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Thoughts on Sanctioning Bodies, and River Cities and I-94 Schedules




A frequent topic of discussion at local race tracks that I have with a lot of drivers is about sanctioning bodies.

Around here it is usually IMCA and Wissota. Some like IMCA rules, some don’t, and same with Wissota. There are passionate opinions on both sides. What it’s done, unintentionally, has created a divide between drivers, almost territorial between tracks. And that’s not been good for racing in our part of the country, frankly, at least not from a fan standpoint like mine.

Wissota. IMCA. USRA. NASCAR. UMP. Those are a few sanctions in the Midwest. I'm sure if you expand that coverage area you will find a lot more.

I look at sanctioning differently as a fan. Of course, I want racing to be more affordable for all drivers/race teams. But what I seek ultimately is the best racing and what puts the best product. I don’t ultimately care about the rules because I’m not the one spending money. From a blog standpoint I try and stay pretty neutral in the debate even though I have some personal preferences as a fan I share in-person from time to time.

What I also really don’t like as a fan is that a Wissota mod car can’t easily run an IMCA race, or vice-versa. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Wissota modified driver in this area take his/her car and run at an IMCA race. I’ve seen a few IMCA mod drivers switch over here and there. As an example I'd love to see guys like Jesse Skalicky, the Arneson brothers, Dave Shipley and Tyler Hall, for example, be able to run a Wissota special at I-94. And see guys like Travis Saurer, Dusty Bitzan and Brady Gerdes maybe sneak up to Ada or West Fargo for a big show. But the rules are so different between the two sanctionings that it is not common.

I hear a few whispers occasionally of tracks going unsanctioned in all classes, but you very rarely see an entire track that is unsanctioned in all classes. You may see some individual classes unsanctioned, like the mini-stocks/hornets or hobby stock/pure stocks, but there is sanctioning of other classes. From a uniformity standpoint, sanctioning bodies have a role in racing. A track that makes up its own rules on all of its classes doesn’t tend to survive long.

Sanctioning bodies are about two things: money and survival. They get money from driver license fees, nightly sanctioning fees from tracks and sponsors. But they also get a nice chunk of money from companies involved in racing that sell tires, shocks, engines, transmissions, you name it.

These companies benefit financially from the rules of sanctioning bodies. A tire rule, for example in Wissota or IMCA, for example, certainly helps business for Hoosier Tire. New tires aren’t cheap, but you usually need them to compete in our area.

Engines play a big role with sanctioning bodies. Do you think the Root family doesn’t get a pretty decent cut from the GM Crate engines that are purchased for their mods? Engine builders are fighting for their piece of the pie, too, and the Crate engine is a threat to those that build open, concept or spec engines.

For drivers, those things mean spending more money. And often you are locked into buying a certain product (tires, for example) because of a sanctions rules. Tires are such a huge part of the game and they also are speedy.

Sanctioning bodies are here to stay, but they have plenty of room for improvement if they want racing to grow. Cut out the greed and political BS and you’ve got a start.

The bottom line of this is sanctioning bodies need to listen more to drivers — especially the weekly budget racers — and to come up with common sense rules that produce good racing and are affordable. Listening to a bunch of deep pocket teams isn’t the answer because they will spend what it takes. Most racing teams are on a budget.


River Cities, I-94 Sure Step Speedways release schedule

River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks announced its schedule on its Facebook page today. Some exciting nights on board in what I hope is a Covid-19 free summer for race tracks.

The two annual World of Outlaw Sprint stops are on board as are the World of Outlaw Late Models. The 15th annual John Seitz Memorial is set for September, and it is a blast of a weekend.

A nice addition this year is the Advantage RV Modified Tour which should put on a heck of a show at the bullring. The Steffes Street Stock Tour returns along with appearances of the Lightning Sprints and wingless sprints. Of course, NOSA Sprints remain the big weekly draw at RCS. Wissota Midwest Modifieds, Late Models and Street Stocks join the sprints weekly. Looks like a full summer of racing which I’m excited about.

I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls has a similarly busy summer ahead, starting with a doubleheader on April 30-May 1. Weekly classes will include Wissota Late Model, Wissota Modified, Wissota Midwest Modified, Wissota Street Stock, Short Trackers and Limited Late Models.

The Steffes Street Stock Tour and Advantage RV Mod Tour are aback at I-94. The NLRA Late Model Special is set for May 21 with the Dick Johanneck King of Dirt on June 5. The Late Model Challenge Series is also back, along with the Bob Gierke Memorial (Modified race) on July 30.

Both schedules have me excited and I look forward to seeing schedules for other RaceChaser-area tracks.

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