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Published April 01 2010

NASCAR's Tony Stewart commits to racing a night at RRV Speedway this season

It seems like everybody’s excited about the things going on at the Red River Valley Speedway.

A schedule is in place, and the most notable date is June 23, when the track has secured NASCAR star Tony Stewart to race in a Late Model.

“Tony owns a couple of dirt tracks himself, and has those connections with Donny (Schatz),” said Ivan Sailer, the promoter for Valley Racing Group. “He was excited to come up and be part of a brand new speedway.”

Danny Schatz took over the track’s operations in early March. Schatz’s son, Donny, is a four-time World of Outlaws champion and races for Tony Stewart Racing.

The night is the biggest draw on a schedule that is slated to run every Wednesday from May 26-Sept. 1, and is a positive sign for a season that was in limbo until a few weeks ago.

“Getting Tony Stewart was easy to iron out. Getting that lease signed was tough,” Danny Schatz joked. “We’re trying to do everything that we can.

“You can’t fix everything and do everything in one year, but if you want to ‘wow’ someone, you have to try and do as many good things as you can.”

Because of the track moving race night to Wednesday, it made it easier for Stewart to be available because of his demanding NASCAR schedule on the weekends.

“Donny’s team is owned by Tony, and we know that he’s a big dirt-track racing fan,” Sailer said. “It took a lot of work, but it works out with it being on Wednesday for him with his NASCAR schedule.

“He’s going to race a Late Model, and it’s going to be a big night for us, for sure.”

The track is also moving forward with the construction of changing the half-mile track to a 3/8 mile, which includes a lot more than just pushing some dirt around.

“We’re taking the lighting down and positioning it for the new track,” Danny Schatz said. “And drainage has been one of the bigger issues. To race on a rainy day, you’ve got to get rid of the water, and we’re working to get that done.

“If it rained at noon out there before, you couldn’t race for three days. That’s the kind of thing we want to change.”

As of Wednesday, the track was staked out where the new 3/8-mile circuit was to go, and Sailer said the new dirt would begin getting hauled in over the next couple of weeks.

Along with weekly Wednesday races slated from the end of May to the beginning of Sept, there are a couple of specials thrown in as well.

All-Star Sprints are scheduled to run on July 29, and the Beet Harvest 100 on Oct. 1-2.

“We’ve pretty much changed everything we could to try and make this work,” Sailer said. “We changed the day we’re racing. We changed the track.

“We’re trying to think out side of that ordinary box, and we’re going to different promotions every week and new things going on.”

But there is still a lot of work to be done over the next couple of months to get everything ready, Danny Schatz said.

“Nothing ever goes as well as you intend it to go,” Danny Schatz said. “But we’re just trying to cover all of our bases.

“There are a lot of fish to fry out there, and I don’t know if we’ll get them all fried. We’re just glad to be getting things under way with what I think needs to be done.”

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