Thoughts on Viking Speedway, Adding Classes and Another Notes
Viking Speedway in Alexandria, the past two weeks, has wrapped up its racing program in three hours. That means I’ve been on the road home around 9:30 p.m. Frankly I like that.
One knock about Viking, and this is a long-term issue that spans decades, is the length of the show at the half-mile. Many times it has pushed the 10:30 p.m. curfew over the years. Some years, way back when, the track took 30 to 45 minute intermissions with severe weather looming to the west. Working/farming the track does take a little more time at Viking because of the size of the track but shouldn’t take 45 minutes.
The nights I have been there, the heat races have been done in between 60-70 minutes. The only holdup was a few weeks back when Shawn Wageman rolled his super stock off of corners 1 and 2 that took a while to clean up. That stuff happens.
Viking’s shows have been efficient and the racing has been pretty good. Car counts have been solid -- although I am encouraged by the super stock numbers recently -- except for the Limited Late Models. It’s been a different racetrack than what I’m accustomed to there — not a big cushion on the high side, and frankly hasn’t slicked off as much as I’ve seen it in the past.
I credit the drivers there for keeping the show moving. The racing has been pretty clean — to the point where I haven’t seen a ton of tore up equipment there. Credit also to flagman Justin Nieland for keeping the show moving, too.
Although it’s been a late start I think it’s been a pretty good month for Viking. Things aren't perfect
How Many Classes is Too Many?
Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo has announced it is adding the IMCA RaceSaver Sprints for 2021. If the track continues with its current classes as well in 2021, that means six classes will run weekly in West Fargo.
I have nothing against the IMCA Sprint class, but I am wondering if we have too many classes around here, to the point where car counts are watered down, badly in some cases, in some classes.
For example, while Sheyenne’s INEX Legend car counts have been solid all year, they’ve been down by a decent amount at Red River Valley and Norman County. Which concerns me a little after the class had really thrived for a few years.
I, as a fan don’t want to see eight classes with eight cars in them. I don’t want to see classes with 5-6 cars in the features. I’ve seen tracks run nine classes in one night which is foolish.
Out of the seven RaceChaser tracks I cover, here are the classes offered at weekly shows in 2020.
Wissota Late Model (River Cities and I-94)
Wissota or IMCA Modified (Viking and I-94, NCR and Red River Valley Speedway)
Wissota Super Stock (Viking and I-94)
Wissota Midwest Modified (NCR, Sheyenne, I-94, River Cities, Viking, Devils Lake)
Wissota Street Stock (Sheyenne, I-94, River Cities, Viking, Devils Lake)
IMCA Stock Cars (NCR and Red River Valley Speedway)
Limited Late Models (Viking and I-94)
NOSA Sprints (River Cities)
IMCA Sport Mods (Red River Valley and NCR)
INEX Legends (Red River Valley, NCR, Sheyenne)
Mini Stock/Hornet/Short Trackers (I-94 and Sheyenne)
Pure Stock/IMCA Hobby Stock/Bomber (Sheyenne, Devils Lake, NCR, Red River Valley)
Non-Winged Sprints (most nights at Devils Lake)
Note: The POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints run at RaceChaser several tracks locally but not every week. They have run several nights at Devils Lake.
I count 13 there, and that’s with combining IMCA/Wissota A Mods. In my opinion, and this is a common complaint I hear from fans, is we have too many classes.
—Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes has 17 INEX Legends wins to lead RaceChaser area drivers. Brock Gronwold, including his two wins down south over the winter, has 16 midwest mod wins. Gronwold leads the points at I-94, Viking and Norman County Raceway. Austin Arneson has seven modified wins.
—Ryan Mikkelson, Dustin Strand and Lance Schill are among the drivers who have feature wins in two classes this season.
—Are the Limited Late Models a short-term fad in the area? Too soon to say, although numbers are down at I-94 Sure Step and Viking in 2020. Viking had seven last week and I-94, after being at 15 or more the last two seasons, are down to the lower teens.
I don’t have a great theory as to why the numbers are down. Maybe some can be attributed to Covid-19 and the lateness/uncertainty of the season, may some of the newness has worn off. I don’t know. I think we need another “normal” year before I make a full evaluation. I do know it’s not meant to be a true entry-level class as some have portrayed it. If you look at the drivers who’ve done well in the class — Ben Wolden, Ryan Mikkelson, Dustin Johanneck (and Rick Schroeder before he switched to sprints) — all were experienced drivers from other divisions. Some have clearly made strides, too like Brad Staples, Zack Tysdal and Blake Saathoff.
Let’s give it a year, a normal full season, before making a call on what the future of the class is.
—Kelby Anderson of Fort Ransom became the first repeat winner in the Mini Stocks this season at Sheyenne Speedway.
—Only three drivers have won NOSA Sprint features at River Cities Speedway this season — Austin Pierce (five), Jade Hastings (three) and Nick Ranten (one). Pierce started out on fire in the series but of late it’s been Hastings rolling to local wins. Pierce leads the points at RCS in large part because of eight top fives in nine starts. Hastings leads the overall NOSA points by 37 over Wade Nygaard.
—The Steffes Street Stock Tour wraps up this Sunday at Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon. Eric Riley of Morris, with four tour wins, holds a slim two-point lead over Jonny Carter of Lisbon, who has three tour wins. Justin Vogel of Brooten has two wins while Todd Carter, Maria Broksieck, Ryan Satter and Nitro Williams have wins. It’s been a great first year for the tour, with great driver support and great racing. By the way, I am glad to see Riley and Vogel making the long trek to race at Sheyenne on a regular basis.
—Speaking of Satter, he’s on track to win season championships at Viking and I-94 in the Wissota Street Stock class.
--A note on Viking and I-94: one driver who is quietly making strides in the tough modified class is McKenzie Gerdes of Alexandria. She finished a solid eighth last week and each week, you see progress from the 13x. The top five finishes haven't come yet, but they will eventually. Keep in mind the level of competition in that class at I-94 and Viking is very strong -- and has a lot of depth. Not easy to break into the next tier.
-Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks leads the NLRA Late Model point standings by six over Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks. Troftgruben won his first career feature at Devils Lake and has been running well of late. Strand has six late model wins overall this season. The NLRA lates are back at Norman County Raceway this Thursday.