Published May 05 2012
Saturday night race draws cars to Red RIver Valley SpeedwayWEST FARGO – Seeing a mile-and-a-half long line of trailers hauling race cars is what Cory Back wants to see.
Not just on this particular Saturday, but every Saturday this summer.
A field of more than 100 cars filed into the Red River Valley Speedway on Saturday as the track began the season. RRVS heads into its third year of being operated by the Valley Racing Group, a consortium owned by Danny Schatz and his family.
Back, the track’s operation manager, said the track plans to feature many changes, such as moving races from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
“I say the No. 1 thing fans asked us for was switching the races from Wednesday to Saturday,” Back said. “Today, I’ve gotten 175 phone calls on my cell from people wanting to know about today’s races.”
Pleasing area race fans and pleasing drivers hungry for either good competition or a sizable purse are this year’s focuses for the track.
Fans certainly got a taste of what may be to come during the Late Mods final. Several cautions set up a collision sending Cole Schill flying into the front straightway, ripping off a portion of the fence while his car crashed into a gate.
After Schill got out of his car, he pointed and yelled at the driver who collided with him.
Track personnel were working feverishly to restore the destroyed fence when it started raining as some fans left, while others started doing “The Chicken Dance” to kill some time. Racing on Wednesdays meant the RRVS was the only racing option in the area, with most tracks racing Thursday through Sunday.
Now, the RRVS has to compete with Viking Speedway in Alexandria, Minn., and the Jamestown (N.D.) Speedway, which also races on Saturdays.
“For somebody like me, I am more apt to come here from Thief River Falls (Minn.),” said driver Mark Esala. “Coming down on a Wednesday night was a bummer.”
Esala said Wednesday night races were a deterrent because it posed challenges such as getting home at a late hour only to work the next day.
Esala is an engineer at Arctic Cat, and because the RRVS now offers Saturday racing, it means he’ll be down a lot more.
“I didn’t come here at all on Wednesdays last year,” he said. “I came once for a special race they had on a Friday. But who knows, I could be down here a lot more.”
Same goes for Grand Forks racer and resident Steve Anderson.
Anderson, a Late Model driver, was often put in the position of either racing on Wednesdays or going to his son’s go-kart races, which were on the same night.
His son, who is 11, placed second in points last year, and it left Anderson wondering if his son could have placed first if there hadn’t been Wednesday races.
“Now, it is a little easier for us,” Anderson said.
Back, who is in his second year with the track, said there isn’t an exact science for luring droves of people to the speedway.
But that isn’t stopping the RRVS from trying.
Back feels with changes such as a new infield scoreboard and an additional class of racing, the track should have success.
“I think there’s been a feeling that we’ve been one of the tracks in the area,” Back said. “We feel with what we’re doing we can become the premier track in the area, and not just another track.”
Heat 1: 1. Jeff Nelson 2. Casey Arneson 3. Bryant Kakela
Heat 2: 1. Scott Jacobson 2. Erik Pratschner 3. Bill Yonke
Heat 3: 1. Bob Smith 2. Jarrett Carter 3. Greg Langford
Feature: 1. Arneson 2. Smith 3. Jacobson
Heat 1: 1. Brian Bernotas 2. Dave Shipley 3. Tim Compson
Heat 2: 1. Todd Carter 2. Kevin Robinson 3. Jeff Hapala
Feature: 1. Bernotas 2. Carter 3. Shipley
Heat 1: 1. Mark Esala 2. Ward Imrie 3. Jason Strand
Heat 2: 1. Ty Hanten 2. Austin Arneson 3. Ross Romdalvik
Heat 3: 1. Cody Skytland 2. Bryce Borgen 3. Dale Kraling
Feature: 1. Borgen 2. Blake Jegtvig 3. Hanten
Heat 1: 1. Michael Johnson 2. Ricky Weiss 3. Matt Aukland
Heat 2: 1. Brad Seng 2. Tony Schill 3. Mike Balcaen
Heat 3: 1. Tom Thompson 2. Paul Mueller 3. Lance Schill
Heat 4: 1. Scott Greer 2. Marshall Fegers 3. Bill Mooney
Feature: 1. Fegers 2. Weiss 3. Justin Fegers
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.
Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com