In the northern states, we see a lot of recognition for the Canadian racers who
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 wheel cover is nicely done and has the sponsors’ names and car colors. Promotions lik
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.
The track management fixed up this dedicated pickup truck and wrapped it in
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.