- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Late summer monsoon storms have turned western Utah’s famous salt flats into a shallow lake, forcing the cancellation of the area’s largest annual speed event.

The annual Speed Week trials draw competitors from around the globe who tear across the gleaming white salt sheets in cars and motorcycles, with hopes of breaking records.

But runoff from rainstorms on the surrounding mountains last week flooded the salt flats on the eve of the race.

The Southern California Timing Association, which sponsors the race, canceled the weeklong event Saturday after realizing the ankle-deep standing water wouldn’t dry out in time.

Hundreds of participants had already arrived for this week’s race, but local officials say hotels and businesses in the nearby border towns of Wendover, Utah, and West Wendover, Nevada, will still lose revenue.

“I wasn’t surprised they called it because there was no way they could run it there safely.” Wendover Mayor Mike Crawford said Tuesday. “But it’s just a shock to the town.”

Several racing events are held at the Bonneville Salt Flats each year, but Speed Week is the big event.

“When the racers come in, the whole town fills up,” Crawford said.

Hotel rooms in both border towns often raise rates and fill every room, he said, while racers and spectators spend money on items such as gas, food and other goods, which generates local tax revenue for the city.

Crawford estimates Wendover will lose about $25,000 in revenue.

Personally, Crawford said he’s taking a hit as the owner of an auto parts store.

During the week of the speed trials, he orders in special parts, hires two extra workers and sees business increase.

Now Crawford expects he’ll earn $6,000 to $10,000 less than expected.

Kerrie Supanich, a spokeswoman for the West Wendover Tourism and Convention Bureau, said the tax revenues for the city are expected to be cut in half.

“The fact that it was canceled after a large percentage of them were already here actually kind of helped blunt the cancellation,” Supanich said.

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