For Late Model Fans, Local Options Becoming Less and Less
I was really hoping to catch a few late model shows this weekend. But after Friday night I don't have a lot of options.
I, like many, are disappointed Viking Speedway in Alexandria isn't running its traditional Memorial Day NLRA Late Model doubleheader this year. That usually drew late model counts in the mid 20s -- last year there was a three-night Wissota Late Model challenge series swing starting at I-94, and the car counts were all 24 or higher.
I'm sure Viking has reasons for not running the lates this year but as a fan I am bummed and so have some others who've posted online
I do know that without having to travel some, my options to find late models weekly are becoming less and less. I don't have a ton of options after Friday nights.
There are four potential options for me on Friday night. Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen is about 190 miles from my house and so is Fiesta City in Montevideo. River Cities in Grand Forks and I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls are also options within about an hour's drive. That is nice, but the problem for me as a fan? All 4 race on the SAME NIGHT.
You have to look long and hard to find another weekly late model show on Saturday or Sunday. Devils Lake Speedway near Crary, ND is the closest option for me on Saturday, and that is 155 miles away for me, and while they run the lates several times, they do not run them every week.
Let's look at the an example from the driver's perspctiv. Let's say you are the Meyer Racing Team out of Wahpeton, ND. You race every Friday at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls. But say there is no NLRA show scheduled for a Saturday. What options do they have to race on that night?
Devils Lake is running the late models seven times this summer on Saturdays, including May 25, this Saturday. There were actually 11 late model shows scheduled at Devils Lake but four have been canceled because of weather. Still, from Wahpeton, that is more than a 200-mile drive.
There are other options, but some are even further. Miller Speedway in South Dakota is an option, but that is nearly four hours away. There is Cedar Lake Speedway in Western Wisconsin but that is four-plus hours away. There is Hibbing Raceway in NE Minnesota, but that is more than four hours away (trust me, I've made the trip from Fargo). So if they'd want to race, they'd have to travel (Horace, ND driver Cole Schill is an example, he's traveled to Wisconsin already this season to race).
Sunday nights there is Casino Speedway in Watertown, which is about a two-hour trip down I-29. Not bad, but you run the risk of getting home late on a Sunday. Proctor Speedway runs on Sundays too, but that is four hours from Fargo.
I can understand why tracks don't run the class weekly -- they don't want to pay that kind of purse to get 10-12 cars. But one of the reasons the late model class has dwindled is drivers don't have as many places to race as years past. If you are going to spend a good amount of money on a late model you'd like to be able to race it more than once a week.
I'd like to see a re-birth of the weekly late model shows so I don't have to drive 150-200 miles for a show. Perhaps the limited late models will serve as a feeder class to the big late models locally. As fans, we can only hope.