Some Things to Consider
A few follow up thoughts to the I-94 Sure Step Speedway opener.
There are three major factors affecting racing this spring. One has been the weather – rain, snow, cold, you name it. I worked a softball game on Monday where the game-time feels like temperature was in the 20s, and there were snow flurries in the air. It's been brutal.
A lot of tracks haven’t been able to touch the surface this spring as a result. And when we haven’t had much warm weather or sun, the drying process is slow. We had a few nice days to close the week, and let's hope for more.
I-94 had some character in turns one and two and it was a handful in the features, especially for the mods and mid mods. But considering the horrific spring weather wise, and the fact that I-94 added 1,000 yards of clay to its surface, it wasn’t unexpected. I know the I-94 folks worked hard just to get the track raceable and I know Scott Engfer and owner Don Shaw will continue to do so to get it in good shape. A stretch of dry, warmer weather would sure help a lot of racetracks.
The weather is also having a huge impact on spring planting. It will be a late planting season for most. Let’s put it in some perspective: on Saturday I drove 175 miles to Clarkfield, about 15 minutes south of Montevideo, and I counted seven tractors in the field the whole way, most of which were further south. It is that wet. And the further north you go in the Red River Valley, the more water there is. Several racers are farmers, who work in a jobs involving agriculture, and they will be impacted by the late planting season.
Second factor is gas prices, especially diesel. This not only concerns racers but people involved in the trucking industry. Fears are diesel will keep climbing through the summer, to well over $6. There is no doubt in my mind this will affect if racers travel or stick closer to home. Gas prices are hovering around $3.89-$3.95 in Fargo and could rise through the summer as well. And I don’t see the current regime in the White House with any way to remedy the situation (or most for that matter, but that’s another story).
Another factor is parts shortages. I know of at least three drivers waiting on engines (their builder is waiting for parts), and of course there are continued tire shortage issues. If you don’t have a spare engine and you blow up, you might be SOL this summer waiting to get one rebuilt. Several cars weren’t ready for Friday because were waiting on parts.
I’m not forecasting gloom and doom as I’m hopeful for a good season on the track. But there are lot of off-the-track things to deal with his year to keep in mind when going to the track.
Several RaceChaser-area tracks are scheduled to open this upcoming week
Red River Valley Speedway, West Fargo – May 13
River Cities Speedway, Grand Forks – May 13
Viking Speedway, Alexandria – May 14
Buffalo River Speedway, Glyndon – May 15
Sheyenne Speedway, Lisbon – May 15
The Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series is scheduled to come to I-94 Sure Step Speedway and Viking Speedway this week. Should be a good turnout at both tracks. River Cities has a big summer scheduled with a lot of special events. The NLRA Late Models are scheduled for Sheyenne Speedway on May 15 as well.
Norman County Raceway in Ada is traditionally the last area track to open its season, and will do so on May 26.
--The Lee siblings – Haley and Cody of Starbuck – have switched to SSR Chassis for their Wissota Midwest Modifieds in 2022. Cody had some good runs in Las Vegas and Bristol earlier this year.
--It was a night of extremes for Alexandria driver Ryan Mikkelson. He won the Viessman Late Model feature driving the #77 Polydome car; but earlier, while leading his Wissota Late Model heat, blew an engine and was done for the night. I thought he had a great shot at a feature win.
--Sam Zender’s Wissota Late Model is owned by Scott Rachels, while the 7S Viessman Late Model is his own.
--I think the run of the night was Corey Storck in the Wissota Midwest Modified. He had trouble in his heat with some front end damage – I believe he hit a tire (which happened a few times on Friday) – had to go to the B feature, finishing second. He avoided several mishaps and after starting 22nd in the feature, worked his way to fourth. All in all a good night after kind of a rough start in the heat.
--I mentioned Cody Skytland and Jason Thoennes coming out of retirement in the Wissota Modifieds, Another driver who was very formidable in a mod, Jason Grimes of Jamestown, hopped behind the wheel of Scott Bintz’s 1S machine. Bintz had three cars in attendance – Wissota Mod, Wissota Midwest Mod and Wissota Street Stock.
--McKenzie (Gerdes) Mikkelson of Alexandria took 2021 off, as she and husband Ryan welcomed their son, Leo to the world. She’s back behind the wheel this season and looked solid in her #13X Wissota Modified.
--Fergus Falls driver Ben Wolden has won five straight Limited Late Model track championships at I-94 – dating back to the class’s inception in 2017.
--Lindsey Hansen, formerly of Jamestown, now racing out of Watertown, S.D., finished fifth in the Midwest Modified feature on Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
--Ryan Satter sold this Wissota Street Stock he won track titles with at Viking and I-94 last summer to Davey Krutchen. He had another car that they put together for 2022. You might have saw the #01 that his dad, Mike, used – but Ryan assured me a new wrap with the familiar #67 is on its way. He will also run his IMCA Stock Car this season.