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RaceChaser Editorial: Wissota/IMCA Split, Length of Shows, Covid Claims Its Share of Racing Events

Austin Arneson (10) and Michael Johnson (84) were two IMCA drivers who raced at the NCR Wissota Show.

With Norman County Raceway in Ada canceling on Thursday, it gave me time to work on an opinion piece I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s funny what ideas pop into your head when you are in a car for 8-10 hours in a weekend. Keep in mind I write this as a stock-car racing fan and it’s 100 percent my opinion.

Here it goes:

—The Wissota/IMCA split in this region has NOT been good for area racing. It has split the modified class down by sanctioning bodies and when you do that, car counts drop weekly at tracks. You see a few IMCA modifieds that try Wissota shows but very few Wissota mods that try IMCA shows.

I’m not going to debate which sanctioning body is better or debate rules although I have opinions on that. They both have good points and bad points and both series have good drivers. This blog is not about rules and politics. It’s about what I think as a fan.

I’ll use River Cities Speedway as an example last week. The bullring added the Wissota Mods for a show last Friday. I-94 Sure Step Speedway gave the mods the night off so I thought that might pull a few. Instead 13 cars — even though the quality was very good in the top 5-6 cars — were on hand. Some of that is impacted by the US/Canadian travel ban, which cost them 3-4 mods at least. But with Red River Valley Speedway raining out last week, wouldn’t it have been nice to see a few of those modifieds come up north to race?

I don’t have a good solution to this divide, and for some reason, it seems to pit modified drivers in corners — IMCA in one and Wissota in another. That isn’t good on any front.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a set of rules that allowed modified drivers to race at any local track and not get locked into Wissota OR IMCA? Just dreaming, I know.

—I appreciated Viking Speedway getting done in less than three hours last week. It was a good show and the track was pretty good. I can’t remember the last time I was out of Viking at 9:30!

I’ve been to too many 3-4 hour (or more) shows this year, not just locally. Intermissions are turning into a half hour — I can bear with that if that involves significant farming of the track — and that’s too long. Some tracks sprinkle a little water on the track and are done. You don’t need 30 minute intermissions for that.

There are other things that are part of racing that just happen that can delay a show — power outage, a red flag for a crash, fencing/wall being damaged, etc. I understand and get those.

Plus, it’s time to go to a one-solo spin-and-you’re-in rule in heat races. I’m not talking about someone who gets spun out, or who spins to avoid cars that are piled up ahead. I’m talking about the cars that spin out, wait for the yellow and magically restart once the yellow light is on. Too many delays there in heat races.

There needs to be more urgency. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Shows need to be done in 3 hours. The long shows drive away fans. Urgency also includes not wasting a ton of time between races, getting the cars lined up faster, etc. I’m not a fan of 4-hour plus shows.

--I've also written about the good young talent, particularly in the teenage group, in the RaceChaser area. But let's not forget the older veteran crowd, either. So far, 60-somethings Tom Corcoran, Jimmy "Nitro" Williams, Pokey Lukes and Ron Saurer have won features this season. A few 50-somethings have won, too -- Bob Martin, Brad Seng, Todd Carter. Experience matters.

—I’ve written about using the black flag more often for rough driving. The big reason I am a proponent of this is, I don’t like to see torn up race cars. Nor do I like to see drivers demo derby their way to the front and frankly we have a few of those in the RaceChaser area.

I think some flagmen are afraid to use the black flag because they are afraid of pissing off a driver to the point where he/she won’t come back. With car counts not being in abundance I especially believe this to be true.

One thing I don’t like to see is torn up equipment because of rough driving. That can be avoided more often if the black flag is used as a deterrent.

—For heaven’s sake, start racing programs on time. Enough said on that.

—Candidates for most improved driver this year are many: Kyle Anderson, Ryan Gierke, Joseph Thomas, Brody Troftgruben, Brendan Mullen, Tanner Engen to name a few. If we are venturing outside the area Tyler Kaeter, the modified driver, would be on that list too. We’ll name some “award” winners at the end of the year.

Covid has Claimed its Share of Racing Events

With the announcement this week that the 2020 World 100 at Eldora Speedway was canceled, it got me thinking about some of the big events in our part of the country that have been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The World 100 is perhaps the most historic dirt late model race in the nation, or at least you could make that case.

Some Minnesota tracks won’t even open in 2020 — Halvor Lines Speedway in Proctor, Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo and Granite City Speedway in Sauk Rapids. Which is sad.

Here is a partial list which also includes some bigger events locally.

Wissota 100 at I-94 Sure Step Speedway

Silver 100 at Proctor (a long running late model special)

Corn Cob Nationals at Buffalo River Race Park (although I was doubting from April this would even happen, but that’s another blog)

June WOO Sprint Show at River Cities Speedway

Wissota Late Model Challenge Series (all events)

Advantage RV Modified Tour (all events)

Several WOO Late Model Shows in Minnesota

Knoxville Nationals in Iowa (top sprint car event in country)

Wissota National Points

What it has done is make me appreciate the racing that has been held. Some track owners/promoters stuck their necks out, financially, to have a 2020 season in spite of crowd size restrictions because of Covid-19. As a fan I appreciate this.

A few bigger events happened — the Dakota Classic Mod Tour, the Dacotah Rumble in Aberdeen, the WOO Late Models in West Fargo and Grand Forks.

This also has impacted the businesses that sponsor racing, too. When I was driving to Superior a few weeks ago I couldn’t tell you the number of restaurants I saw closed for kid. Perhaps the government should have had a better plan to allow these establishments to stay open rather than shut them down completely for 2-3 months.

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