A recent editorial in the weekly Bitterroot Star of Stevensville, Mont., likened a racetrack proposed for the Bitterroot Valley to "a smelly dog, running from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of a home." Promoters first went to the Ravalli County Commission, asking to build a racetrack at the county fairgrounds in Hamilton, Mont. The commissioners said no.


But this particular "smelly dog" seems to have found a home on a ranch near the town of Stevensville, and neighbors have set up a howl of protest.


"Oh, yeah, we're going to build it," says race-car driver Travis Panko of the Bitterroot Valley Motor Sports Association. "The 40 acres will include everything - parking, Porta-potties, a clay-surfaced track, concessions, and a playground for the kids. It's going to be a family-oriented place." Panko says that the cars and motorcycles will use mufflers, and "decibel levels will be kept under 100."


This doesn't quell Richard McKay's anger over the plan. He moved to the area from Seattle one year ago and he calls the track a "growing monster." McKay heads a group called Bitterrooters Against the Racetrack, and vows a serious struggle. The track would lie less than a half-mile from the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in a county where voters have repeatedly turned down zoning laws.


"They haven't seen the tip of the iceberg in this fight," he says. "Where, in all this, is my right to the quiet enjoyment of my property?"


- Hal Herring