Viking Speedway in Alexandria is certainly making some waves this offseason. First, the track announced it will move to a 7 p.m. starting time and the pure stocks have been dropped.
Another big announcement on Jan. 24 on the Facebook page— there will be free admission into the stands for all individuals 18 and younger. Individuals near the age of 18 may be asked for an ID.
I think this is a great move and it is totally geared towards getting more families to the races. It comes with a risk of losing revenue from the tickets for the teen students, but perhaps it should also draw more adults to the stands with kids. which I think is the goal. It is all about having butts in the seats.
Viking Speedway also announced an increased payoff for 2019. It will $400 to win super stocks and limited late models, $300 to win midwest modifieds and $250 for street stocks. Modifieds will run for $500 to win.
Declining car counts and attendance have led Viking to take pretty major steps in efforts to reverse those trends. I applaud this — it takes guts to make these kind of changes.
Another move tracks could make is having a deal for families at the concession stand so it is affordable for a family to eat at the track. Some area tracks have meal deals but I am not sure many have ones for a family (like four hot dogs, four popcorns and four drinks for a certain deal).
I will write more on Viking Speedway when I talk about the 2019 schedule which will be released.
Here is something random — some of the most bizarre things that I’ve seen happen at a racetrack. I think back and I’ve seen a bit of everything. Here are a few…
—I was announcing at a track — won’t say where since I have announced at multiple tracks — where the flagman grabbed the wrong flag. Instead of throwing the white flag with one lap left, he threw the black flag and black flagged the whole field…
That same flagman also threw the green flag once to restart a race — and it flew out of his hand landed on the track.
—One night when I was announcing at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo in the 1990s, a B mod driver crashed into the light pole on the backstretch, knocking the lights out on the backstretch. They tried temporary solutions — temporary lights, even parking trucks with lights on back there — but ended up waiting for the local electrician to come and fix it. It was a 90-minute delay. If you want to talk about fun, try filling 90 minutes of dead time at a race.
—One night at a track in the southern third of MN in the 1990s, a pair of street stock drivers were feuding, apparently over an engine claim that had happened earlier in the season. They got into it during at yellow when one of the cars rear ended the other. The other driver — who was racing for no points and no money since he was suspended by IMCA for refusing a claim — was pissed, drove ahead several feet, and then proceeded to back his car — with his foot to the floor — and wrecking the radiator of the other car.
The car who backed into the other then sped off the track, drove his car directly onto his trailer and bolted from the facility. True story. I even remember the names of the drivers but I won’t mention them though. Crowd went insane. This was back in the days when you had heated rivalries.
—In the 1980s I went to a race with my dad at the Yellow Medicine County fair in Canby, Minn. Since it was a one-night a year deal, they had a class that was kinda like a hodge-podge, meaning there were different classes combined into one because of numbers (street stocks/hobby stocks and sportsman cars). One driver was destroying the competition with his sportsman car (he had a big advantage on the others), almost lapping the field — and then broke an axle and was done. That left to a wild battle for the win — a lot of contact between two drivers — and things got really heated afterwards, not only between the drivers, but fans in the stands. My dad, who wasn’t shy about sharing his opinion at a track, got into an argument with another fan about the ending of the race. No punches thrown or anything but there were a lot of pissed off people.