• tombergie01

Thoughts on Buffalo River Race Park's Decision to Cancel 2020...



Buffalo River Race Park in Glyndon announced on its website and Facebook page on Wednesday that it is cancelling its 2020 season with the exception of the Corn Cob Nationals on Sept. 5-6. This is what promoter Kevin Nathe posted on the BRRP website: “It has become apparent that because of the health and travel uncertainty placed on this year’s schedule and with our numerous local tracks competing for the same slimmed-down interest, we needed to make a change for the summer of 2020. We realized it was to our, and our community’s, best interest to minimize our events and turn our focus to explore other family-friendly businesses that may suit the property and our community better alongside a slimmed-down race schedule. Although we are cancelling our normal race schedule for the 2020 season, we do plan on hosting the Corn Cob National on Labor Day weekend, if possible.” This news has created some candid discussions on Facebook to say the least. There is some anger and a sadness from drivers and fans alike based on the posts. So, here is MY OPINION ONLY: With the sale of the track to a new owner in 2016 (Outlet Recreation owners Mike Larson and Jim Glenn), dwindling car counts and fans, this move shouldn’t come as a total surprise, even with the COVID-19 issues surfacing. The virus and social restrictions are certainly a factor. The COVID-19 restrictions leave a lot of unknowns for everybody. When will the restrictions for public events be lifted? Will this be different for different states? Will outdoor activities have less restrictions? All unknown at this point, and with many businesses affected, of course racing will be impacted. How much, we don’t know and I won’t speculate. And to speculate beyond that — to me that is May 4 when the stay-at-home order is going until in Minnesota — to me, is a big mistake. We don't know. Already, the models have changed on COVID-19. According to a CNN article posted Wednesday evening, the United States is trending DOWN in new coronavirus cases. IN fact, the projected national death toll was lowered by more than 20,000 people from the previous day, according to the CNN report. Which is good news. That trend may continue. So let’s take a breath and wait before jumping to any further conclusions on racing this summer. A LOT can happen from now till April 30. I heard a ton of rumors about BRRP the past two offseasons. I don’t write or report on specific ones; if I think it’s credible I’ll ask the promoter/track GM themselves and confirm. The issue I have with BRRP is this: there were some Facebook messages — legit ones that were asked by various drivers that went unanswered (or were deleted). To me the communication wasn’t good. The website wasn’t updated and there were few Facebook posts about what was ahead in 2020. When you don’t communicate with your patrons on Facebook who are asking legit questions about the 2020 plans, that’s how the rumor mill churns. I’m not saying it is right, but it is how it works. And keep in mind much of this happened before COVID-19 hit the U.S. To me, the BRRP goes beyond COVID-19 even though I’m sure that played into things. Read carefully a part of the post that was on the BRRP website: “…with our numerous local tracks competing for the same slimmed-down interest, we needed to make a change for the summer of 2020. We realized it was to our, and our community’s, best interest to minimize our events and turn our focus to explore other family-friendly businesses that may suit the property and our community better alongside a slimmed-down race schedule.” To me, that signals that racing maybe wasn’t a huge priority for the property, which is located on the intersections of U.S. Highway 10 and MN Highway 9. “Turn our focus to explore other family-friendly businesses that may suit the property” to me is a pretty telling statement to me — maybe there are other plans for the property? The move to Saturday nights was not popular with many of the drivers I talked to. The crowds on the Saturday night shows I attended last year were not good. Some of that can be attributed to the numerous rainouts early in the year, for sure, but I know some regulars weren’t happy with the night change, which I personally thought was done to boost business post-race in the bar. BRRP seemed to have a nice Sunday night niche for many years. A lot of people really love BRRP and wanted to see it flourish. Many grew up going there and got their racing start there and it’s considered a true grassroots facility. They wanted to see the place succeed. They were frustrated by a lack of communication and to me, understandably I think the place, racing-wise, has a lot of untapped potential. It’s a very nice facility, you have indoor seating for people who don’t like the dust/dirt, you have a smaller track with a lot of action, and you have a nice pit area. Plus you are 20 minutes away from Fargo-Moorhead so location is pretty dang good. I hope we haven’t seen the end of weekly racing at BRRP. It would be a shame. All we know is 2020 will only see the Corn Cob Nationals on Sept. 5-6.

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