Stevenator Receives a Surprise Gift He Will Never Forget
Updated: Jun 14
Steven Olson of West Fargo has been taking pictures for more than a decade at racetracks in the Red River Valley. He takes as many as 400 pictures a night, whether it being action shots or photos from the pit area.
He’s so well-known — and liked — that drivers and fans at the simply call him the Stevenator. It is a complete term of endearment.
“He’s loved by everybody in the pits,” Speedway Shots owner Mike Spieker said.
On Friday at intermission at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, the Stevenator got a surprise gift that he will never forget.
Thanks to a fundraising effort spearheaded by Maci Hall and Spieker, which saw contributions from many area racing drivers and fans, Stevenator now has new camera equipment to take pictures with at the track. More than $4,000 worth, in fact. He was presented with the equipment at West Fargo on Friday night to a standing ovation — and with many drivers surrounding him. The fundraising effort and ensuing presentation was meant as a surprise for Olson — and he definitely was on Friday. Not only did he receive the equipment, he also received a board signed by many, many drivers and fans.
“It means the world to me,” Olson said on Friday.
Olson is a 28-year-old with special needs who lives with his parents, Norm and Kris in West Fargo. Norm is a long-time racer in the area.
He works as a bagger at the Osgood Hornbacher’s and also drives go-karts on Monday nights at the Red River Kart Club. Olson takes pictures at Norman County Raceway in Ada, Red River Valley Speedway and Sheyenne Speedway and also has taken pictures at Buffalo River Race Park — and does good work.
This past April, Olson did a video chat with Mason Eisenzimmer of Mason Aaron’s Racing Videos that caught Maci Hall’s attention. Olson mentioned he’d been wanting to upgrade his older camera equipment — which was many years old — but the cost of doing so was prohibitive. Maci Hall — the wife of Tyler Hall of Fertile of drives the #60 IMCA Modified at local tracks — put a plan into action.
“I was inspired by everything Steven does for the racing community,” Hall said.
Hall and Spieker — who also does a lot of PR work for area tracks and drivers — worked together and formed a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new camera and lens. Their first goal was $1,200. After the launch on Facebook, that amount was raised in less than 90 minutes.
“Asking for $1,200 in the middle of a pandemic, we didn’t know what we were going to get,” Spieker said. “There are people out of jobs. We launched in the middle of the afternoon one day on Facebook and it started clicking right away. We surpassed our goal after about 90 minutes and it just bonus after that.”
The fundraising reached an incredible $4,300.
“It was amazing,” Hall said.
Stevenator got two new cameras, two lenses, an external camera flash, camera battery charges, harness strap, high quality camera back, rechargeable batteries for the flash, 3 32GB cars and three extra camera batteries.
“We were hoping to get him a solid camera and a good lens that would last him for years,” Spieker said. “We were able to get him all top of the line stuff.”
“It felt so good,” Olson said. “I’m going to use this one from now on.”
For Stevenator, who estimates he knows “pretty much” everyone in the pit area at the track, the best part of taking pictures is “hanging with friends.” And he has a lot of them.
“Everyone that donated or knows Steven said he was the most deserving guy for something like this,” Maci Hall said. “Racers, fans, track promoters and sponsors helped make this all happen for Steven. It takes one person to start it, but it takes the whole racing community to make it happen and that’s just what we did.”
The presentation on Friday was emotional for many. That included Spieker, who presented him with the new equipment.
“I was just like him. I was speechless,” Spieker said. “We had a good crowd here and the all the drivers came up front and supported him up front here which was cool to see. This is going to be one of the most memorable nights at the races I’ve ever had.”