Wissota 100 Returning to I-94 Speedway -- Which Makes Sense
Wissota announced on Thursday that the 2020 Wissota 100 will be held at the I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls. It will be the third straight year the event will be held at the 3/8-mile oval.
The dates are Sept. 15-19, 2020.
To me, this is pretty much a no-brainer based on how it is has gone the past two years, but let me say a couple of things before I go there. I freely admit I am biased because it is only an hour away from me, too.
Ogilvie Raceway near Ogilvie, Minn.,, owned by the Wagamon Family, and Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, S.D., under the direction of long-time promoter Orville Chenoweth, also submit bids, according to the Wissota release.
I wouldn’t have had a huge issue with Ogilvie had won the bid — it is a great facility, an hour or so from the cities (or less for some), and fairly easy to get to. The drivers I talk to really like the place and the car counts are solid every week. So if Wissota had chosen Ogilvie, I would not have batted an eye. My only issue there would be are the hotels close enough by to meet the need.
If Wissota had awarded the 100 to DSFS in Huron, well, I would have criticized that decision. Here is why: Dakota State Fair Speedway had zero races in 2019. It ran two or three in 2018. It has three on the schedule this year. Do you think a track that races three nights a year should be the host of your premier event? Not me. How will the track hold up over 4-5 nights of racing when it is raced on three nights all year?
Which isn’t to knock Orville Chenoweth, who has done a good job over the years at DSFS. It’s a nice place and he has stuck his neck out running some high-paying Wissota Late Model Shows, like the $10,000 to win Challenge Cup. I just don’t think the time would have been right to move it. If DSFS runs 10-12 shows a year and gets rolling again, talk to me then.
So why is it a no brainer to return to I-94 in my opinion? Because I think it’s been a success the past two years. Plus, you have a city that is embracing the event (Fergus Falls), while there are some that simply wouldn’t (Alexandria, Willmar, Menomonie, Wis.,) to name a few. But that’s another blog. The geography makes sense to draw people from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Canada and all parts of Minnesota, and even as far away as Wyoming and Montana.
A majority of the drivers I’ve talked to who raced the Wissota 100 at I-94 said that while things haven’t been perfect at I-94, they have had pretty good experiences racing there. There have been hiccups and things to work through — any track has that (guess what, Boone has some of the IMCA Super Nationals, too.). And last year, the weather sucked and created a scheduling nightmare for the 100. But that was beyond the track’s control.
I know the crew at I-94 Speedway works very hard weekly to put on a good show, which I think is an important quality for a track to have. Scott Engfer spends many, many hours prepping that track.
Truth is, there aren’t many tracks in Wissota that could host the 100. You need a large grandstand that seats thousands of people (which few have), a large pit area, camping capabilities, good hotels in the city, and you need a track that can produce good racing. There was some chatter about the event going back to Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, S.D., but with new promoters that wasn't happening. Let's let the promoters get their feet under them before we venture down that path.
I-94 produces pretty good racing on a weekly basis. I expect the officials there to continue work to make it even better.