Former Sunland Track Secretary Finds New Job

By Ray Sanchez 

July 19, 2009


 It didnít take long for former Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino racing secretary Norm Amundson to find a new job. He has been hired to serve as racing secretary and announcer at Yellowstone Park in Billings, Montana.


Itíll be a homecoming for Amundson, who was released by Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino after the 2008-2009 season. A native of Montana, he had served as racing secretary and announcer at Yellowstone in 1999.


Before that, Amundson worked as racing secretary, publicity director and announcer when the Yellowstone track climbed to No. 1 on the stateís racing circuit in the 1970s.


"I went to college there and I worked the race meet there," Amundson said in an interview with Bill Bighaus of the Billings Gazette.. "So Billings is certainly one of my favorite places. It's my old stomping grounds."


NEEDLESS TO say, he is being welcomed with open arms by the enthusiastic racing industry in Montana.


"I know one thing; I haven't talked to anybody yet that hasn't had a good word to say about him," race director Ben Carlson said of Amundson. "He worked with Tom Tucker (at the Billings track) for years. Tom does nothing but rave about him, so I'm looking forward to having somebody with that expertise to step into the position."


Amundson held a variety of positions over the past 20 years at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, including 14 years as racing secretary/handicapper. He was also the track announcer for several seasons.


"I've been able to see some of the best in racing, but I've always appreciated the grassroots level," Amundson said about his return to Billings.


YELLOWSTONE Downs is scheduled to run over four weekends from late August to mid September. The eight racing dates include Aug. 22, 23, 29, 30 and Sept. 6, 7, 12 and 13.


He will be replacing longtime racing secretary Holly Burrows, who is remaining in Belgrade with her family this summer. Amundson plans to begin work on Aug. 17 and will be traveling to Billings with his wife, Eldene.


"I hope with my experience I will be able to put together the best program possible with the horses we have available," he said. "I hope it will be a good fit, and that it will be an annual thing."


AMUNDSON ADDS that this position kills two birds with one stone. ďIt allows us to be closer to family and gets me back in the work groove,Ē Amundson said.


His brother, Gary, teaches business classes at Montana State and his 89-year-old mother, Elinor, is in a big Timber nursing home.


Amundson had a lot of fans at Sunland and did a lot of good for the track. Itís good to see him have such a nice, soft landing from his Sunland fall.


TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the pitcher who lost three games in the World Series in 1981 and the team he was on? Answer at end.


EL PASO HALL of Fame president and KVIA-TV general manager Kevin Lovell didnít waste any time contacting the Texas Sports Hall of Fame about nominating local legend Nolan Richardson for induction.


He got a positive reply. Jay Black, curator of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, informed Lovell that itís too late for this year but that he will add Richardson to the nominating file for next year.


AND I LEAVE you with this golf item from reader Tom Hussman: Golf legend Sam Snead once remarked, ďThese greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow.Ē


ANSWER to trivia question: George Frazier of the New York Yankees.


Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at or online at