needed to learn from, certainly one of the absolute best race track operators in the entire sport…and there have been a lot of them.
Our relationship began somewhere in the early 70's. I was a young upstart in the sport gathering all the information I could possibly get my hands on. Bill New reached out to me in so many ways as I became involved in management, first in Portland, then at Seattle International Raceway in 1976.
I needed a lot of guidance in my early years at SIR because I had limited business experience. I always felt that any assistance he gave me was “straight and true” which was very comforting as I grew in the sport. In the early years he sent me a financial book which I read many times over and over. It was just a small effort but a wonderful assistance to me as sort of the “new kid on the block”.
I cannot count high enough the number of times that we talked for hours and hours about track management, racing events and a long list of motor sports agenda. The trust I felt with Bill New allowed us to work closely together over the years in a multitude of ways. But always in the discussions he would present some ideas for me to try; talk through the financial end of race tracks along with coordination for races at both facilities. I was hungry to learn more from a guy that was so respected throughout the sport. Without a doubt, he was a track operator extraordinaire….and I knew a lot of track operators across the country.
His race track in Boise, Idaho, was often times used by me as an example of one of the finest in the country…and I have visited many, many race tracks over the years.
On a personal level, I am having a tough time putting this all together. When you have known someone like Bill New for over 40 years it's stunning to hear about their passing. Bill New was so entwined in my life for so long and had such a valuable impact throughout my life.....well, it just leaves me breathless.
No doubt, because of his ongoing mentoring I was able to retire in 2001. Bill New assisted me in any way that he could as I learned so much from this very special friend.
Bless you, Bill New..............and thanks for so much support over the years.
— Jim Rockstad