RaceChaser Notebook: Ron Krog and Viking Speedway, Area Drivers Shining
Viking Speedway in Alexandria has some long-time fixtures at its track. If you are a fan, most likely Vern Olson took your ticket — he did it for 50 years and retired after last year at age 91. He’s in the Hall of Fame at Viking, by the way. I’m also told there are other long-time employees who are part of keeping the weekly show running.
Then there’s the guy behind the microphone — Ron Krog. He took over announcing full-time at the track in 1988 (anyone remember the days he used to announce from the infield Crow’s Nest?) and has done it ever since. He is highly popular there with both drivers and fans. I had a ton of respect for him and to me he is one of the great ambassadors racing has had in western Minnesota.
Here is a blog I did a few years ago on Ron. I interviewed him during a rain delay at I-94 in 2017.
So when I heard on Sunday he was retiring from announcing at Viking Speedway. I mean, I was shocked. I’ve been listening to this guy at the half-mile 30-some years. He was inducted into the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame.
To be clear, Ron told me via text on Sunday at this time he’s only stepping away from announcing at Viking. Which means we hopefully can still hear him at I-94 Sure Step Speedway next year which is in his hometown of Fergus Falls.
We’ve become so accustomed to hearing him at Viking. He’s always brought an enthusiasm and energy to that place. And he’s incredibly well-prepared and knows so much about drivers, including how many wins each driver as at the half-mile. I’ve used him as a resource for feature stories.
Think about it. He’s been announcing 3-4 nights a week for nearly 30 years. Many years, he did four tracks a week, some as far as two hours from his home in Fergus Falls . I’ve announced weekly once a week back in the day at Grove Creek and Fiesta City Speedway. It is a lot of work just to prep for and announce one night; I can’t imagine what it’d be like doing it four nights a week. But he’s done it, and done it wonderfully.
One of my best memories of Ron is at Madison Speedway and the back-and-forth banter between him and Maynard Meyer in the 1990s. That was as entertaining as the racing some nights. The crowd would go nuts.
I’m sure Ron’s replacement at Viking will do a great job. And it’s important not to try and be the next Ron Krog at Viking but to be your own person in that role.
I know this, going to Viking Speedway won’t be the same for me and many fans without Ron behind the mic. He will be missed there.
—Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes won four INEX Legend track titles this season — at Norman County Raceway, Red River Valley Speedway, Jamestown Speedway and Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon. Wilke has 20 wins this season and 34 top fives in 43 starts (myracepass stats). Wilke is third in the INEX Pro Dirt National points and is only six points behind national point leader Drew Papke.
—Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls won Wissota Midwest Modified championships at Norman County, I-94 Sure Step and Viking Speedway. He has an incredible 21 wins in 48 starts and 37 top five finishes. His 21 victories are the most of any RaceChaser area driver.
—Ryan Satter of Dent won Wissota Street Stock track titles at Viking Speedway and I-94 Sure Step Speedway. He has 12 wins this season and 26 top fives in 32 events.
—Tyler Peterson of Hickson won the Wissota Modified feature Sunday at Casino Speedway in Watertown, S.D. Peterson put the finishing touches on his second straight track championship at Casino. Peterson has five wins this season.
—Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks won the Wissota Street Stock point title at Greenbush Race Park.
—Ryan Braseth of Ulen leads the INEX Legends Semi-Pro national points. He has six wins this season but has finished in the top five 32 times. Brody Carlsrud of Fargo, who is moving to the IMCA Stock Car class next year, is third in those standings.
—Jonny Carter of Lisbon has won six straight Wissota Street Stock point titles at Sheyenne Speedway.
—The 14th John Seitz Memorial will be at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks this week, starting on Friday (after the Prelude to the Johnny on Thursday). It is $9,200 to win the Wissota Late Model feature. One thing is almost certain — we won’t have a repeat winner from 2019. Canadian driver Aaron Turnbull won the event in 2019 but with the non-essential travel ban between Canada and the United States, it’s likely he, along with several other Canadian drivers, will be in attendance this week. I’m thinking that travel ban could cost RCS up to 10 late models before it’s all done. I’m hoping for 40. My pre-race favorites: Dustin Strand, A.J. Diemel, Brad Seng and Don Shaw. Then again, Aaron Turnbull came out of the blue last year and won.
—A few RaceChaser-area IMCA Sport Mods ventured over to North Central Speedway in Brainerd for the Mighty Axe Nationals so I was keeping an eye on the results. Looked like a rough weekend for the sport mods over there — 23 cars started Saturday’s feature, and 10 finished. On Sunday 27 cars started and 14 finished. I’m wondering if these were actual feature races or demo derbies with that kind of attrition.
—I’d have to look, but I’m guessing it’s been a while since Dave Mass ran back-to-back super stock shows at Viking Speedway without getting a feature win. He was second to Trevor Saurer on Saturday and then finished seventh on Sunday. Josh Zimpel of Braham impressed me this weekend with a pair of top fives at Viking.
—RaceChaser tracks whose seasons are over include Norman County Raceway in Ada, Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon, Viking Speedway in Alexandria. River Cities has the Seitz Memorial this week; on Sept. 18 the track hosts its Fenderless Finale with NOSA Sprints, Lightning Sprints, Non-Winged Sprints and I believe IMCA Sport Mods.
I-94 has the Dick Johanneck King of the Dirt Special on Sept. 17-19. Devils Lake will run its regular classes as part of the Pure Stock Nationals on Sept. 19.
—The Reinke brothers from Lisbon tied for the track points lead at Sheyenne in the Wissota Midwest Modified class. That doesn’t happen often, especially with two brothers. Zach Reinke won the tiebreaker by virtue of having more feature wins (two).
—Bo Gregor of Lisbon won the Hobby Stock track title at Sheyenne — by two points. Had he finished one spot further back on Sunday, he would have lost the point title to Jayden Michaelsohn. It was that close.
—Many street stock drivers are having big years — Jonny Carter, Eric Riley of Morris, Satter as examples — but another driver who I think will be a major force at the Jamestown Stampede is Billie Christ of Jamestown. He’s back in the street stocks after a few years in the IMCA Mod class. He has six wins, including a win at the special in Aberdeen last weekend.
Riley, by the way, has seven wins, including four Steffes Street Stock tour wins. He also won for the first time at two tracks he’s had less-than-stellar luck at — Viking and I-94.
-- Wilke is 17 and picked up his four titles, as mentioned. But he isn't the only teenager to win a points championship. 14-year-old Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks won the IMCA Hobby Stock title at Red River Valley Speedway while 14-year-old Gavin Walton of Englevale won the Mini Stock title, in thrilling fashion, at Sheyenne Speedway. Gavin's father Neil was one proud dad after he won the feature to clinch his first championship.
-- Fergus Falls driver Ben Wolden has won the Limited Late Model track championship at I-94 Sure Step Speedway all three years the class has existed. Speaking of I-94 Daniel Harstad has won back-to-back Short Tracker crowns.
-- There are two Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint races left at River Cities Speedway (Sept. 11 and 18). Jade Hastings of Grand Forks leads Wade Nygaard by 50 points in the standings. Defending champion Nick Omdahl of East Grand Forks was third.
-- Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks leads the NLRA Late Model points heading into Thursday's series final at River Cities. Strand leads Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks by 60 points going into Thursday. Strand is a three-time NLRA champion.