Granite City Becomes Track #53, Despite Weather
Man the weather messes with racing plans sometimes.
My original plan: go to Deer Creek Speedway on Friday for the USMTS Fall Jamboree, drive to the cities and then go to the Punky Manor finale at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis. However, the forecasts I saw said 50/50 shot of rain in the Spring Valley area, so called an audible. But I was wrong as Deer Creek got both nights in.
My plan B was to go to Granite City Motor Park for Night 1 of the Piston Cup, go to the cities, then go to Menomonie Saturday. The weather looked bleak for Saturday in Menomonie, so I decided to stay in St. Cloud, because I figured I’d hit Granite City at least one night. Well they rained out on Friday and at least according to the forecast, Saturday looked like it would be OK. Well, they got a rain shower late rain the afternoon and that royally messed up the plans, delaying the start by three hours. They worked and worked and 2worked on that track to get it rolling, more on that later.
Let’s just say I got to know the St. Cloud area well, and to get my steps in I got to know the Crossroads Center very well. Probably could have memorized the place with as many laps as I took in there!
Casino Speedway in Watertown and Bemidji Speedway also battled the weather — Casino cancelled on Friday after several hours of work while Bemidji cancelled on Saturday after also trying hard to get the show in. The weather was a giant pain for a lot of tracks this weekend.
I finally made to Granite City around intermission — watched a handful on Dirt Race Central to make sure things were rolling along — which was a little before 11 p.m. (racing started around 9 p.m.). Red Cedar moved their Saturday starting time up to try and get the show in — but the rain wiped that out and moved the remainder of the show to Sunday.
Granite City is the 53rd different track I’ve been to. My first impression is how hard this track worked to get the show in. I mean, it took a ton of work to get that track in shape to race on Saturday. A lot of dirt was moved into piles in the field (see below). I can’t imagine the hours put in on that track Friday and Saturday in order to battle the weather. Thanks to track announcer Kyle Hall for keeping me posted.
I’m not sure I’ve seen a more determined effort to race under the circumstances. A Facebook post stated that they had planned this event for a while — bought a lot of food for concessions, done a lot of advertising, plus put in a lot of time in track prep. Not to mention the amount of time the individual who made the trophies put in — they were including engine parts and might have been the coolest trophies I’ve seen all year. The weather scared off some fans and drivers I'm sure, and I think if the weather was nice you could have a pretty cool two-day event there.
I tip my hat off to owner James Trantina and the staff there. The effort to get that show in was beyond what most tracks would even think of doing. Trantina, much like Don Shaw at I-94 Sure Step Speedway and Jason Berg at Buffalo River, also races during the evening; for much of the night Trantina was in his fire suit on the four-wheeler helping check cars after caution flags. That effort alone will make me want to come back to the track in the future.
I will say I was pleasantly surprised with how the racing was considering the weather was absolute crap for two days. The track was tacky but didn’t have a lot of character, and there was side by side racing in a lot of classes
Really happy to see Ashley Mehrwerth win her first feature of the year after a hard-fought battle with Zach Benson in a caution-fest (there was some idiotic driving back in the field of the Wissota Midwest Modified feature). Ashley was plenty fired up after that one and deservedly so. Another cool thing was Jenna Hagemann winning the Wissota Hornet feature. Seeing two females win on the same night is a good way to stick it to those with a sexist attitude in racing, and both were well-earned victories.
Shane Sabraski won two features — no shock there — while Ty Agen dominated the street stocks and Cole Searing dominated the late models.
My impressions of Granite City? Well it’s not fair to judge the racing/operations based on the weather the track faced on Friday and Saturday. But I liked the work ethic and commitment to racing. It’s a nice facility with a lot of seating and I’d like to go there again when the damn weather isn’t so bad. I give them an A for effort.
—Congrats to Kyle Dykhoff for wrapping up the 2022 Wissota Street Stock national championship with a feature win at Casino Speedway on Saturday. It’s a well-deserved title with 27 victories as he won a very hard-fought battle with former national champion Justin Vogel of Brooten. By my count, Dykhoff won at I-94 Sure Step Speedway, Casino Speedway, Madison, Ogilvie, Buffalo River, Fiesta City Speedway, Greenbush Race Park and River Cities Speedway this summer. Congrats to the Dykhoff team.
—Tyler Peterson of Horace clinched his second straight Wissota Modified national championship this week. He won the Wissota Modified feature at Casino on Saturday. Joseph Thomas of Glyndon won the modified feature on Sunday. Maria Broksieck of Goodwin, who is in the top five in national points, won the street stocks.
—I watched the Punky Manor finale on Sunday online. Afternoon racing is not ideal but I thought the racing was good. Chad Mahder of Bloomer won the late models and Buzzy Adams won the Wissota Modified.
—Congrats to Jamestown Stampede winners Jonny Carter (Wissota Street Stock), Don Shaw (Wissota Late Model), Alex Kukowski (INEX Legends), Dylan Sandberg (Bombers), Lucas Rodin (Wissota Midwest Modified), Shawn Strand (IMCA Modified), Luke Krogh (IMCA Sport Mod and IMCA Stock Car).