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Wayne Bjerke, Published March 03 2010

Red River Valley Speedway situation sickens and saddens

My family has been involved in racing at the Red River Valley Speedway for the past 20-plus years. All three of my sons have raced there at various times and in fact my one son still does race there, or perhaps I should say – did race there.

What’s going on at the track and fairgrounds both saddens and sickens me at the same time. The possibility of losing a facility that has been the premier facility of its type in the Midwest for years and has a 40-year tradition of providing entertainment for drivers and fans alike, because of the unconcerned board and an incompetent manager who stated in his job interview that he had never been to a racetrack, is mind-boggling.

I’ve attended the majority of the fall and winter board meetings at which the track was discussed. This board has asked for suggestions on how to improve things, but those questions seemed to be only lip service while the press was present. They were given ideas that would speed the show up and things that would help get the younger fans interested – things that didn’t cost money but changes in the way certain things could be done. Many of these were not considered. Although, to the assistant manager’s credit, she tried a couple of things last year geared toward the kids.

We all had high hopes Danny Schatz’s lease ideas would return this to the premier facility it once was. But to no one’s surprise, the manager and board’s greediness over the idea that someone might make this a profitable track put a temporary stop to these negotiations. Schatz was looking at a possible investment of $1 million in this project and could not be denied every opportunity to recover his investment.

If the track does close, it will be the end of an era of racing and entertainment for fans, families and racers alike. Racing is one of the truly family-involved sports in which fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, aunts and uncles are all working together and cheering together. I’ve personally spent more quality and memorable time with my sons since they were kids than most families now would ever dream possible, and most race families can all say the same thing.

I hope the board members can come to their senses and give Schatz the opportunity we all want to see.