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Kerry Collins, Published September 26 2009

Other race track owners concerned with Red River Valley Speedway's problems

West Fargo wouldn’t be the only thing experiencing a loss in the racing circuit if the Red River Valley Speedway were to close.

Other area track owners think the loss of the half-mile track would hurt racing throughout the area.

“It’s not going to help me if a track like that closes,” Buffalo River Race Park owner Kevin Nathe said. “There would be a loss of interest from race fans, and a loss of interest would hurt me, too.”

In a meeting on Thursday, the Red River Valley Fair Association said that they were going to explore options for the track due to financial losses.

A special meeting will be held in the near future to discuss those options – among them closing down the track or leasing it to an independent party.

Norman County Raceway in Ada, Minn., is owned by the Norman County Fair board, but is run by Paul Engelstad.

Engelstad said if they were to lease the track, it has to work out for both parties.

“It’s a give and take, and it has to work for the board and whoever is running it,” Engelstad said. “If one thinks the other one is getting rich, it’s not going to work. They have to work together.

“It’s a challenge. There’s a lot of entertainment out there.”

Engelstad just finished his sixth year running the track, and said they just finished one of the best years over that span.

Nathe has been running the Glyndon, Minn., track for the last three seasons, and since taking over, it has flourished.

Both Nathe and Engelstad said their respective tracks made money this season, but neither had exact numbers.

“I hope they can figure out a way to keep it going, because having two tracks this close helps keep interest in the area up,” Nathe said.

“I was surprised to hear it, because it’s been around since the 1960s or ’70s.

“…They definitely have to keep going forward with it, and stay positive about it. Whoever ends up with it, they have to stay positive.”

Crowds were inconsistent at RRVS this season, but that wasn’t the case in Glyndon or Ada.

BRRP consistently had 800-plus fans and had more than 100 cars. NCR’s crowds were a bit smaller, and Engelstad said it averaged 80-plus cars per night.

“I’m not going to pick apart what they have and haven’t done, because I really have no idea,” Engelstad said. “I only know that it’s tough. If people don’t come one week, we try something different the next week.”

The future of the West Fargo track is up in the air until the three-person committee – comprised of board president David Strand, vice president Darnell Lundstrom and secretary-treasurer Bill Hoffman – completes its research on the board’s options for the half-mile.

“If (RRVS) closes, it’s not going to mean more cars for us or anything like that,” Engelstad said. “What’s the fix? I don’t know. But in a community that size, and with a good enough facility, there’s got to be something to make it go.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548