Viking Speedway Makes Changes Aimed to Boost Car Counts and Attendance in 2019
Viking Speedway in Alexandria, Minn., is slated to open for 2019 season on May 11. And fans and drivers both will notice some changes at the 1/2-mile oval.
For starters, the racing program will start at 7 p.m. sharp — and not at 6, 6:30 or 6:45 which has been the case in previous years. Running a quick show is a priority for Viking this summer according to track president Rich Snyder. That means reducing the time spent under cautions and keeping intermission to 15-20 minutes.
“The fans are tired of getting sitting and waiting during a show. This is the entertainment world we’re in,” Snyder said. “I feel to get our fans back, we need to run a quicker program and entertain the fans. Our board is one board with his -- and that’s what our goal is.”
Some other changes in store for Viking in 2019:
—increased purse that increases pay to drivers finishing further back in the field (see below)
—starting this year no haulers/trailers taller 11 feet will be allowed in the infield pit area in order increase fan visibility of the track
—individuals 18 and under will be admitted free to the grandstand
—the Pure Stock class, which has seen a decline in numbers the past few years, has been dropped
Another reason for the later start is considering the sunlight’s impact on the track surface. A later start means the sun won’t be quite as strong which should make the track better for watering.
Weekly classes will be the Wissota Mods, Wissota Super Stocks, Wissota Street Stocks, Wissota Midwest Modifieds and Limited Late Models, a class which is expected to see more car counts at Viking and I-94 this season.
Special events include a Memorial Day weekend doubleheader, a visit by the Advantage RV Mod Tour in early June, the second annual Bob Gierke Memorial in July and the 4th annual Fallen Lineman mod special in August. The NLRA late model doubleheader is set for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 with the Fall Classic slated for September.
Snyder is no stranger to racing in western Minnesota. He also served as the flagman at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls for several years before stepping away a few years ago. His dad, Roy is in the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame, and Snyder himself raced for several years and was a strong runner in the 1990s.
“I’ve been a part of it since the 60s with my dad,” Snyder said. “Having a quick program — it will leave the fans excited and want to come back. I want to see (the track) get back to the way it used to be in its prime. I want to see it prosper.”
The increased purse is aimed at attracting more drivers, which in turn would bring more fans to the stands.
“It’s a key component on bringing people here — not everyone wins all the time,” Snyder said. “The driver who finished ninth or 11th spends as much as the person who won. Paying back deeper — some spots will increase $25, $30 or even $40. We hope to draw some of the drivers back with their fans.”
Justin Nieland, a former standout in the Mod 4 class years ago, will serve as flagman. Larry Crouse is back as the blade operator.
Ultimately, the focus is running a quicker race program.
“If we do our job and organize our show, I don’t see it going much past 10,” Snyder said. “If we do things the right way — wrecker quickness, a 15-20 minute intermission, the track prep before the event — everybody’s got to be on their ‘A’ game.”