Right Now, Many Minnesota Racetracks Suffering While Other States' Tracks Get to Race
Racetracks in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa have opened. Some will open this week, including Jamestown, Red River Valley, Dacotah Speedway in Mandan and Brown County Speedway in South Dakota.
Then there’s Minnesota, where almost every track sits idle, thanks to the slow easing of crowd restrictions in the state. Not to mention that restaurants and bars who don’t have outdoor seating are suffering, too, among other businesses.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz doesn’t get it on this issue. Many of the decision he makes focuses on the metro area — which is understandable — but remember much of your state is rural. You can’t make one decision and expect it to make sense for the whole state. One size doesn’t fit all.
I’ve had issues not only with some of his more recent decisions on Covid-19 (some, not all) but his handling of easing restrictions. And also him taking so much time to activate the National Guard while dozens of Minneapolis businesses were being looted and destroyed by rioters last week. But that’s a separate deal.
for the record I don’t care what party the politician is. If I disagree with him/her I’ll voice it.
Norman County Raceway in Ada is going to race this Thursday and they are the first RaceChaser-area track in Minnesota to open, with social distancing and fan restrictions in place. I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls and Viking Speedway in Alexandria have yet to open. In fact, Viking and Madison (Minn.) Speedway have suspended their seasons indefinitely until the Covid 19 restrictions are lifted. Who knows when that will be.
Here is something to consider: Proctor Speedway is located just outside of Duluth (nice place, by the way). It can’t race, government won’t let it. About 15 minutes, or 11 miles away, is Gondik Law Speedway in Superior, Wis., (one of my top five favorite tracks ever) which has already raced three times — with fans and great car counts. The track has a doubleheader this week, in fact.
So Superior has three nights in, and with good weather, will have more shows in before Proctor even opens the season. Proctor is getting the shaft on that deal and Superior will benefit a great deal.
Plus, there are several tracks in Minnesota that are privately owned businesses — Ogilvie, Deer Creek Speedway, I-94, Greenbush Race Park, Bemidji, Chateau Raceway near Austin, Granite City in Sauk Rapids, North Central Speedway in Brainerd come to mind. These are not non-profit organizations, either. Some tracks at county fairgrounds are run by associations and non-profits; some by individual families or promoters (Bitker family in Ada, for example). They are all pretty much handcuffed by state Covid-19 restrictions that I think at this point, really need to be eased.
I’m deeply concerned this could be the end of some Minnesota racetracks. Some may not open this year and it could mean they don’t re-open again.
As far as fan restrictions go, tracks can’t operate without fans. Fans help pay driver purse, employee wages, insurance, and well you get the picture. Telling a track they can have only 100 fans is like telling a restaurant/bar they can serve five customers a night. It won’t work.
And I haven't heard Gov. Walz being all that upset about the spread of Covid-19 from the tens of thousands of people who were protesting in the state last week, standing close together, many without masks, and not following CDC social distancing guidelines. I guess a person doesn't have to be consistent in that area if it benefits how he looks politically.
Tracks should have social distancing guidelines, should have proper sanitizing/cleaning procedures, and take precautions to stop the spread of Covid-19. Of course. I've taken it seriously from the outset, but I also don't want to live life in a bubble.
Other states have figured it out, why can't Minnesota?
This matters to me because I am a native of Minnesota, lived there more than half of my life. Some RaceChaser sponsors are in Minnesota. Many drivers I cover race in Minnesota. Right now they are getting the shaft.
Let’s contact Governor Walz’s office and tell him to let tracks race with fans. You can fill out the form at https://mn.gov/governor/contact/ or call his office. 651-201-3400
We get 3-4 months a year to enjoy our hobby. Let’s fight for it.