This is the weekend we have been looking forward to for some time. We finally get to see some dirt action after many visits to asphalt tracks in and around Wisconsin and Michigan. Our Friday night race takes us to our title sponsors home town of Superior, Wisconsin, and the AMSOIL Speedway in the first of a three-track run all in the same weekend. The next day we travel to Viking Speedway in Alexandria, Minnesota, for a special promotion that went very well indeed.

These two tracks will be the first dirt tracks we will visit for this year's Tour and I can say, it's about time after all of those tarmac tracks. Friday morning we visited the factory and corporate offices of AMSOIL just down the road from AMSOIL Speedway. We were treated to a comprehensive tour of the impressive and massive facilities.

AMSOIL Speedway
Earlier known as Superior Speedway, AMSOIL agreed to be the title sponsor here in 2011 for a three-year deal. The speedway is a part of the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds facility and when the fair is going on, the races do too.

With AMSOIL the company being so close and involved in racing, it just made sense to support the local track where AMSOIL is produced. Additionally, the track is sanctioned by the Wissota AMSOIL Dirt Track Series. And we will be attending no less than six Wissota–sanctioned tracks on this year's Tour.

The "we" I refer to who accompanied me for this race were Rob Fisher, now Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of CT and Glenn Bucher, one of our company's national account representatives, both of whom traveled to Superior, Wisconsin, specifically to be a part of this Tour stop. AMSOIL supports the automotive industry in many different areas. The lubricants it produces are well suited for a wide range of automotive uses from everyday driving to extreme off-road and racing applications.

The way I heard it, AMSOIL was the first company to offer synthetic lubricants for uses other than the military. Synthetic lubricants were being used for jet engines because of the superior qualities it exhibited. Lt. Col. Al Amatuzio, the founder of AMSOIL, was a jet fighter squadron commander and realized how useful this product would be for automobiles while he was still in the service. He formulated the very first synthetic oil to meet API specs for the automotive industry and began marketing the products in 1972.

Today we have many companies who offer synthetic lubricants, but all of these owe their existence to Mr. Amatuzio for his foresight in bringing the technology to the everyday user. As the major sponsor of our Tour, the company seeks to make known its history and quality product line to the many circle track racers who can benefit from the many special characteristics associated with synthetic lubricants.

After lunch, we traveled the short distance down Tower Avenue to the dirt track named for our Tour sponsor. This is your typical dirt track as such, but somewhat non-typical too. It has evolved and transitioned in recent years and is gaining in popularity as well as strength in numbers of racers.

I'm not sure if it was the news of our visit or what, but the racers showed up in very good numbers. We parked our bus in the pits in a space where "that team won't be coming tonight." Each team had its assigned parking spots.

Sure enough, "that team" showed up and we had to move next door to another "no show." Sure enough, just when I had leveled the bus, this other no show showed up and we had to move again.

Several moves later, we were all set. We set up our display of Tour sponsor's swag and had a continual string of racers and their families coming by the bus to chat and take literature provided by our list of associated sponsors.

This night had the historic cars running and we saw some very cool examples of years past dirt cars. What I thought amazing was the quality of cars. They looked like they had just been restored. The paint and bodies were near perfect on most of these cars and it is a testament to the interest racers have for the bygone era of dirt racing.

AMSOIL Speedway runs, as regular classes, the Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds, and Pure Stocks. There were a good many cars here for each of these classes in addition to the vintage cars.

The race director at AMSOIL Speedway for this race was Chris Stepan and he ran the event well, keeping the cars moving between races to where the show had a flow to it that fans like. And this is one of the most northerly race tracks in America. It is less than 100 miles to the Canadian border by plane.

I'm not sure what kind of tracks they have in Canada, but I have seen plenty of teams from that country travel into the U.S. to race on our tracks. I saw this in New York at Mohawk International Speedway, in New Hampshire, and in Maine and I see it here in the area of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

We had a great time at the AMSOIL Speedway, but early the next morning we were off to another speedway for the Saturday night show.

Viking Speedway
This is another Wissota sanctioned dirt track and started racing back in 1965. The track is a half-mile in length and runs five Wisconsin SSOTA–sanctioned classes; Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds, and Street Stocks.

Viking is a part of the Douglas County Fairgrounds located in Alexandria, Minnesota, about a two hour drive from Minneapolis. They will run 25 events this year, some being three-day touring events. The Midwest Modifieds were by far the most popular class bringing in 23 teams on this night.

The track is a multi-banked design where a guy running the low groove can maintain position on a car running the top groove. And, there are no guardrails beyond the front stretch. I saw plenty of three-wide racing where the cars had sufficient room to race without making contact.

We lucked out because on this night, a special promotion was taking place. The track was allowing fans to attend for free. It was strange watching this take place. We arrived just after noon on Saturday, July 28, and the gates and doors were open. When the fans arrived, they just walked in and went to the grandstands.

This was all made possible by a group from the local Minnesota Corn Growers Association, headed up by Bill Blacheck, who covered the tracks expenses that night. The event was called Jam the Stands—Ethanol—Field to Fuel. For the track, it was a promotional success in that it attracted new attendees and in the process sold a lot of hot dogs and beer. And it provided a considerable amount of information and exposure for ethanol base fuels that will benefit everyone.

The free admission helped us too. We were able to interact more with the fans because they could come and go as they pleased and we had our Tour bus situated right at the area where the food was being served.

Phil Merten is the president of Viking Speedway and serves on the board of directors of Wissota. He runs a tight ship around this track and it was a very well run show that provided a lot of excitement and competition.

I think more tracks should consider promotions similar to this one that used a local organization that wanted to promote themselves to the public. It serves everyone well and in this case, they did jam the stands. And if you put on a good show, have activities for the kids that will entice them to bring their parents back next week, you can grow your front gate considerably. It also makes the regular fans very happy to be able to go to the races and spend much less money.

This being the second track we've visited this year that runs their program under the Wissota organization, I came away very impressed. The Wissota Promoters Association was founded in 1981 by eight promoters, and I am quoting from their website. They wanted to make the rules for the Late Model division uniform so that teams could travel to different tracks in their region and not have to change the car.

This worked out so well that they ended up doing the same for the modified division. In 1984 a volunteer committee was formed that became the board of directors they now have. Today, a seven-member board oversees the operations of Wissota and they represent 48 tracks in the U.S. and three in Canada. That is a huge organization and something the rest of the circle track community should take a good look at and emulate.

Our next stops are to another Wissota track, I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa, and then on to Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, the following weekend for a stop we added just because we couldn't stand to miss this unique venue.

We've got one more week in Wisconsin and then we are off to Montana for a race and a track that are truly unique in their promotion and location. This starts off our run down beside the Rocky Mountains where we will skirt and traverse those magnificent peaks all of the way to the southern end of the range in New Mexico. Stay tuned.

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