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Darnell Lundstrom, Fargo, Published June 08 2013

Letter: Not enough fans, no auto races

I want to address a recent letter to The Forum that concerned the Red River Valley Speedway but was in reality an unjustified personal attack on Bryan Schulz, manager of the Red River Valley Fair.

Schulz has been an excellent manager of the Red River Valley Fair Association. In his five years as manager, he has led the charge to reinvigorate the fair, making it once again a premier all-day family attraction. Big Iron has grown, continuing as the top agricultural machinery show in the Upper Midwest. Schulz has made the fairground facilities an attractive arena for weekend events.

Schulz has also facilitated an upgrading of the physical facilities at the fairgrounds, including construction of a new office and meeting facility at Schollander Pavilion, black-topping the midway, installing all new electrical, water and sewage facilities in the food court and renovating the campground.

Now, about racing: The racing picture has changed in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The Red River Valley Speedway is a premier track. But if people don’t attend and support racing, racing cannot take place. At one time, the speedway regularly drew 2,000 to 3,000 people per night. Lately, 1,000 would be a good crowd.

The Red River Valley Fair was losing money on the speedway when Schulz became manager, and some of us on the fair board were saying, “We have to look at this. The track is bleeding us.” The track either needed to make money or we needed to quit racing.

One reason we were losing money was the high cost of running the track, including upkeep, machinery, personnel and the $20,000 we were paying out every night to drivers as prize money. The fair board finally made the decision to stop the bleeding.

Danny Schatz came forward in support of racing. Schatz loves racing. He leased the Red River Valley Speedway for three years, made enough improvements and supported racing like a true champion. However, after three years, Schatz said, “enough.” I guess you need to ask him why.

The Red River Valley Fair Association is open to offers to lease the speedway. However, board members made the decision, based on fiscal responsibility, not to run the racetrack themselves.

Lundstrom is past president and current member of the Red River Valley Fair Association executive board.