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Kerry Collins, Published October 07 2009

Danny Schatz wants to lease Red River Valley Speedway

The Red River Valley Fair Association has gotten a proposal to lease the Red River Valley Speedway.

It’s come from a guy that knows a thing or two about racing.

Danny Schatz – father of World of Outlaws star Donny Schatz – submitted a proposal to run the West Fargo track on Monday.

“Nobody wants to quit racing out there, but the fans want to see good races,” Schatz said. “But I don’t know what to expect out of this. Maybe they’ll just ask me to stop sending them letters.”

Schatz’s proposal is to lease it for five years at $20,000 per year – but it also includes some radical changes. Schatz would reconfigure the track from a half-mile to a one-third-mile or three-eighth-mile oval. That would also mean the moving of lights and doing other renovations that Schatz would pay for out of his pocket.

The proposal also includes two, five-year extension options because “this would be the only means of getting back the investment necessary to make the changes,” it said in the proposal.

“By making the track smaller, we could slow the cars down by 30-40 mph, and it will make for better racing,” Schatz said. “People want to see cars getting passed, and the last couple of years out there, they look like they’re all in a train.

“It’s a fast track, but I want to try and make it as exciting as I can.”

The idea of Schatz paying for renovations has to make his offer tempting for the fair board, since the association has been leery about putting more money into a track that has been losing money.

“It would be a huge undertaking,” fair board manager Bryan Schulz said. “People ask us why we didn’t do it, but we’re talking about big bucks, and we can’t take that kind of financial hit.”

Schatz said he knew it would take some time, and more than just a few renovations to turn a profit at the track, but he thinks his changes would be a good start.

“I’ve been involved in racing for quite some time, and I stood back and watched what’s been going on over there the last couple years,” Schatz said.

“They’re in a situation where they aren’t satisfied and I decided to make an offer.

“…A lot of things need to be done to make going there a good experience. I go to 100 nights of racing a year, and I don’t want to go home at midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning.”

Schulz said the Association would have to iron a few things out before the proposal would be accepted, but some of that will be discussed tonight.

The Association will hold a meeting to discuss the proposal at 6 p.m. tonight at the Hartl Ag Buidling at the Red River Valley Fair.

At a September meeting, the fair board members put off a decision about the future of the track.

“We can’t lose $30,000 to $40,000 per year,” Schulz said. “The board said if we continued losing money, this was something we would have to look at because we couldn’t continue subsidizing someone’s hobby.

“We have to be financially sound, too.”

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