September and October are big months in dirt-track racing in the region. You have major events like the John Seitz Memorial, Wissota 100, Punky Manor Challenge of Champions, Red Clay Classic and the Fall Classic, among others, that are highly popular with drivers and fans alike.
If you can’t make it in person to these events or many others in the region, there’s another option to catch the action – and that’s catching the live stream on Dirt Race Central (drc.tv). The site is run by Ben Kruchten of Richmond, Minn.
“September, October and April and May are the busiest months of the year,” Kruchten said. “September is when you have most of the big shows.”
This year, besides covering several invitational events this fall, Dirt Race Central is live streaming 28 dirt tracks weekly and will cover 500 events live in 2023, both highs for the website. Kruchten says 25-30 events are covered weekly during the regular season. The streams are broadcast in 1080 resolution.
“I pay pretty close attention to detail and the quality of the videos,” Kruchten said.
Kruchten started a racing website called Thunder Line Racing when he was 14 years old that compiled racing stats on tracks he attended.
“I was always into racing – my dad raced, my cousin raced,” Kruchten said. “I was going to the races every week and I wanted something to do.”
Soon after, Kruchten and his brother Davey started recording races at North Central Speedway in Brainerd and would post them on YouTube. Davey would run the camera and Ben would write the articles for the track.
“We recorded a race or two on an iPad, and put one up on YouTube, and people kept asking if we were going to do more,” Kruchten said.
Dirt Race Central started as an on-demand site as the Kruchtens would record races at I-94 Speedway, Princeton Raceway and North Central Speedway. By 2015, he was recording some of the bigger events in the region – and doing some of them live online -- and also putting them on-demand, and the popularity of the site kept growing.
DRC’s first live streamed race came at the P-Town Showdown at Princeton Raceway. In 2019, DRC began streaming Ogilvie Raceway weekly, and Kruchten estimated that between 30 and 40 events were covered live overall that year.
Then came the Covid pandemic of 2020, when some tracks shut down completely and other tracks had to limit the number of people able to sit in the crowds because of government restrictions. The demand of online streaming the races skyrocketed.
“With Covid, we went from 30-40 events to 150 or so,” Kruchten said. “It made everybody want to do live (streaming). Covid was a big reason it’s taken off.”
And each year, the number of tracks and events covered by DRC has grown. Each stream has a camera operator hired by DRC – usually from someone there to follow the action on the track, and most of the time, the audio from the track announcer is used to describe the play-by-play. DRC works out a profit split with the tracks it covers based on number of online viewers.
Kruchten himself covered Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon, I-94 EMR Speedway, Ogilvie Raceway and Casino Speedway in Watertown this summer.
“It’s a lot of hours,” Kruchten said. “Some people just think you show up at the track. I’m at the track everyday by noon or 1 p.m. And it’s all of the stuff you do during the week, it’s a full-time job.”
DRC puts out social media video clips, recapping previous action or previewing upcoming events. This year, Dirt Race Central sponsored the Street Stock Tour for the first time. Last year, DRC added the Wissota 100 to its live streaming events.
“I worked on that for quite a while. It went really well,” Kruchten said.
The site has many older races archived as well, and some are going back to the 1990s. He’s continuing to add to that library while also adding more and more racing statistics. In the winter, Kruchten gets some time off but also does much of that archiving work, which includes transferring races from VHS to the site.
It’s taken a while to build a subscriber base, but DRC has done that with the help of partnering with Wissota.tv. The tracks have embraced the coverage.
“They’re all pretty happy,” Kruchten said.