Dick Boness put the pedal to car racing

One of the last original links to the decades when oval-track car racing was a regular attraction in Pierce County is gone with the recent death of Dick Boness.

Boness died Feb. 5. He was 90.

He and his wife, Wanda (who died in 2012 at the age of 84) built and operated Spanaway Speedway for 42 years. At its peak, the track, which was located three miles east of State Route 7 on 22nd Avenue East in Spanaway, had racing four days a week – Sunday afternoons and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. The programs included street stocks and hobby stocks, figure-8 and spectator drags. NASCAR racing also was staged there, as were demolition derbies.

The Boness influence in auto racing went regional when the couple opened Tenino (South Sound) Speedway. They also operated tracks in eastern Washington, including Spokane.

The couple sold Spanaway Speedway in 2003 and the land became a housing development.

Before they gave up their pride and joy, Wanda and Dick ran Spanaway Speedway as family-oriented entertainment. But it also was good for surrounding businesses as an engine for the local economy. Some news reports put the track’s economic impact at an estimated $10 million a year for nearby restaurants, car parts suppliers, welding shops and motels.

Here’show the Boness legacy is recalled by Tacoma Athletic Commission: “In 1956, Dick and his brother, Fred Jr., convinced their parents, Fred and Nina, that the family dairy farm would be a good site for a race track. Dick prevailed and opened a seven-mile dirt track that fall. Spanaway Speedway became the longest-lived racing facility in Pierce County.”

Besides auto sports, Dick was an entrepreneur in businesses that ranged from car lots, gas stations, restaurants and storage shed rentals to land development. The Nebraska native also worked for a railroad and was a licensed plumber.

Dick Boness and his wife, Wanda, built and operated Spanaway Speedway for 42 yesrs.