Camaraderie and Sportsmanship Part of What Makes Racing Great

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One of the things that I really like about racing is the camaraderie between drivers, which often leads to great displays of sportsmanship.

Sportsmanship just isn’t on the track, you see, although that is vitally important. I respect drivers who race hard but clean on the track. I don’t respect drivers who feel the need to drive over other drivers for the sake of winning or advancing one position. You can race hard and clean — it’s done every week at many local tracks. Yes there are a few drivers who will try to win at all costs and don’t care whose equipment they destroy, but thankfully that is only a small minority.

If you are a non-race fan reading this, and want to know why people love this sport, this is a big reason why.

That carries over to the pit area. You see drivers borrowing tools and tires to other drivers. I’ve heard numerous stories of veteran drivers offering setup tips to younger drivers in order to help them grow and make them better. They want good competition, and chances are they were helped that way when they were younger.

I’ve seen so many instances where if a driver has a flat tire, other crews step up and help — providing a jack, air gun or tire, or in the older days, lifting a car up (when a jack wasn’t around).

I’ve seen this more and more walking around the pits the last couple of years. Drivers and crews helping other drivers and crews in so many ways. There are times when two drivers race hard for the win and afterward, the driver who finishes second pulls aside to congratulate the winner. Great stuff.

There are drivers having a beer with others afterwards shooting the breeze.

Here is an excerpt of a blog I wrote in May about a great display of this in sportsmanship at Sheyenne Speedway (pictured above):

TJ Waln, a Wissota Street Stock driver from Wadena, Minn., (about 150 miles from Lisbon), was getting ready to go into staging for the feature in the division. A fellow driver and track official noticed his left rear shock was loose on his X machine.

So a frantic scene ensued to try and repair the shock. A few other drivers began helping Waln. Midwest modified drivers Travis Saurer and Randy Klein, joined Waln in a feverish attempt to get the car ready for feature time. Keep in mind that Saurer and Klein were in the next feature race after the street stocks, and faced their own time issues.

Time was short, as the Mini Stocks feature went quickly and caution free. Saurer, Klein and Waln worked fast to get the car ready. The left rear wheel was put on in the nick of time and Waln made it for the green flag. Honestly, Saurer and Klein didn’t have to take time to help Waln, but without their efforts, he doesn’t make the feature. He finished a solid sixth, by the way, which is much better than a DNS. What a display of sportsmanship and cooperation. And this isn’t the first story like that in racing. You hear all the time of drivers and crews helping other drivers in local stock-car racing. Honestly those type of stories don’t get enough publicity and need to be told. I thought it was a cool thing.

Other Notes:
—One item of note is that former NASCAR star Kasey Kahne will be racing in the area in the sprint cars in 2019.

His first appearance is scheduled for June 7 at the River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks.

He is scheduled to race at the River Cities Speedway on Aug. 16 and the next night at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. It is part of a 50-race sprint car schedule Kahne announced for 2019. He retired from NASCAR following 2018.

—The clock is truly ticking on Badlands Motor Speedway. If there is not a sale of the track by Dec. 28 the facility will be demolished and turned into a wildlife preserve. KELO-TV in Sioux Falls had video of heavy machinery coming to the site in Brandon, S.D., this week in preparation for tearing the down the facility.

I can’t find anything concrete about a person or group stepping forward to buy the track. Maybe there is a Christmas miracle that can save the historic sprint car track.

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