CASA GRANDE — Over the past year, Casa Grande has made headlines resurrecting “zombie” subdivisions that were dormant for over a decade. But another project that was stymied by the recession, and later COVID-19, a proposed raceway development southwest of the city, is finally seeing the light of day.
Ground was broken on the Podium Club track portion of the Attesa racing development, located just off Interstate 8 and Bianco Road. A parade of construction vehicles began moving dirt, even as thunder rolled in the distance. Project leaders and local officials expressed both relief and enthusiasm that the project was finally underway.
“These years haven’t been super easy,” said Attesa’s managing member, Dan Erickson. “But we have had the benefit of the county helping us out in every possible way.”
Erickson, who began his career working for Ferrari, said he first partnered with Attesa President Pat Johnson seven years ago for the project. Erickson described the plans for the 500-acre Podium Club member track as a place for enthusiasts devoid of exclusivity.
“I wanted to give back to the racing community,” Erickson said. “We want a track for the masses, not necessarily the wealthy guys.”
Johnson said he’d been trying to get some type of racetrack in the area since before the Great Recession until he partnered with Erickson on their specific project.
“I’m just tickled that we finally got this thing off the ground,” said County Supervisor Steve Miller. “I like helping people see their dreams come true. A lot of people will be able to use this facility in the future.”
When the first phase is completed — Erickson is hoping that will happen by the fourth quarter of 2021 — the club will be the southwest’s only automobile and motorcycle track designed to FIA/FIM safety specs. Eventually the Podium Club will also include an auto paddock area and an RV park.
Plans for the overall 2,400-acre Attesa site include further track and even residential and commercial development — Erickson described the zoning as “unique” — so those using the track can stay at the site. Erickson said those plans, as well as possible annexation by the city of Casa Grande, are further down the road but could happen within the next decade.
CASA GRANDE — Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1677 in Casa Grande will host a fundraiser Saturday for the family of a Maricopa mom who died of COVID-19 shortly after giving birth to her daughter.
The fundraiser begins at 5 p.m. at 111 E. Second Street.
Funds raised will benefit Gordon Wade and his infant daughter, Skylar.
Wade’s fiancée, Jhoselyn Ortiz, died of COVID-19 in April. The couple had planned to be married after the pandemic.
“They were engaged and happily planning their wedding and future together. COVID-19 put a halt to those plans,” said De Porter, one of the organizers of the fundraiser.
She said the couple had been careful to avoid the virus. But once she became ill, Ortiz developed complications and was hospitalized.
“Jhoselyn was stricken very hard and spent a lengthy stay in a coma at the hospital,” Porter said. “Her deterioration progressed, and at seven months into her pregnancy, they had to take the baby or lose her. The baby spent a few weeks in the hospital NICU ward stabilizing.”
Although Ortiz died on her birthday, the baby, Skylar Avery, survived.
Wade and Skylar live in Maricopa. Porter met Wade and his father through karaoke events at the VFW post in Casa Grande.
“They visited the VFW for karaoke quite a bit, so when we heard what had happened, we wanted to help,” Porter said. “The VFW offered to let us use the facility.”
She hopes the fundraiser is successful and raises money to help with Skylar’s care.
“The sky’s the limit,” Porter said. “I’m so honored to be a part of this effort to raise funds and give hope to Gordon and Skylar.”
The event features a spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread from 5 to 8 p.m. for a $15 donation. Dancing, entertainment and prizes are from 8 to 10 p.m.
As well as dinner, dancing and entertainment, the event includes door prizes, a 50-50 raffle and an auction.
The event is open to all who wish to contribute.